The Kashmiri Village that Never Smiled Again by Malik Aabid

The Kashmiri Village that Never Smiled Again.

[By Malik Aabid]

There rests a small village, quite attractive, in this king of vales; Kashmir. One enters in the garden of seclusion, in the beauty of nature, in the silence of scenery and in the greenery of greeneries, when one enters this village. Mountains surround it and protect it. People are attracted to blossoms which sprout there like pearls. The village’s idyll is enhanced by the gift of nature and that exquisiteness is in the form springs (Nag). Springs in the village are the indication of its utmost beauty, says Walter Lawrence. Twittering and chirping of birds solely had to do the work of breaking the silence in this village in the past.

So I am told.

kashmir repressionThe people of this place were joyful, living a decent life, and simple. Children were polite, plain, and untidy, as not only appearance but their vision was too simple; they were most often than not found gnawing nails in the effortless manner as if they were not civilized, although that was not the case. Women were found mostly in fields, carrying samovars with them and the basket for the purpose of farming. They were considered most charming, most beautiful. Men were simpletons too, almost boy like even in their old age.

So I am told.

This was the life of the village where I was born and it was given the name of “Trehgam” means thirty villages. Maybe because of the fact it consisted of thirty small villages. The charming Shiva nag located in the village was a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity.

So I am told.

Then came the time of the new occupation. This time it was not the Mughals or the Sikhs or the Dogras but the new state of India. There in this simple village was born a man who refused to fear, who refused to accept being colonised. He did not want to digest what the brutal Indian rule implied for his people. He did not think of the village but the entire valley, the entire land of Kashmir. The moustachioed man in a simple Khan had a modest beginning. He was born on 18 February 1938 in this small village. When he grew up, he tried every method to get justice. He was a lover whose only love was Kashmir. He was Maqbool Bhat.

This I know.

The brute colonial face of Indian rule in Kashmir was demonstrated in its clearest form in the way Bhat was hanged in Tihar Jail on 11 Feb 1984. His body was never given to his family, to his village, to his valley, to his people. His body was snatched by the Indian state. But his vision, his passion, his message could not be snatched. That day, we lost our revolutionary. We lost a man with whom our hopes were connected. We lost our innocence. The village was not the same ever again.

This I know.

Over the next many years, households never had a day when one could be sure of the day ending without a story of tragedy, humiliation or suffering. Morning was converted into mourning, as by the early 1990s the Indian military had crossed all the limits of brutality, harshness and cruelty. The beauty of the village felt like the beauty of a graveyard sometimes. Silence was no more broken by the chirping of birds for now the guns and grenades had taken over. My village became devoid of springs as water was replaced by blood. Joyful days went away and sufferings began. Not only some sections but all and sundry suffered; some suffered death, some mutilation, but most all suffered indignity. I grew up with this suffering and silence all around. I grew up feeling something was amiss. Something was not right. Something felt occupied.

This I know

It was no consolation that my village of Trehgam did not witness what a neighbpuring village Kunan-Poshpora did. There the brutality had the ugliest face. Mass rape. From an eighty year old lady to an eight year old girl. No one spared. Multiple rapists, multiple raped, all rapists scot free, all raped still awaiting justice that never comes. 53 is the number that Indian state denies but we Kashmiris will always remember.

This I know.

Today, when I stroll through the lanes of these two villages, which had faced the miseries, I blame myself and the fate of the people. I read and hear about humanitarianism. I wonder where the International community was at that time, in slumber or their eyes had turned blind? How can a nation that suffered Jallianwala Bagh Massacre perpetrate this on us? Why is the world silent? This question still resides in my mind, and I am not able to get the answer. Can we move on without justice? Can we trust a state that refuses to acknowledge the violence it wrote over our bodies? The villages await in silence for the lady justice to knock the door but she seems to have lost her way somewhere. I wish those dark days never come back to us any more.

This I hope.

[Malik Aabid is a young Kashmiri writer residing in Srinagar and available at www.facebook.com/malik.abid3]