Democracy Banned in Kashmir: Newspaper Offices Raided, Internet and Phone Blocked

From Samir Bhat’s facebook post

The phone never stops ringing in Kashmir.

Six days after I landed in the valley, every time the phone trills, there is news of gloom. We are in the middle of this cruel completeness. The motif is flickering at such a rapid pace that it is near impossible to fathom what is happening to us. A little girl playing in her room suddenly went blind, her eye sight taken away by subsonic pellets fired by democracy’s foot soldiers.

Banning is one of the easiest persuasions of democracy in Kashmir. The idea is to police your thought. Ergo internet has been blocked in large parts of the valley. This is what India always does to make travesty of all democratic traditions in a place often hailed as its ‘atoot ang’ or ‘inseparable limb’. Even the most crazed of psychopaths would not mutilate their own limb!

media gagged in Kashmir

Over the last four days more than 36 boys, some too young for even beards, have been slayed in the valley. Close to 1500 protesters lay injured, hundreds of them blinded by high-velocity pellet guns that the government forces use indiscriminately, with zero regard to life and limb. Ambulances ferrying the injured to hospitals have come under attack in some cases. Women protesters dragged by their plaits in the alleys of Srinagar.

Mir Suhail
Cartoon: Mir Suhail

Perhaps because Kashmir is looked upon as a possession in the occupational imagination – a proprietorship that must be guarded jealously, India acts like a bulldozer in the valley. When Jat protesters in Haryana and elsewhere burn public property or hurl stones at trains, police resorts to water canon to disperse mobs. To break up protests in Kashmir, live ammunition is used. Why does an act of expression in the valley abruptly become so repugnant that it has to be silenced for ever?

Kashmir is irate notwithstanding the balderdash that a large section of Indian media repeats on a nightly basis. Burhan’s killing might have sparked it this time around but the genesis of this anger is much deeper. It goes beyond a smart, good-looking lad in camouflages provoking a hulk. In a David versus Goliath scenario, when everyone expects the underdog to be beaten up, the results are often diametrically opposite.

Those filthy collaborators, who tattle on their own, don’t realise that in the locomotive of history, quislings are the also-rans, the scum who get relegated to the margins of the narrative.

It has also been a classic tactic of democracy and its substratum in Kashmir to encourage negative personality traits, where people hold a cynical view of themselves. Even this is doomed to fail because in the end aspirations triumph over all hogwash.

The unvarnished truth is that the furor in our hearts is not some alienation with India or instigation from Pakistan. The stones and slogans and indignation and tempestuousness is not about some displeasure that Kashmiris harbour. It is a yearning, a slow burn, a hunger that won’t be slaked by a road here, or a package there. The current cycle of violence might even stop in a few days, weeks, but in reality its effects won’t taper off.

Unless the sentiment is not addressed, the phones, I am afraid, would continue to ring.




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