‘Their hearts are harder than our stones’
Breaking through the fear barrier
I was always a pacifist until that day when my hands were soaked in the blood that oozed from the neck of my friend. He was shot dead by the Indian forces. Two holes in the neck. I learnt later – after I had broken out of the stupor of rage, grief and helplessness – that he had left his home to join the funeral prayers of a young girl, Fancy Jan, who was killed a day earlier in Batamaloo Srinagar. That was way back in 2010.
At the most I would walk with the protest processions and respond to the slogans. I was not a coward but I had never felt that rage inside me against India, but there was always a faint voice inside me telling there was something wrong going on. I had never thrown a stone, for I had never found my target and the purpose of it.
The day my friend died and the day I saw his family, I had known for years, wailing and going frenzy for their irreparable loss, the rage inside me started to brew and needed a vent. I joined his funeral procession and shouted the slogans of Aazadi as loudly as I could. That did not help. I felt like crying and so I did. It only added to my despondency. My other friends, who had already taken to the battle field where the bullets clashed with stones, had found their vent, they had found their targets and they knew the purpose of the war they were fighting.
When my friend was buried, I had already started feeling different. The element of fear inside me, I thought, no longer existed. I felt I would implode if my anger did not get a vent.
Maisuma, in 2010, was the war-zone, the bloodiest battle-field, a patch of land where every man holding a stone entered fearless and left victorious. I made my mind to baptize myself in this war-zone. A fierce battle of stones against the bullets and teargas shells was going on. Many of my friends and acquaintances were already on the frontline challenging the great Indian democracy. Watching them fearlessly throwing stones at the signs of occupation sent a chill down my spine and I don’t remember how I grabbed a stone, ran forward and hurled it at the group of Indian forces. I remember the stone hitting the shield of CRPF personnel. He moved a few steps back and then all of them charged forward together, shouting and hurling abuses. We ran for cover in the alleys I knew so much by heart that I could walk through those eyes closed.
That was the first stone I hurled. That was when I had found the target – that was behind that shield that protected the oppressor from all the sins he had committed. That was how I entered into the fold of stone-throwers.
Today, after six years of relentless stone-throwing, there are seven FIRs registered against me. I have spent days, weeks and months on end in the different jails. I have been tortured multiple times by Indian forces so severely that I craved to die, yet I survived only to throw stones again to break that shield of the oppressor.
Over these years, stone-throwing has become more meaningful than it was on the first day. Every stone I have hurled had a purpose, a reason and a defined target.
I know stones won’t kill the half a million Indian forces who have been unleashed on the innocent Kashmiris for a sole purpose: to break their will for freedom. But every stone I throw is a statement, a defiant answer to India’s mighty oppression.
During one of my spells in jail, when my torturer was plucking my nails with the pliers, he asked me if I would throw stones again. But as I was wriggling in pain, unable to answer, I passed out. As I came to, with a wrenching pain, I resolved it in my mind that if anything could break their will, it was the stones thrown at them that would one day penetrate their shields. I had delved deep inside the fear and known its horrendous corners during my time in jail, and it was there that I realized how weak our oppressor was. Its entire empire is built on the pillars of fear, and once you have done away with fear, the oppressor will crumble down.
Never has a stone killed anyone from our enemies’ side, but as I throw them, I always expect when it hits anyone of them or their shields, it reminds them of their sins they commit and wakes up their conscience. But then there is a fact: our stones are softer than their hearts. So as long as their hearts don’t melt out of the guilt that burdens and haunts them in their loneliest moments, I will relentlessly throw stones at them.
—As narrated to Qadri Inzamam and Mohammad Haziq