By Syeda Sana Batool, August 4: The wave of sectarian clashes struck occupied Kashmir in the already troubled times when many were mourning the martyrs of the Ramban killings. It was a few weeks ago when news from occupied Kashmir started flooding my Twitter and Facebook newsfeed.
Many people protesting against the desecration of the Holy Quran and a local mosque by Indian Forces in Budgam lost their lives. This incident took place when some unarmed protesters were chanting slogans against the Indian Army; the crowd was showered with bullets that silenced them.
While the grief stricken families of the deceased were still wiping their tears, the sectarian clashes broke out. A number of mosques in the villages made public announcements stating that the Shias had attacked their Sunnis brethren, beaten up people and looted and burnt their houses.
“There was no truth to it”, said my brother, whose family lives in Bemina, a small town in Srinagar.
According to him, sectarian clashes are always fanned by the Indian government; they use the sectarian violence as a way to divert the attention of the world from the woes suffered by the Kashmiris at the hands of the Indian army.
According to friends back there, the Shias and Sunnis in Kashmir have always lived a united, peaceful like and have fought the war of freedom side by side. The divide is only seen when the valley suffers through other loss,
“The focus is always shifted (away) from major problems to petty sectarian clashes.”
Things were still seemingly under control until one day, news of the brutal killing of two minors, the sons of a Sunni Imam, caught the valley by storm. This was when the hate-mongers took the opportunity to deepen the divide between the people so that they may never rise as one against the atrocities of the Indian forces. As the insanity continued, an elderly woman in Shia locality was hit on her head with the butt of a gun and acquired serious head injuries, struggled for her life for two days and then passed away.
On the face of it, the image being portrayed is that the police are allegedly involved in spreading misunderstandings between the Shia and Sunni communities and the army is saving the people. People, however, fail to understand that both forces have a single agenda and that is to divide the people involved in the freedom movement.
In the sectarian crackdown across the valley many have lost their lives, houses have been set ablaze, villages have been abandoned, women have been widowed and people are fighting for their lives in hospitals. However, this time, it’s at the hands of their own people not by the enemy. It is dreadfully sad to see that those people who have lived peacefully together for centuries have suddenly become a threat to one another.
While tensions are piling up, freedom fighters have taken it as a challenge to reunite their people and remind them of the cause they need to stay firm on. Recently on Twitter, a great show of Kashmiri solidarity was seen by the world when the hash tag, #KashmirNow, became the number one trend in the world of Twitter.
The message was as loud as the movement itself.
Kashmir has seen the involuntary disappearance of an estimated 8,000 people; more than 70,000 deaths and disclosure of more than 6,000 unknown, unmarked mass graves in the last 22 years. We were also victim to the terrible tragedy of Kunan Poshpora (mass rape by the Indian Army).
Photo: Kashmir Solidarity Movement Scotland Facebook page
Yet, today, people fear that if Kashmir doesn’t see beyond the smokescreen created, the blood of thousands of Kashmiris will go to waste.
In my conclusion, I would like to draw your attention to an apt quote, written on one of the Kashmiri forums on Facebook. It states,
“Every single occupying power, in the illusion of its permanence, has sought to further that illusion for some more time by fostering the differences within the land and people it occupies. Many dead, tortured, maimed, raped, jailed do we have to count? And we, some of us, want to burn each other’s house down! We hang our heads in shame. I resolve that we will fight this evil design. Now and forever. We are one, all Kashmiris, in our fight for freedom.”
Courtesy: tribune blog
Syeda Sana Batool
A poet, writer and lecturer, teaching Journalism and Mass communication at a private Institute in Karachi. She tweets @ twitter.com/jaali_journo