January 25, 2013 at 10:20pm
By Basharat Ali
Congratulations to you on your Country’s Republic day. I can see it is a great feeling. I can see the fruits of your freedom. May I too feel and have them one day.
I thought changing my profile picture to something black would not serve any purpose, better I should write to you.
I write to you from a part of the world begrudgingly cobbled to your map; the one that you call your crown, your integral part. I write to you from the beautiful Mughal gardens and bloodied Apple orchards. I write to you from the posh Gupkar roads and deserted Old Town streets. I write to you from the silent streams of Shopian and the doomed village of Poshpora. I write to you from the shade of every Chinar and the rear of every Poplar. I write to you from the cold kitchen of my widowed aunt and empty bedroom of my orphaned cousin.
I have written to you profusely for the last two decades, since you arrived like an unsolicited guest and settled in every part of this paradise — turning the land of dervishes into a garrison.
Whenever I move out I find more of your men and less of my own. My paradise is ruining fast and turning into a police state with fewer gardens and more camps, less flowers and more guns, less candies and more bullets, less candles and more tear-gas shells, less water and more blood. In my homeland, you question me, stop me, slap me, humiliate me and kill me. I’m helpless, I can’t do anything. I’ve no gun in my hand. In my land you live with impunity. You can kill me and get away scot free. I can’t throw a stone in reply to your blood thirsty bullet. I’m sentenced for two years imprisonment, to say the least. You have all the legal covers to be back to your
guarded camp but my chances are uncertain to make it back by evening. For all these years your country tried everything to purchase and suppress me. It used lots of money and loads of violence to crush my voice. But it could not buy and suppress my yearning for freedom.
You raped my sister in the broad day light, paraded my father naked in the chilling winter, took away my brother and buried him in a nameless grave but I still address you as brother. I’ve no enmity against you. I’m not for war but peace. You didn’t mourn and protest at the brutal rape and murder of Asiya and Nelofar in Shopian but I am equally grieved with what happened in Delhi.
My Valley has witnessed the rise and fall of Kingdoms. It has laughed, it has wept and it has mourned. It has flourished and it has suffered; century after century. It has been a host, and it has been a victim. The history of my valley is colorful—–red. Walk through its pages and you will be face to face with aristocracy, slavery, deception, conspiracies, struggles, resistance and genocides.
Your country is, as you propagate, the largest democracy in the world. I don’t really believe it is. I have all the reasons to challenge and contest your claims in any court of justice. Your own people doubt your democratic pretensions. Take the case of Salman Rushdie and M F Hussain as instances. Here in Kashmir your democracy pales into insignificance.
You call us the integral part your country. But is this what you do with your integral part:
In Kashmir we have 250,000 displaced, 70,000 people dead and 8, 000 enforced disappearance, more than 60,000 youth are grappling with drug addiction. We have widows, half widows and orphans.
I want to tell your country: Holding regular elections does not prove you own Kashmir. Sending funds and setting up developmental projects does not win you a place here. You have failed and continue to fail. Your words challenge your actions. Your policies are against our will. You are the reason my land is awash in weapons and sliding into chaos. You have used your institutions to oppress and suppress legitimate demands of Kashmiri people. Over the years our beautiful valley has turned into a mental asylum. Our leaders have over time become you. Our intellectuals have been persuaded to speak your repressive language.
Half a million of your men patrol through my villages with the latest weapons of warfare. Some of your men along with their families come here in different seasons. I welcome them with a smile on my face. I take them to places of their liking. I host them in house boats. I take them to the horse rides up to the hills. I make them enjoy the beauty that nature has gifted us with. I too visit your country. I’ve to make sure my identity proof is with me every time, no nail cutters, no scissors, nothing metallic is in my luggage. I have to search for my shelter. My motherland turns a menace for me. How pathetic? How shameful? I’m rejected at every door. “Sorry no Kashmiris allowed here”. May I ask you why? May I ask you why am I taken to a police station every time there is a blast carried out by your own people? May I ask you why always does finger of suspicion go on my head? May I ask you why your police spies on me? May I ask you why sporting beard in your country is taken as sign of being a terrorist? May I ask you why your media is so powerful and mine stands banned? May I ask you; is this what your so called democracy is?
I pray ——your country produces more people like Anna Hazare. I pray ——your country hosts more commonwealth games. I pray ——your country brings 5G. You have more bills like Lok Pal to be debated in your Parliament.
I have a lot to ask you and pray for you but I leave that for you to introspect and understand. At the end let me quote some words of Nitasha Kaul from a movie “Inshallah Kashmir: Living terror”
Burn your Bollywood movies.
Come to Kashmir
Walk through our cities, the bridges, the ruins, the graves.
Look at what we eat. Look at our buildings.
Our shrines. Our architecture. Our speech, Our history.
Speak to us. See how we live.
Yours oppressed Kashmiri.
(The letter first appeared in Kashmir Currents, www.kashmircurrents.com)