Despatches of a Kashmiri
Someone has to create a character and change the script, now!
The pipe-dream of Azadi (Utopian Freedom) was sold to us & planted in our callow conscience in the tempestuous 1990s. Remember the 90s anthem, that was blared from the loudspeaker of mosques...
Hind Ko Kar Barbaad...Ho Kashmir Azad! Ghaazi...Ghazi Zindabad!
As a naive child, l too hummed the-then popular anthem. I too thought, some Ghazi (Messiah) from Pakistan would come riding on a white-horse, & win us Azadi with a stroke of his mighty sword.
We — a band of juvenile boys — would venture out in procession, sing the anthem in unison, & wave the Pakistan flag with fervour & gaiety.
Ah! That feeling of naive awesomeness...A senior who led our band-of-boys would often quip: "Ye cha paak tehreek...tawai che paak jazbaat yewan."
(It’s a pious movement that we’re a part of, & no wonder, it fills our bosom with bliss.) I, then, studied in Jesus Saviours School, located at Magarmal Bagh, Srinagar.lt was a school run by Christians.Albeit, we were only taught academics, having nothing to do with Christianity or Islam or Hinduism.
All decked-up, in my school uniform, in my crisply ironed white shirt, grey trousers & green blazer, l was heading to my school, early morning.Mom always accompanied me.Carried my overweight bag on her shoulders, only to return it to me at the yawning school gate.She would part away, after a parting-peck on my cheek.Mom’s way of telling me, "son, don’t weep, l would be back soon, to take you home."
Someone, from a crowd, running in our opposite direction, said...
"Jesus Saviours schoolas lagovuk bamb" (Jesus Saviour’s School has been bombed.)
Mom held me tightly to her chest, my overburdened school bag slung over her shoulder, & briskly we ran back home.
Thank God! Nobody had died. No kid. No teacher.
I was admitted to Minto Circle School at Raj Bagh, Srinagar.My studies continued.Mom besides doling out a peck on my cheek, every day, unfailingly...unfailingly made sure, l remained a bright boy in my classroom...ln all this, l missed Meena mam, my favourite at Jesus Saviours. O God! I thought she was a God-sent angel.
She was so pleasing on the eyes and spoke with the finesse of the moon.
The Gazi, however, was right in blowing-up our school.After all, it was about our Imaan (faith). You see nothing comes in-between the lmaan and a Muslim, least a lousy (missionary) school. Duh!
So, we continued to hum the popular anthem in unison, we continued to flash-the-flag. The Azadi was just round the corner. That’s what we were told!
While l was buying the latest edition of Sports Star, right nearby Ghanta Ghar (the iconic Clock Tower), a grenade was hurled upon the military men stationed there.The grenade was way off the target, in the process killing & maiming scores of civilians...I saw men, Kashmiri men, falling down, splattered in blood all over. I froze with Star Sports magazine in my hands, and my school bag on my back...Somebody, from behind, dragged me inside a shop, a bookshop.We remained inside it, for it seemed an infinitely longish period of time.
I returned home, not telling mom, as to what l had witnessed.The oozing blood stayed with me though.
The grenade hurling by Ghazi and killing & maiming of innocent Kashmiri men, was bound to happen.It was the price we had to pay for our Azadi.Collateral damage, nothing much. Duh!
Fast forward to 2021!
In Kashmir, we refer to an un-married young-lad as Mahraaz (groom)...the nom de guerre is assigned out of affection, and to slyly let-know the lad that it’s time to look for a gorgeous bride.
25 YO, Aakash Mehra...the only son of Ramesh Mehra, the owner of the much thronged eatery, Krishna Dhaba...was a Mahraaz.
A Ghazi, shunned his customary white horse, and rather choose to ride a bike; & suddenly appeared at the Krishna Dhaba.Shooting young Aakash, thrice, in his gut & intestines.injuring him acutely, & eventually snucking the life out of him.
The discourse on Facebook & Twitter wasn’t condemnation of such dastardly crime, albeit, the trolling was about...As to how after the abrogation of Article 370, the non-locals were eying the land and meadows of Kashmir?
And, so, the hapless Aakash, the Mahraaz, was killed in cold blood, for good. Duh!
Barely two days later, yet another Ghazi of old returned.This time donning our Pheran (a loose over-garment worn during winters).He plucked an assault rifle from underneath the Pheran, & literally at point-blank range, pumped bullets into constable Suhail & Yousuf. Needless & heartless to say, both the non-combatant policemen died.
This meticulously carrying-out of so-called Jehad (Holy War) was caught on CCTV camera.
Crystal clearly! The pumping of bullets & killings of Suhail & Yousuf was conspicuously carried-out in broad-day light. This time around the Gazi was identified too.
Regardless of that, the argument gaining ground on K-Twitter was...Oh! the attack took place at Baghat on the high-security airport road...& so how could any militant sneak into the security-zone, & accomplish the feat? Conversely, it meant, that police conspired to kill it’s men by themselves, so to malign the Tehreek (freedom movement).
ln 2021, Kashmir has to fathom, it has been bruised & battered by whosoever was at the helm-of-affairs.
While in mainstream, Abdullah’s & Mufti’s were adept in nepotic practices, & took turns in swindling public exchequer.ln seperatist camp, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik et al, chipped-in & chipped-away with their piece-of-pie.
ln-between, the shrewed bureaucracy, kept pecking away, clandestinely!...And, this all was euphemised as ‘status quo’...The status quo that succesive dispensations at New Delhi looked the other way.Literally giving a blank cheque to the nepotic mainstream, to the nefarious seperatists, & to the non-challant bureaucracy.
To the brazen 90’s & to the blusterous 2000’s, hitherto, we have lost three generations...their health, their education, their livelihood, their connectivity, thereby their life and liberty...No more please! No more! Someone has to create a character and change the script, now!
Hope against hope!
The author is an alumni of Business School, University of Kashmir, who teaches and writes Public Administration, Management & Governance, and can be reached at a[email protected]