By Trisha Mahajan:
“See what the terrorists have done to the trees. There are hardly any trees left in this area.” I finally speculated after being a silent spectator to the deteriorating beauty of Kashmir valley. “Is that so? But I have never done anything to the trees.” I looked with astonishment at the driver who was appointed by my father to take me back to my city from this crumbling heaven. “Are you a terrorist?” I asked mockingly. “I was a terrorist!”
We, the people of India, have always hated terrorists and anything that comes close to terrorism, for obvious reasons. We all know that terrorists are remorseless creatures who have taken a pledge to become obnoxious and banish peace from every part of the world. Terrorism has become a threat to every man walking on the streets of even the most peaceful countries known to humankind. When I hear the word terrorism, the first word that strikes my mind is Kashmir. For me, terrorism and Kashmir seem to have become synonymous. I am not attempting to bring forth the much talked about subject – I am writing to share an ineradicable experience which gave me a murky picture of this bloodcurdling world of terrorism.
My driver is an ex-terrorist. As a child, he had been abducted and taken to POK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) to grow up to become a part of the slanderers. He told me that many children were kidnapped continually. Children from villages of Kashmir usually become an accessible target. They are trained and sent on field to “work”. “I have also bombed many army areas.” I could see no regret in his eyes. All the emotions were dead. Yet his eyes told a painful story. He was sad about being the unlucky one from his circle of family and friends. After coming back, he wanted to lead a respectable life which, he knows, he’ll never have. He is looked down upon in his family because he isn’t well qualified or well placed like his peers. He told me that he makes approximately Rupees 30,000 per month through his present job. He has money but no status.
Before this encounter, I thought that every terrorist, made either by choice or chance, starts following the religion of terrorism. But Asmaan (name changed) proved me wrong. Like all of us, he is against terrorism. After living there for more than 6 years, he has started to hate it more than any of us. According to what he said, “Kashmiris who want to be a part of Pakistan are ignorant fools. Pakistan does not even have the resources to feed its own people. Taking care of Kashmir is a far cry. Kashmiris should respect the Indian army who has helped them in every dark situation despite the enmity between them and the locals.”
Asmaan managed to abscond from POK and return to his native place after many unsuccessful attempts. He is now trying to live a normal life as a driver. Driving is his passion. He has given to us a different side of the coin. Some people choose to be terrorists; others are forced to become. Asmaan had the audacity to break away. But there might be many others who are struggling to be out of this realm of terror. There are still, loads of children who are being forced to give up a secure and innocent life and become a part of this inhumane tradition.
The writer is a student of English at the University of Delhi and blogs at Secret Diaries of a Girl in Love.