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Why I Think Kashmir Celebrates Martyrdom

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By Junaid Rather:

What would you call Kashmir, if not an absolute death of democracy and mockery of human rights at all levels across religious faiths, or perhaps it is a living wound – the by-product of the rage and blindness of totalitarian system that has nearly destroyed what was once synonym of paradise in poetry and literature of the world, and is rewriting itself with its own blood.

And all that a totalitarian system is capable of stimulating is Martyrdom, and more totalitarian the system becomes, it is sure to face the fury of extreme martyrdom. Reading it in the newspaper and watching it on the television in the comfort and safety that secure free, social environment with opportunities provides is one thing and experiencing it firsthand every day under threat and chaos is another.

Martyr is a person who is put to death or endures great suffering on behalf of any belief, principle, or cause. In a milieu like Kashmir, one sacrifices his or her life for the native cause. It is the height of patriotism. It takes tough to sacrifice all the comforts and choose to fight for a cause where you are the oath to die. Frustration, unease, desolation, helplessness, depression, despair, victimhood and what, not the person living in Kashmir goes through. The present day Kashmir is nothing less than victor Frankenstein monster, with no essence, no life, and no identity left.

Kashmir is situated in the foothills of mighty Himalayas, shares its borders with three nuclear power countries- India, Pakistan, and China. It is the only Muslim-majority state which is under Indian rule. Its geopolitical situation makes it more volatile. As per the research conducted by Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society entitled ‘Structures of Violence’, Kashmir is the world’s highest militarised zone with the strength of the armed forces within the state, between 6.5 lakh (656,638) to 7.5 lakh (750,981).

India’s aggression on Kashmir has always been extreme. Since 1989, when Kashmir witnessed its first armed resistance against Indian occupation, the Indian state did everything to suppress people, from killing people, to arresting on suspensions to burning down markets. There were many women subjected to rape and molestation too. Today Kashmir has more than one lakh people dead ever since the insurgency.

New Delhi never hesitates to call Kashmir ‘indisputable’, yet goes on calling itself a sovereign state. It miserably fails to form any kind of connect with ‘its people’ by suppressing the voice of the Kashmiris. It seeks answers to unpleasant questions by shooting pellets at people rather than addressing the elephant in the room.

Today, Kashmir celebrates martyrdom, because Kashmir, perhaps, is trying to tell a tale untold while it wonders how does any nation, any government, justify burning down of markets in a state by army-deputed for protection, How and why does everyone who take such keen interest in the Kashmir issue, and seem quite keen on resolving it, play deaf and dumb to all the insufficient or incomplete investigations done by various authorities for all the heinous crimes committed by the army against men, women, and children of Kashmir. How do you justify the killing of more than one lakh people?

There are thousands of people who were taken away by security forces and never released. According to Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), an organisation formed by the parents, whose kids were picked up by security forces, there are as many as 8 thousand to 10 thousand children whose whereabouts are missing. No jail has a trace of them. There are hundreds of women who long to meet their dear ones but the culture of impunity the government forces enjoy, it is highly unlikely that justice would be delivered.

“I am longing to see my son who was taken away by the Army in 1993. I have searched for him in every jail but couldn’t find traces. My struggle will end when I die,” says Parveena Ahngar, who heads APDP.

Many types of research, that were conducted by the department of sociology at Kashmir University from 2002, have time and again been highlighting victimhood, depression, Post Trauma Stress Disorder and similar mental burnouts, that are most common amongst youngsters.

According to the data available at the Valley’s lone psychiatric hospital at Rainawari, suggest that 60 percent of patients are women who are primarily diagnosed with Post Trauma Stress Disorder. One of the factors that can’t be disassociated with Kashmir conflict is that men and women have walked shoulder to shoulder and are sharing a common grief.

While everyone talks of intolerance, Kashmir is at the centre of it and is often ridiculed and criticised for celebrating martyrdom. I think that there are better ways of dealing with the situation for both sides, than pushing away the state further into the darkness of abandonment syndrome.

Continual cycles of violence, torture and killings have led to the suffering of two generations. Any analysis will prove victimhood most common among youngsters; the New Delhi’s approach towards Kashmir has always evoked alienation among Kashmiris. All the financial injection led by New Delhi has time and again failed to entertain masses. The conflict is as relevant and active now as it was during the insurgency.

Kashmir now celebrates Martyrdom because the government has always opted for an approach that has time and again only evoked alienation in the hearts and minds of Kashmiris. The government has failed to understand that sometimes it takes more than the subsidy, and flawed financial injections to win masses.

The intensity and magnitude of the relevancy and activeness of the recent revolt make the present situation as volatile as it was during an insurgency. While everyone feels that it’s justified and bonafide for them to discuss and pass judgments about Kashmir as a state and what side it should take, no one ever seems to be discussing, how abnormal, insecure and uncertain life is for the people living the chaos every day for decades.

With every passing day, militancy is finding its adobe in the Valley and young boys are joining different militant ranks. There are many reported incidents where teachers, college toppers, and government employees have joined militancy.

What compels them to leave their career and join hands with militants? Is it mere heroism or is there any rational relevance? When one looks into Kashmir, every house in Kashmir has lost someone dear; every person is a story of suffering untold. I have never seen a rational argument taking place to find out what is compelling a young man to strap a bomb around him and die a martyr, leaving behind all the possibilities of a bright future that lies ahead.  Would anyone in their sane mind leave it all for mere heroism or is there any rational relevance?

In spite of the security forces approach and all the atrocities, that only thing that keeps the flame of hope for justice ablaze in the hearts and minds of Kashmiris today, is Martyrdom. There has to be a cause worth it for an old father to have the strength to shoulder his young son’s coffin.

The sufferings have brought the natives to their knees. The Indian state has always adopted the “Justice delayed, justice denied” technique which has many rational reasons. One of the foremost reasons would be that, in most of the crimes, security establishments are involved and in a country like India, a judiciary can’t afford to disappoint army.

In the last six months, around 80 militants were killed and ever since more people have joined the militant ranks. And now, those coming from good academic backgrounds too, are becoming a part of it. The recent death of a young charming commander Burhan Wani has resulted in unrest in the region.

This barbaric suppression by security forces has cost many their vision to see and this includes a five-year-old boy who also became a victim. Around 30 people are reported to have lost their eyes to India’s aggression.

In such circumstance, how can one not fight a tyrant who is determined to kill irrespective of age and gender? The pictures circulated on social media platforms are enough reason for Kashmiris to fight for their indigenous cause for next 20 decades.

The recent visit of Home Minister Rajnath Singh is an eye opener for all those who believed that the Indian state feels for the people of Kashmir and is interested in dialogue.

Soon after his visit, Gowhar Geelani, a Kashmiri Journalist wrote on his facebook wall: “India’s home minister Mr. Rajnath Singh in his press conference at Srinagar’s airport refused to apologise for 50 civilian killings and injuries to over 3,000 unarmed Kashmiris at the hands of government forces, which was in a way clean chit to the trigger-happy forces.”

Any prediction regarding Kashmir would be inaccurate in the given circumstances. The situation remains as precarious as ever and any incident can induce potential danger to law and order equations. The massive public unrest of 2008, 2010, 2013 and now in 2016, are reminders of how quickly, a relatively small incident can snowball and engulf its youth populace in no time.

The need of the hour is to admit that Kashmir is a disputed territory and it is a high time for all the stakeholder to start a dialogue. If the Kashmir issue is solved, both the nations can maintain peace and also, terrorism will end between the duos. Military invasion can suppress the people but can’t kill the will of those who are determined to fight injustice and want freedom from chaos. Kashmir celebrates Martyrdom to keep ablaze the flame so someday in the light of it maybe, the administration that claims it will learn what it takes to win people.


Image used for representation only.
Image source: Paula Bronstein/ GettyImages
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  1. Debasis Datta

    Some people are talking about “Human Rights” in Kashmir but what happened to those Pundits who were beaten and looted in Kashmir by those so called Kashmiris because they were hindu ??

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