Wails continue to ring out from Kashmir’s homes. Our elders continue to shoulder the coffins of our young. Bullets and pellets continue to rain on us. Young boys and girls continue to be crippled. Is this what we were born for?
We are beaten, maimed and killed just for registering our protest against injustice.
My teacher once asked me, “Who has more respect than the prime minister of a country?” I couldn’t imagine who that could be. “Student,” my teacher had said.
But one would be forgiven for not believing my teacher after seeing how brutally the students who tried to protest against the crackdown on fellow students in Pulwama were dealt with by the so-called security forces. I saw boys and girls my age mercilessly beaten and abused.
It brought back the chilling memory of the winter morning I and my two friends, riding to school on my two-wheeler, were stopped by a group of army men near Lal Chowk. They welcomed us with angry faces and asked us to show our school bags. One of the soldiers came from behind and asked us to hand over the stones. He took our bags and searched them for stones. Except for notebooks and some newly bought pens, he found nothing. He handed back the bags and told us to go. But as we started, he kicked us one by one and abused us. He even abused my mother and, for whatever reason, Pakistan. We were in tears by the time we finally left. I felt helpless, humiliated.
Another time, I was standing at my window gazing at the silent road by my house. A contingent of soldiers came by and one of them lifted his shotgun, which I later came to know is used to hunt animals, towards me. I feared he would shoot at me and quickly shut the window. It made me feel like I was in a prison, chains wrapped so tightly around my body that even taking a breath is difficult.
We live in a place where we are denied every right. We have never known peace; we were born in conflict and live through it. We don’t even know if we can attend school tomorrow. Dissent is curbed. What is so threatening about a student asking questions?
They won’t let us raise our voice peacefully, so we have taken up stones to express our dissent. The stone is the symbol of our resistance.