“You are a Kashmiri, you must’ve seen terrorists? What do they look like?”
“Have you fired a gun?”
“Do you support Pakistan in cricket?”
“How much do they pay you for stone pelting?”
I’m sure these baffling and saddening questions have been asked of you if you are from Kashmir and I hope you did not lose it. I hope you spent your next one hour making that person understand the realities of Kashmir and difficulties of being a Kashmiri.
What prompts a sane educated mind to ask such baffling questions? Why does anyone care about my take on Pakistan? A 20-year-old me would wonder, but a 25-year-old me knows that it’s not the common people who are asking all these questions. They did not grow up to believe that all Kashmiri’s are Pakistan loving people. No, it wasn’t them. It wasn’t them who thought it was okay to ask such harshly inappropriate questions to Kashmiris. These obnoxious ideas were implanted in them through textbooks, movies and primetime news.
Seeing an emotionally charged up news anchor masquerading as the defender of the nation asking such “fearless” questions to a cap-wearing, red-cheeked, bearded person from Kashmir, I’m sure you must’ve felt impressed by his behaviour on national television. After all, he’s doing a really tough job in his air conditioned newsroom, peddling some much-needed sense of nationalism into you. Giving you the “ground report” of Kashmir. Showing you how these stone pelters are taking money from their Pakistani peers, and revealing to you “exclusively” only on his channel, how your national flag was insulted by a group of Kashmiri’s which was reported to him through a Whatsapp forward. Impressive immersive journalism, isn’t it?
Kashmir is a very sensitive issue. It’s going on for decades now. There’s history involved. There’s geography involved. Dead people are involved. And yet, this issue is being talked about as if this problem has just started. As if it has everything to do with Pakistan. As if Indian Government is doing just fine in Kashmir but it’s the people who don’t want peace.
To know about Kashmir, you need to visit Kashmir, but hey – it’s not safe. It’s not safe for the government if you visit Kashmir, because that way you will get to know the reality of Kashmir. The warmth of the red-cheeked, peace-loving people and their hospitality. They don’t want you to see that side of Kashmir because that won’t fetch them votes. What would your favourite news anchor talk about to keep you entertained? How else would your Government deviate you from relevant issues like poverty, inflation, unemployment? What if you forget about the Kashmir issue and start asking about rising fuel prices, women’s safety?