It has been almost 20 days since I’ve heard from my people in the valley. It is not as simple as others would want you to believe. Imagine not being able to talk to your family when your homeland is going through a humanitarian crisis. For Kashmiris living outside of Kashmir life has come to a standstill, irrespective of their modern, developed surroundings. Their souls are burdened with memories and dreams of their homes.
The lockdown in the valley is known to all, but little is known of the non-resident Kashmiris. For those Kashmiris living out of India, the worry for their family has been constant and those who live in India, but in other states, have been facing the dynamics of the same problems.
On the first day of this siege I went to purchase something from a shop. Once the people standing there realised that I was a Kashmiri, they started asking others around them the price of land in Kashmir, in loud voices. How could have I told them that it has cost us our blood?
This was not an isolated incident; a few cases were reported in the media about Kashmiris being denied hotels in Delhi, or for example, the women from Kashmir I know were too scared to move around because of the
misogynistic rumours being spread in other parts of India about certain men who are interested in marrying ‘fair-skinned, Kashmiri girls’.
When I say that we don’t feel safe anywhere, whether in or outside of Kashmir, I am not overreacting. I have stopped stepping out of my institute fearing for my life. These fears are real. Don’t be surprised next time a medical report about all Kashmiris being mentally unwell is released. This is what they have done to us. And add to it, the sheer inhumanness of people telling us that it’s all for our own good.
For our good or not, do you think someone deserves this treatment because they don’t subscribe to the populist view? While our friends from other places call their families regularly, don’t we have a right to know if ours is
alright? Doesn’t it suit the champions of the largest democracy on earth to know the whereabouts of 8 million
souls locked inside their homes? Don’t liberals and freethinkers of this society deem it fit to seek
accountability from the government?
These times have tested us emotionally, mentally and financially. I know of at least two dozen students from Kashmir who had run out of money. I myself am running out of it. Who cares? I know of terminally-ill patients wishing to go home or at least talk to their family at home, but who will arrange that one call?
I cannot call any place ‘my home’. The voice of my people at home has become an echo which haunts me every time I try to sleep. Our souls are locked in Kashmir, our bodies elsewhere. We are refugees of subjugation who don’t know whether they will ever make it back to the Kashmir they left before August. Where do we go when this mess is over, if at all? Isn’t this the same as was happening with the Jews under Hitler’s rule?
But the memory of home we carry may someday burst itself into an awakening. We long for home, the home free of suppression, the free homeland, our Kashmir.