Writing about such a sensitive topic made me think twice.
I’m a Kashmiri living outside the state for quite a long time now, more than 10 years.
Today, I just thought of penning down something I bare witness to; something that happened to me and some fellow acquaintances being a Kashmiri.
I was in 11th standard, studying in Mumbai. I had come to Kashmir for my summer vacations. As the vacations were about to get over, tickets were booked for me from Srinagar (SXR) To Mumbai (BOM) via Delhi (IGI). As I landed in Delhi, and I thought I’ll get into a hotel room and stay for the midnight as the Mumbai flight was a day later. I boarded a bus and later travelled by the Metro.
I picked an area and thought about staying there. As I reached the hotel, they took my luggage but gave a bizarre look to each other as they laid there eyes on my voter ID card. The details included Srinagar, J&K. His next line was, “Sorry, apko room nahi mil sakta”. I inquired with a bit of hesitation, “Kyu?” To which he replied, “Kashmirion ko room dena mana kiya hai”. “Kisne?”, I asked and he replied, “Police walo ne, sorry aap jaiye kahin aur.” Numerous thoughts hit me hard, what if it’s true, what if I don’t get any room? I left the place perplexed about what to do next.
I went inside the adjacent hotel only to hear once again that I can’t stay around. To my utter dismay, I got the same answer, “We can’t allow you to stay here”.
I went several kilometres just to get an accommodation, but no one was ready to even listen to my pleads. I felt betrayed that day.
People in India keep saying Kashmir is ours, why such a cold welcome for Kashmiris then? That was my first instance of encountering hatred towards our community, something I had been listening to, since childhood. I used to refute their facts, but being in a somewhat similar situation, I understood where they came from. I felt remorseful. Deep down with that regret came some questions. Where would you go? Why aren’t they giving me a room? It’s going to be 10 in a few minutes, where should I go? No one I knew was around. My situation haunted me with each millisecond that passed by. Just questions that had no answers.
At last, when I couldn’t find any room, a place I had heard about was Jama Masjid. I went there and stayed for the whole night, only longing for the next day to arrive as early as possible. Flustered and ruffled, I experienced that day how a person feels without food and shelter. I hated Delhi since then and had made up mind that all the people were the same.
Such incidences take a heavy toll on your mind, and you are no longer the same, especially when you encounter such incident at an adolescent age.
After several years, I came to Delhi again, only to face a similar rejection.
I understand the situation of Kashmiris who are residing in different states at present and are unable to talk to their loved ones in such instances (after the abrogation of 370, 35A.)