As a 20-year living in a 21st-century democracy, there is nothing more chilling than waking up to the news, that the most basic civil liberties, that I feel I am entitled to, are suddenly at stake and are being snatched away from me with no explanation. But you’ll try to tell us that the explanation is obvious, won’t you? The protests have reached a point of explosion, you tell me. This is for my own good.
How do I trust you now to decide what is good for me, when you wouldn’t even hear what I have to say? You glorified us as “educated citizens of this country”, you promised us help and support, you swore to protect us. Yet, today, you have reduced us to nothing more than a bunch of rebellious children making a “ruckus” on the streets of our home. You have grounded us without discussion or letting us have our say, by shutting off our internet, and denying us the right to even stand together on those streets, and refusing to let us question your authority. You have banished us to our rooms, forcing us into silence and obedience.
Yet, you have not stopped there. Some of us you felt the need to take us with you, set an example. How weak and baseless is your authority if you cannot allow it to be questioned by us? We put you on that pedestal you call power and you are answerable to us. To us, the same children that you are forcing into bone-chilling, horrifying submission.
We have been neglectful siblings, in not understanding the pain of silence, that you have crushed our Kashmiri brothers and sisters under, for so many days. We were indignant before because we did not understand. We felt safe behind our curtain of privilege, simply debating it as if it were an impersonal issue. Thank you for shaking us awake by meting out the same unjust treatment to us. We have heard the deafening silence now and although we only heard it for a few hours, we did feel that fear of it being an indefinite sentence.
How dare you treat us like irrational teenagers after using us to get where you are? How dare you use that power against us when we’re the ones who trusted you with it? How dare you malign the ideals of the democracy I inherited from nobler men than you?
And it’s not just about us children anymore, is it? Learned men with logical arguments terrify you as much as we do. You shut them up, you take them away and you do not allow us to have their support. You can make excuses about “children” not knowing what’s good for them and what’s not. But what is your excuse for dismissing other men who may know more than you? How did you decide you are above all reason and all argument?
I think what you must understand, first of all, is that we might be children but we are not your children. We are citizens of this country – even though you might ask us to prove that we are – and we have our own minds with our own thoughts. We might not always be right but neither are you, I’m sure. And when we ask you a question, you ANSWER us, not snip-snap our vocal cords.
In the big dysfunctional family that this democracy has turned into, I know there are some of us that still don’t care. Those that you are using to infantilise us, dissenters, even more. Some of them are “loyal supporters” and some of them are “apolitical netizens”. So many are simply the privileged and the fortunate, who do not care about what does not affect them. But I bet, even within that bubble they call privilege, they must have felt at least a moment of doubt today when they could not share their “unopinionated” opinions on WhatsApp, Instagram or Facebook. At least, I hope that they did.
I hoped they dared ask themselves questions, not just the ones we are begging them to ask about democracy, equality, and humanity, but the bigger, more terrifying question that none of us really want an answer for.
What horrifying monstrosity have you become and what in India’s name are you turning us into?