Sitting comfortably in my hostel room in the campus, I wonder what is transpiring there in the valley, back at home. Of course I know what I get to know through mainstream media, alternate media but they usually speak of the numbers. What they don’t tell us is what goes on in the mind of a person who is living in the confines of his/her house for the last more than a month, for whom his/ her own house has become a jail. What goes on in the mind of parents who have lost their sons and daughters at the hands of armed forces, of those parents whose children if not killed have been left blinded or paralysed for the rest of their lives, or those parents whose children are fine physically but have been left traumatized by the killings around them. Of the mother of a sick child who is contemplating whether to go out and see a doctor and risk hers and child’s life, or sit at home and risk the child’s life. Of a father who is concerned for the welfare of his son participating in the protests and who wants justice for the death of his other son. These are the kind of choices that a common Kashmiri is left with.
As I write this, there is a flag hoisting ceremony taking place outside on the occasion of Independence Day. I do respect this day, how can I not. Everyone coming from Kashmir knows the importance of azadi. But it is ironical as to how a state that itself was a colony around seventy years ago does not understand the aspirations of the people in Kashmir and is using the same regressive paternalistic tone as was employed by the former colonial regime. Any statement from New Delhi on Kashmir has the same structure. One, it praises of the beauty of the place, and two, it emphasizes on the innocence of a common Kashmiri. Now this is an important tactic, because by calling Kashmiris innocent, gullible, prone to the influence of separatists and the neighbouring country, it tries to delegitimize the protests taking place on the streets and takes away the agency from the protesters. The picture that New Delhi tries to portray of Kashmir’s situation is that of a law and order problem, which it is not. It is a political issue that needs to be addressed politically, the sooner the endorsement of this realization takes place, the better. As Indian democracy progresses quantitatively, it is time to reflect at the ‘progress’. And what a better day to do so than the day that is symbolic of the victory of oppressed against the oppressors, the day that resonates with the empowerment of the suppressed. So, why not we take a pledge this independence day, to not reduce this day and the sacrifice of the freedom fighters to a mere ritual. To understand the essence of this day and raise our voice for the people fighting for self determination in Kashmir, for the dalits protesting in Gujarat, for the minorities who are being subjected to suspicion on account of being minorities. Let not all this violence meted out by the state coated by cold strategic motives take place in your name, not in our name.