The Wait for a spring

Muhammad Gowhar Farooq

When I last left for Delhi the number of deaths in uprising since 11 June was 11 now it stands 111. Then the demand was justice for Tufail Mattoo now it is Aazadi.

I arrived home when it was pitch dark.  The next morning I witnessed the first sights of resistance, a black flag atop a public bus (a symbol of mourning for dead in the uprising). Shutters half open revealing what Kashmiris are going through; helplessness and confusion. Our locality was always considered a moderate zone with a few pockets of violence, until CRPF troopers shot dead a teenager. My mother says that day slogans reverberated like war drums. It took State Government no less than Geelani’s release to pacify people. Today the moderate zone is no more moderate. The writing is on the wall. The walls of our colony and many other bear Graffiti messages like “GO INDIA GO, AAZADI, WE WANT FREEDOM, FREEDOM OR MARTYRDOM and several others that may perhaps hurt many Indians reading this. Some weeks ago I got an invitation of Graffiti campaign on Facebook. I did not join it but I saw it practically applied on the walls and roads of Srinagar. Roads painted with Graffiti so neat that one wonders about the effort it must had taken. This is Kashmiri’s Intifada (Uprising as in Palestine). India is burning all bridges for any settlement, for me if educated and once remarked chocolate faced, teenagers of my Colony see stone pelting as their last option of resistance then times are worst for all of us.

Here everything bears the traces of conflict. A walk along the road and one can make out the marks of burnt rubber tyres, black dust on the peripheries to testify that they burnt till wires. I went to a hair salon to trim off my unkept beard, back at Delhi I keep it for months; here it means inviting trouble. As I entered I saw two men absorbed in newspapers one was in late fifties and other in sixties. Before I could gather my senses, the political debate had already set in. Salons like these have always been small hubs of political and social discourse.  Solution of Kashmir is debated, discussed and contested every day. Pertinent to say that a barber had raised cudgel against the then Dogra Government sponsored prostitution and won the cause.

My classmates in Delhi often say that I am too vocal or perhaps harsh with words and views, but who will tell them that even the dormant of the volcanoes burst when given a vent. In Kashmir even six year olds know the cause of turmoil and yet nobody speaks about it or maybe forced to remain silent. I met a friend who happened to be my batch mate in an elite missionary school of the valley. He now sports a beard without a moustache and uses Facebook under the fake name of Ghafaar Kak. There are hundreds like him whose fake names provides them a cover to express their views on Facebook at the times when SMS’s or even telephone services are cut-off, local media gagged and when you don’t  get even a newspaper for weeks.

The other day I went to attend the marriage of one of my close friend’s sister. The bus I took left us midway. Some people I heard had blocked the road. They were protesting the arrest of a youth accused of stonepelting. About 1500 youth or may be more have been arrested in past few weeks, all accused of stonepelting. The Government stated the figure as 64 in the State Assembly. Anyways, when I entered his house I saw young woman with her son; barely seven years old. She had held him with one hand while washing his face with the other. What caught my attention were the lines they were echoing. The mother said “Aadi Roti Khayaygay…” and son replied “Sir Nahi Jukayaygay,” a slogan coined in 2008 uprising after the economic blockade was forced on Kashmir.

My classmates here ask me how “long will your struggle continue?” My answer to them is that we have passed the flame of resistance to next generation or may be forced to pass. This may sound too philosophical but then this is a fact. My younger brother, I often wondered would say that he never saw any suppression and aggression in his life, that he is free under India, that our cause is no more relevant. Indian forces have proven me wrong.2008 and now this year they have willingly or unwillingly exposed the new generation to what they would have ideally concealed. Today when my brother who is studying in a reputed school says that his classmates have minted a new slogan “Khoon Ka Badla June Mai Langay” I feel India has lost another physiological battle.

Youth in Kashmir is being pushed to wall, education, employment, future, freedom of expression, freedom of movement or even the term ‘youth’ itself are mere words which are used and manipulated as and when required. I heard stories of classmates of my childhood being fired, tortured and only released after a bribe. A cousin of one of my friend was hit by pellets in his head; he has just cleared the entrance exams for Engineering. I saw desperation hanging on the faces of once glowing people, so helpless that even they hate the idea of life. In a conflict your patience is being tested every moment. Sometimes you feel like giving up but then you carry the weight of thousands of brethren who sacrificed their lives for our good. You feel caged, so disturbed that even the breathing seems a burden.  I wonder how long can a man wait for a dawn when the night is so murky that you don’t even realize your existence.

I knew that I had to leave in a day or two so I went to spend some time at Dal Lake. A day before separatist leader Masarat Alam was arrested. He stands accused of orchestrating this year’s uprising. Masarat had evaded the arrested for four months. That day I walked almost twenty kilometres under scorching sun. My mother said “You are crazy.” Probably she does understand what it feels like yearning for one glimpse of your motherland or of one stroke of a breeze. When I finally left, the mosques were reverberating with chants “La illaha Illaha anta subhana ka inni kuntu minas zalimeen”. I could feel tears trickling down. I tried to hide them, I failed and I often fail so. And then the bus left. The tears kept brimming. The air was foggy and cold. The majestic Chinars had turned yellow, they will stand the cold winter to turn green again and so will I for a return to see them. But perhaps the one which longs most for a spring, at least more than Chinars and I do is KASHMIR…!!


About theparallelpost
The language of words is more heavenly than the language of tongues and lips. The Parallel Post is a forum to offer a space for people who dare to speak through their words. The intention is to create an environment to share in words what we perceive in our minds...

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