Opinion

An open letter to a ‘common Indian’ from a Kashmiri

Dear Narendra,

Who do I mean by a common Indian? And why did I choose to write to you?

I am writing this to anyone among 1,35,06,87,984 Indians who were alive till Saturday. Among this vast dizzying number of names, among Rams and Shyams, I chose a name for you – Narendra, a name, a phenomenon, you identify most with.

Any Indian professing any faith, having any political leanings-left, right, centre and nowhere – will find my words relatable. And I write to you because a collection of presumptions, perceptions, politics and of course, peaks of Himalayas have walled us off from each other. I deliberately chose an open letter to communicate to you. 

My dear Narendra, I have had a string of sorrowful experiences in the past month. My uncle expired naturally (and by naturally I mean death with anything but a bullet). Twenty people including two army men, were killed in three separate gun battles in South Kashmir.

Have you heard of gun battles? Gun battles are micro-wars where a couple of miserably armed disillusioned Kashmiris fight thousands and thousands of troops, mortars, explosives, chemical weapons, gunship helicopters, and last but not the least, local snitches. What you hear of as a ferocious encounter with terrorists is actually a lopsided battle between bare chests and bullet-proof vests.

These ecosystems of extinction attract hundreds of civilians, who identify in ideology and emotion with the cornered militants, brave bullets and potential pellet-induced blindness in a desperate and failed attempts to help militants escape. An uncanny escape of a couple of militants cost twice as many lives recently in Kulgam. Why do civilians throng to encounter sites, you ask? Why does a bird bleed badly by ramming into windowpanes? It sees a reflection of world behind him. And it sees a member of its species imprisoned inside. Civilians see a similar sieged atmosphere in the humdrum of their lives, in the smoky walls of the crumbling house.

A police officer recently stated that encounter houses were not wedding venues to attract youth. But ironic as it may seem, the militants killed in encounters are showered candies, hennaed and farewell is bid by singing Wanwun (Traditional wedding songs).

Against this macabre backdrop and given that I am one of the innumerable silent sufferers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Kashmir, my letter may read as a rant. Bear with me. Sorry!

I am not building a historical human rights case against you! I have issues with occupation only, and frauds committed in history. Period. The numbers, the toll, the casualties and even pervasive militarisation are just symptomatic of that forced rule. But I won’t teach you my national history or bore you with names of the dead and maimed. A single letter is not enough to enumerate the deceits or revisit the violations. I have some present political and practical grievances though.

Every human, and every Indian, needs security, and governments are duty-bound to provide that. I don’t dismiss your concerns for security. But what does a farmer dying of drought and debt need security from? A Kangri armed Kashmiri? Do you exactly need security from “blood-lusty Kashmiri terrorists”? Do they even exist for god sake?

Your government seems to have been successful in creating, or rather summoning into existence by wave of a magic wand, a pseudo-enemy, a phantom-fundamentalist, an unreal Islamist. And has crystallised the false fears emanating from this enemy by pressing a corporate elite media into service.

With “godi media” at its disposal and its subjects wearing prime-time-perverted glasses, government perfectly manages to propagate its propaganda. I don’t deny your nationalist inclinations, but your patriotism is puffed with prejudice and hatred, my dear!

When Kashmir witnesses a bloody day, and every argument in favour of frail statist narrative seems to fall apart, your Arnab Goswamis cry hoarse, “without our brave jawans, you wouldn’t think of sleeping peacefully at night “. These word lull the Indian masses, including you, to sleep off the dead.

Narendra, your security is being used to justify the killing of Kashmiris. Your love, lives and laughter are dished out as digital justifications of daily murders in the valley. In essence, your very existence is an excuse for ending mine. Thus, for me, a sleeping Indian is a criminal. Indian love-making is a crime. A state of blissful being, that denies my basic rights, is a crime.

An entire population of Kashmiris is condemned to a doom in your name. Yes in your name!

Does it not prick the conscience of a population of 264 crore Indian legs? I don’t count you as heads or hearts; I doubt you have any. For your heads would have favoured extension of democratic values beyond the Jawahar tunnel and your hearts would feel for the families of young boys who are fodder to the cruel Indian cannon.

I have never met an Indian from the mainland. What I see is the omnipresent armywala in the alleys of my town. He is everywhere, in the bunkers with a muzzle poking out, in the markets with cocked moustaches and manning the saffron fields of Pampore. You have any idea about their number? Check your Red Blood Cell count. And the number of forces in Kashmir outnumbers them. The media is a medium of contact. But I have stopped watching evening debates on television and inflammatory speeches by self-serving politicians. How can I bring myself to listen to those who organise a rally in the support of rape accused in Kathua?

Narendra, you love your family, don’t you? How can love for kith and kin and hate for Kashmiri coexist in a single being? Do the contradictory feelings not consume you? Please don’t allow yourself to be driven by madness of politics. Allow sanity to prevail above and over every petty stereotype. No religious or political affiliation is greater a cause than humanity. I am signing this letter off with the hope that Indian common masses will rise against the bigoted governments and rally for lasting justice and real peace in Kashmir.

Will be eagerly waiting for your response.

A hopeful Kashmiri,
Bilal Yousuf.

 

Bilal Yousuf is pursuing MBBS at GMC Srinagar. He has previously written for Kashmir Lit, CafeDissensus, India Resists and Oracle Opinions.

Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position and policy of Free Press Kashmir.

 

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Chacha Jee

    April 14, 2018 at 9:31 PM

    Let me reply to you letter. Indians whom you are addressing have no issue on how Army is dealing. Had you been a Chechen Muslim, A Myanmar Muslim, A Bosian Muslim, A Kurd Muslim or a non Punjabi Muslim in Pakistan, you would have dealt very differently. Try throwing a stone to a Police Officer in USA. In seconds, you will standing outside Allah’s storekeeper collecting your reward of HURIS. You have put yourself in this situation with your deeds. Tell me how long will take Indian Army to send Muslim in 5 Southern Districts to your Beloved Pakistan? Believe me, whole world will cheer as it will bring permanent peace. Kashmir is not human rights problem but a Muslim Problem which many non Muslim secular democratic countries are facing. Your mosques incite you to become jihadis openly on loudspeakers. Now just try that in USA, France, Belgiam or anywhere in Europe. I agree to extent that Indian is week. I wish we leader like Putin, Bush, China, even Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, the way they treat Muslim insurgencies especially like using F16, heavy artillery on Kurds, Pashtoons, Buloch. No sympathy for you. You are free to India with your 4 current ammies, and piggy farm sized family. Go home.. you claim you are not Indian then go to your country and do your jihad and letter writing. By the way if you do get Azadi with land locked Afghanistan like country sandwiched between China and Pakistan, an another terror nuisance with warlords like Geelanis, Malik’s etc, I say that no Muslim out of 200 Million would want to live in India. The question is how will you or Pakistan feed them when you yourself survive on Bakhshish.

  2. Saurabh

    April 14, 2018 at 9:48 PM

    Rather than asking Indians to rise against their government, it is you who has to realize the futility of seeking Azadi for Kashmir. It is never going to happen. Kashmir has always been a part of India and will remain so.

    You mention presence of thousands of military personnel in Kashmir? But without them, Kashmir will be gobbled up next day by Pakistani army which is a rogue force without any civilian government control. You forget to mention that at the encounter site, only a dozen or several dozen army personnel carry out the operation, not thousands of forces as you say. Rest of them remain stationed at other locations.

    Suppose there is an encounter going on in another city in another state of India involving military and militants. Will any Indian, Hindu or Muslim, come out and start pelting stones at the army so the militants can escape? It will not happen because people know the army is doing the right thing – arrest or kill the militants. Hundreds of militants like Naxals and local criminals, who are mostly Hindus, are killed every year across India by government forces. All Indians support their forces for these acts.

    If you pelt stones at the forces who are protecting you then they have no other option but to use force to disperse you. You should know that other Indians also suffer atrocities by forces. There are often news reports of rape and murders inside police stations. It is very difficult to register FIR or get justice as can be seen in the Unnao rape case and millions of cases pending in Indian courts. But people there do not demand separation from India. The cases are solved as per laws.

    It is time to accept the fact that Kashmir can never be separated from India. At best it can get more autonomy. Other Indians have also suffered frauds and subjugation in past but now they have learned to live with the new reality. They are not demanding separation.

    Stop supporting Pakistan funded militants. When there is no threat of militants, the army will be removed from the interior areas of Kashmir and it will be seen only on the border. There are other Indian cities and states bordering Pakistan but there is no need of military in any of those cities, towns and villages. Only the places that allow people from any part of the country to live, settle and do job and business progress fast.

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