Sabahat Ali Wani
On 5th August – 2019, the valley was put under siege, internet was snapped, political representatives were detained, the special status was revoked and the betrayal continued. India was celebrating, the noise of drums, the saffron flags, the chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’(?) echoed and the media houses began weaving stories of development and integration. Why was the valley put under siege? Why were the internet services snapped? Why was the whole country celebrating the betrayal? It was not a ‘single day’ but it was the continuation of history of violence, suppression, betrayal and illegal occupation.
One year has passed and the impact of the revocation has been disastrous as the education, industries, mental health, and life of Kashmiris has crippled. The complete closure of schools, universities, no access to distance learning, and no proper internet connectivity to take part in the online academic adventures of the institutions, only designed and well-crafted for the privileged class has isolated and alienated the people of Kashmir from the world. The constant trauma of Kashmiri students studying inside or outside the valley still demand the answer to the question, ‘What next?’.
My experience in one of the premier academic institution reeks with the pungent smell of unacceptance, indifference and downright rejection to ‘history of brutalities, killings, and resistance’. The numbness of the fellow mates to the state-sponsored violence and well-crafted or ornamented justifications to mass rapes, disappearances, killings, torture, use of pellets and bullets, AFSPA and the revocation of Article 370 alienates and psychologically abuses the students of ‘anti-national identity’.
As the national media cocks its razor sharp tongue, and fabricates another yarn of anti-nationalism, erected upon the quashing of valley’s resistance and sanctioned by the marinated minds of the country. The valley of ‘gardens and graves’ is often depicted as the feminine landscape, stocked with unruly crowds, desperately needing the paternalistic support and ‘security’ from the armed forces. On the contrary, the regional media was muted and the draconian laws like UAPA were imposed upon the journalists of Kashmir. Journalism is a crime in Kashmir but despite the editing by the talented national media, ‘Kashmir sees the unedited Kashmir’.
Just after the revocation, the limitations by the Indian State upon the Muharram processions, led to the mass agitation by the Shia women of the valley.” We continued marching on 10th Muharram (Ashura), against the state’s orders and showed the resistance against the armed forces, who were using the violent measures to disrupt the procession”, says a 65 year old Shia Kashmiri Women. The preposterous statements by the political personnels associated with the ruling party, acquired the confrontation from the Kashmiri Women as these respective statements were ‘potential rape threats’ by the Indian State. The resistance against the representation of Kashmiri women as ‘gori ladkiyan’ and ‘objects for marriage’, disclosed the politically and socially empowered ‘rape culture’ in the country of India.
After 5th August, the valley has seen anything but development – the closed educational institutions, awaiting restoration projects, enforced disappearances, introduction of domicile law, no 4G internet connectivity, growing militarism and ad infinitum caging of Kashmiris gives testimony to that. As a Kashmiri student, raising these questions would mean threatening my existence and victimising myself because how dare an oppressed individual claim justice and how dare a Kashmiri break the untouched idea of nation, that claims to be secular and democratic.
Sabahat Ali Wani is a student of Miranda House, University of Delhi.