As grief and anger spreads and deepens in Kashmir following the Handwara incidents, another teenaged boy fell to the soldiers’ bullets on Friday. It is bound to ratchet up tensions further in the blood-soaked territory that is home. But the rage with which young men are attacking army camps and police is not about just the latest killings; they were also a fresh trigger, another scream expressing the pain of subjugation, perpetual humiliation and gross misrepresentation of the Kashmiris’ political aspiration by pro-India politicians who speak in their name.
Kashmir’s new chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti is the latest and the most telling example of what the state asks of a Kashmiri. She no more screams justice or punishment to the killers. Instead, the chief minister who made her ‘political capital’ by exploiting the miseries and powerlessness of the people she represents appears like a dot on the template that is used by state authorities to constantly obfuscate the ground reality. The “extremely distressed” chief minister’s heart goes out to “the boy who died in the prime of his youth.” Careful words! The boy just ‘died’. He was not killed! So the need for justice here gets obliterated. This manner of obliterating something so essential is just a tiny example from the template the average politician of the electoral kind uses to deny the existence of a people’s struggle for inalienable freedoms. In that template, the desire for fundamental and political freedoms is translated as ‘development’.
So overwhelming has the statist narrativising of falsehood become that not the presence of more than half a million soldiers among the natives but a set of killings or sexual harassment only serve as reminders of the utterly unacceptable conditions Kashmiris are subjected to. But who is to understand and respond to it? Is it the average Kashmiri, or the resistance leaders? Everything conceivable under the circumstances has been tried. But does it mean the end of the road? Will this state of affairs continue once calm is enforced, which will be as our experience amply shows? Or, the people must invest in interrogating how we lead our day-to-day lives? Resistance cannot succeed if it is thought of as a season. It has to be a lifestyle, to use a cheap description. Just like a wholesome understanding has slowly settled and ‘violence’ is no more random but precisely pointed or directed, from either the protester or the state, the way we live our lives in relative absence of violence is where seeds of redemption may lie. One must work to be free from all aspects of whatever gets in the way of freedom.