Who Am I?

A Kashmiri’s Questionnaire of Lament
By Mohsin Manzoor

I am a Pakistani when I speak of my freedom or the plebiscite promised to me; I am an Indian when I speak of neither. I am a double agent when I speak of my rights; I am a collaborator when I don’t. When I fight for my rights unconstitutionally I am a terrorist; when I fight for these constitutionally I am a ‘threat to public safety’. I am a hypocrite when I vote for development; I am a fool when I don’t. Ironically I know that that you know I am not any of these. I have been long asserting my rights, my freedom, my honour, my dignity, my fair share of justice and I will until I have these. The first great historian of my land has said( when I was a Shaivite), ‘the country may be conquered by the force of spiritual merit, but not by the force of soldiers. The inhabitants are afraid only of the world beyond’.

What grieves me is why I have to assert for my rights in the first place? Why am I denied these? Is it only because I was born in a state that has a sordid history of being a bone of contention between two hostile neighbours?

Neighbours that take territory and its people as mere possession of honour and pride which if let go would bring a disgrace to their name. Would losing it strip one state of the false principles that it boasts to uphold? Would its absence denude the ideology that the other was created for? Are they trying to avenge themselves-the harms they have inflicted on each another- by killing me? Are they trying to make large sums of money spent on the defence and arms count by testing them on me? Is it because of the rich resources of my land that have been long exploited by one country and the other wants as well? Is it because of the strategic importance my land has for both of them? Or is it for the whole bunch of mute and spectator countries who claim to carry the Human Rights burden? Is it because one wants to forcefully integrate my land and its people but not assimilate me or my culture? Or is it perhaps the other narrowly thinks that it shares a part of my culture thus me too? Or is it because the world order wants me to be exploited for in the game of chess the king needs to be protected at the cost of pawns?

Whatever maybe the reason, it is me who suffers. I am no less an individual unworthy of dignity and honour received by citizen of any other country. Who are the powers that be befooling- themselves, their people, me or the world, by giving a bad name to my struggle?

They may hide and obscure facts but the fact is I was born free with a life I can lay for my land and my people. I may be throwing stones and getting bullets and pellets in return. I may not know the proper way to protest but I know I have to fight. Fight for my own freedom, my sister’s honour, my brother’s life, my mother’s wails, my father’s pain, my child’s corpse and for the innocent blood that has been long shed. And I will fight. Fight against the oppressor who is either disguised as a friend, a sympathiser, guardian of human rights or an open enemy. I have grievances. I will struggle to relieve them. I will take stones in hand and bite whatever comes in return. No matter what they call me I am no disguised identity. I am a Kashmiri.
PS: I could not mail during the peak days of unrest because my right to speech and expression was a threat to the ‘national interest’.

Mohsin Manzoor can be reached at: mailmohxin@gmail.com

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