By Shabir Bhat
After the holy month of Ramadhan, Kashmir valley entered into the era of miseries and agonies. A mass and lengthy uprising ensued. This long agitation was predicted by the people of valley. Anger was mounting in the valley due to a perennial state of non-governance and by the continued betrayals by New Delhi. On 8th of July, incredible news diffused into the air of the valley. The entire valley was caught in lamentation, silence in the atmosphere was felt, it seemed as even the chirping birds were silenced, as the news broke that Hizb Commander Burhan Wani killed by Indian forces allegedly in an encounter in South Kashmir. The entire valley was aghast. Cries and woes reverberated across the length and breadth of the valley.
People in large numbers left their homes and went to Tral- the birthplace of Wani- attend his funeral. The photographs of his bullet ridden body started doing rounds on social media. It is said that around 5 to 7 lakh people attended the funeral. Countless funerals in absentia were offered. This is where the mass uprising of 2016 started, thousands of people hit the streets chanting slogans like ‘Hum Kya chahte az adi(we want freedom )’, ‘Tera Bayi mera Bayi Burhan Bayi Burhan Bayi (Your brother, my brother Burhan brother, Burhan Brother)’. This unnerved the state and Central Government and contingents of men in uniform were deployed in every street of valley to scuttle the plethora of voices. On the very next day , on the 9th of July, hundreds of people were injured and more than 15 were killed by the Indian forces forces. The unarmed mobs were crushed by bullets and pellets. The vale was now completely caught in the atmosphere of paranoia. Indefinite curfew was imposed throughout the valley, Cellular Networks were jammed indefinitely. Iron hands were used to suppress the voices of the oppressed.
The Indian forces did not spare anyone -be it old or young, men or women. Taranas(Freedom Songs) were being played on loudspeakers throughout the nights. There was a belief among the people that Azaadi was a few steps away. The indiscriminate use of forces could not deter enthusiastic protesters who were fighting the mighty forces with bare hands. Food supplies were stopped to crush Kashmiris. Trucks carrying medicines were stopped on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, ambulances were targeted and medical employees were not allowed to discharge their duties. The Governmentt left no stone unturned to muzzle the voices of Kashmiris. But the agitation of 2016 marked its name in the longest and deadliest agitations of the world and lasted for five months. It consumed over 100 innocent lives and thousands of people were injured, maimed or disabled. Thousands lost their eyesight due to pellets. Yet the saga was far from over: thousands of youth have been detained and six hundred have been booked under the draconian PSA.
Different voices across the globe acknowledged the fact that the state was committing Human Rights Violations in Kashmir. Even some Indian politicians and citizens agreed that promises made to the people of Jammu and Kashmir were truly never fulfilled. Time and again people here have been betrayed.
The people of Pakistan and its Government paid homage to Burhan Wani and a black day was observed in the country to mourn his death. The Pakistani Government shook the doors of the United Nations and urged the body to take notice of the Human Rights Violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir. It alsi attempted to impress upon India to stop the terrible cycle of violence in Kashmir. However, the stalemate continued for four months. This massive toll added to Kashmir’s painful and torturous history.
Since the past thirty years, Kashmir has witnessed barbarism from the forces. Lakhs of lives have been consumed, thousands have disappeared. There are thousands of unidentified graves. Widows and half widows are seen wailing in every village of the bleeding vale. There would be no crime that forces have not committed here. History, for instance, will never forget the heart wrenching incident of Kunan-Poshpora where innocent and vulnerable women were gang raped by Indian forces. However, hardly any accused soldier has been prosecuted for civilian killings and others gruesome crimes in valley. This is because Indian law has granted impunity to the troops posted in Kashmir.
Instead of opening political negotiations to address the Kashmir dispute, India continues to unabashedly use military force to maintain the status quo. This ensures that the conditions in Kashmir remain wedded to tragedy and pain.
The author can be reached at: [email protected]