By Muhammad Muzaffar
A rebel of just 53 days. The rest of his life was a fair replica of an average Kashmiri young boy. Warm, energetic and full of life. Full of dreams too. Basit Rasool Dar, 23, an engineering student from south Kashmir’s Anantnag district was comfortably seated over the promising wheels of his academic career. The going was good and the road of life seemed dotted with thrilling milestones. He was gifted with an able and sharp mind, decorated over a handsome physique laced with bubbling beauty. A rich and caring family background, where he was insured for love and warmth. Things looked perfectly placed for the budding engineer and a long joyful life looked like a dream, about to come true. Till luck betrayed him. Born in the paradise on earth, Basit was living in a virtual hell.
Occupation is truly merciless. It makes life a brutal mix of wild uncertainties. In a conflict zone like Kashmir, the same uncertainties within no time terribly shadow the glowing sun of hope. Homes bustling with life and joy turn into lifeless monuments of history. Here life takes unimaginable turns much like the awful scenes of a horror movie. Sometimes even faster, and even more tragic. Pity that the ramifications and complications of a conflict zone are reduced to the cheap and redundant terms like: political instability, strategic interests, political and economic compulsions, confidence building measures etc.
Ironically the most decisive and controlling dimension: the psychological dimension, is brushed under the carpet with criminal ease. Even killing or wounding of an innocent human is swallowed down the throat as an insignificant, ordinary routine number. Who knows that behind every such number there is a bone-chilling story! The story of sobs and sighs, the story of tears and wails, of separation and loneliness, paralyzed dreams, murdered ambitions, of denial of justice, unattended wounds, unmanageable pain, a million compromises, the story endangering identity, fractured dignity, humiliation and disgrace, peace-robbing memories, anger and frustration.
And the story of helplessness. Since the dawn of armed rebellion against the forced control of India , Kashmiris have been forced to live under the mighty shadows of the same life-consuming stories.
Till July 08, 2016, even Basit himself had no inkling of what the rising sun of tomorrow had in store for him. Nor had his father, Ghulam Rasool Dar, a banker by profession. With the killing of the poster boy of Kashmir, Burhan Wani, Kashmiris again rose to knock at the mighty wall of occupation. Rediscovering the civil uprising of 2008 and 2010, people flooded the streets in pursuit of freedom and peace.
However the control structures of occupation, both native and imported, replayed the scenes of karbala on the streets. Shielded by the lawless laws like AFSPA and PSA, that has strangulated their inner human, they went berserk to kill, maim, and blind the people.
Killings, injuries and blinding again returned as harsh daily realities. Fear gripped the air that turned an average Kashmiri home into an abode of grief and mourning. While inside, the inhabitants felt short of breath like frightened pigeons, caught amidst a dark storm.
Tired of the culture of atrocities and oppression, growing history of massacres, and of a chain of broken promises. For how long? Will it be me tomorrow? And the ripples of mental crackdown continue to grow thick and wide, albeit overlooked deliberately by the political parasites, who are shamelessly running their mills of lavishness and comfort by feeding in the blood and eyeballs of their own people. Once out of power, they wear the face of a savior, talk sweet and healing. This greed and cunningness continue to run and ruin Kashmiris .The same inconsistency in character of the gullible albeit major section of Kashmiris is harvested by the same old trap of carrot and stick. While the herd of polymorphic species continue to sell the mandate of ordinary grievances (bijli, pani and sadak ) as political aspirations.
While the post-Burhan Kashmir was simmering in the melting pot of a bloody summer, a Friday sun (26th August 2016) shone over the mournful canvas of Kashmir. Bloodbath had already crossed over 100 days. The sun would rise, shine and not set before helplessly watching a couple of young boys and sometimes more, being hunted down like swatted bees. People would wake up in colors and by dusk scores would find themselves pushed into dark tunnels falling prey to a new rain, the rain of iron balls, infamous as pellets.
In the evening people wearing dismal faces would lock their eyes on TV screens. They would gear up the remains of their courage, take deep breaths to anticipate some back-breaking highlights of the day. However, that evening, the news that broke ruptured every heart that learned about it. In the home district of Basit Rasool, a hapless Gujjar boy namely Shahnawaz was chased, stoned, rained with pellets and fired with tear gas shells till he drowned to death. He was part of a post-prayer Friday protest to seek Azaadi and raise the issue of rights violations. Next morning the gory picture of dead Shahnawaz hogged most of the local dailies, followed by a short narration about the lawful crime. In his death the men-in-khaki discovered a new adventurous game of hunting.
After reading about the fatal circus, that consumed poor Shahnawaz, his image robbed the solace of my nights and I wept bitterly. I lost my appetite for the next few days. Without knowing or seeing Shahnawaz, my heart brimmed with love and sympathy for him. For his widow and an orphaned toddler. True! Nothing can unite us better than grief.
The gruesome murder executed by the rakshaks of paradise, in broad daylight continued to wreak havoc in me. His bone-chilling image, the stark future of his one-year-old son, weeping in the lap of his devastated mother remained stuck to my eyes. Shocking images I imagined filled with fear, his desperate run, his courageous jump, his desperate swimming, his stoned neck, that rain of pellets aimed at him, the smoke of tear gas shells, his wavering hands, his dying hope, his aching heart, his heart-rending pleas, his tears, his shrieks, his sobs and……and his final breath in the lap of silent Jhelum continued to chase me. I felt frustrated and overburdened by grief. I wanted to climb to the top of Mount Everest and call upon the merchants of war and the crows of democracy and nationalism, and the selfish kings of world peace to make them listen to the story of Shahnawaz. I wanted to tell them similar countless stories from Kashmir.
The wheels of time kept turning. After battling the tides of trauma and shock for a few days, gradually my wounded life regained it’s course. I reconciled to the ticking clock largely by bargaining a story on Shahnawaz. The story titled “when Jhelum wept” later got published on countercurrents.org. A gradual shift mingled me again with my life, my family, and my comrades. The wounds healed and I left Shahnawaz.
I was unaware though that a far off boy from South Kashmir is reeling under the crushing blades of the same trauma. Albeit more grievously. The gory events that unfolded in post-Burhan Kashmir had blown away the fragile heart of Basit. The news of every killing would bombard his inner peace, leaving deep scars on his young mind. The wild dance of death that continued only widened and deepened the scars. After the brutal killing of Shahnawaz, Basit was shattered from inside and had cried for a week.
Apart from being a passionate engineering student, Basit was an avid blogger. He had harbored a great ambition towards writing. His write ups that are still alive speak of his aesthetics. Softness, humanity, consciousness and political maturity. Articulating a story on Shahnawaz could not have been a big ask for him. Alas! the culture of atrocities never let the wounds of his heart heal up and write. Killings, maiming, mauling and blinding of young dreamy eyes continued, so did the blood dripping from the invisible wounds of his heart. He did not lose his peace. It was murdered by the repeating history of bloodshed. Nor did he desert his colorful dreams; they were consumed by the thick fog of conflict.
In his death, Basit has earned a tragic distinction. He has twin graves. One in village Bewoora, where the encounter broke, during which a part of his brain got smashed out, which lies buried there. And the second one in his native village (Marhama), where some eyes are still looking for him in total disbelief. Between the two graves, there is a third one. The grave that cradles the story that made him a militant.
-The writer an aspiring writer, a post-graduate in computer science from the University of Kashmir. He can be reached at: [email protected]