TAWFEEQ IRSHAD MIR
Kashmir lost its claim to heaven on earth a long time ago but the debate today is not about ‘why’ but ‘who’ caused the paradise to wither away, leaving behind only its miserable and yet romantic claimants. Living in this part of the world is much more than facing challenges and hurdles; it is no less than the survival of the fittest. Here, only the powerful thrive, and those who are merely commoners, suffer.
The unresolved conflict that Kashmir is trappee in has left an indelible scar on its very existence. The conflict comes with macabre manifestations like killings, sudden deaths, agonies and tortures, rapes and abductions. But let us shift our atrention from the conflict to ourselves: do we actually care about ourselves, about others, and finally about our valley? It doesn’t seem so.
It is said that in Kashmir nothing is straight except the poplar tree. Do we actually qualify to be humans, given all the inhumanity around us and the history of barbarism that the conflict in Kashmir has bred? The question is, who is a Kashmiri, what are his qualities and character, his aspirations and responsibilities?
It is an established fact that Kashmiris have problems with unity. Everyone tries to project himself as a leader, convinced that he has superior ideas and ideology than anyone else in the whole valley. Kashmiris have problems with listening; they pay no heed to what is being taught to them or advised. They keep insisting on their own principles. They are voracious critics of each other, but never of themselves. They don’t listen to one another, they don’t accept one another. Instead, if anyone comes up with a new or alternative idea, they are ready with objections and dire forecast of the “fallout”.
The people of Kashmir don’t trust each other. They have negativity ingrained in them. If two Kashmiris communicate, they always lie to each other, thinking that the other one is surely lying to them. If someone knows officials and politicians, others will instantly defame him as someone who has “sold out”. The true reason, however, is that the others are jealous of such “influence”.
People here have such a lack of honesty that they aren’t even honest to themselves. Duplicity is a prerequisite for being Kashmiri. In business, they cheat almost inadvertently. What they will promise they will never deliver. They derive pleasure out of apathy. When someone in their neighbourhood is in a problem, instead of helping, they will amuse themselves. If they hear that a woman has been divorced, they will at once start speculating about the drawbacks of the woman, and feel happy that she has met such a fate. If someone is afflicted with a deadly disease, instead of showing sympathy, the neighbours will feel glad that the person will go bankrupt from the medical expenses.
Jealously is the inborn trait of Kashmiris. They don’t want others to get ahead of them. They are always in a bid to lower the status of others. If someone gets a good job, people start a defamatory campaign, suggesting that he/she has got the job because of some influential links. A gloom strikes everyone whenever there is news of someone’s achievement.
In every Kashmiri home, especially in rural areas which account for almost 70% of the population, the dinner is the domestic prime time, when the whole day is analysed, gossip exchanged, comments passed. Without this, they can’t digest their food. What happened in the village, which woman abandoned her father and ran off with a man, stories of splits in other families, partitions coming up in other houses, the financial conditions of neighbours, such grave matters are routinely discussed. All through, pleasure is derived from the miseries of others.
The people aren’t even loyal to their blood relationships. Brothers start hating each other, especially after marriage. One describes the other as the arch enemy. Property disputes lead to parents being abandoned. The era of nuclear families is coming fast to Kashmir.
When it comes to education, people are seen cheating in examination centers, hand in glove with supervisors. The selection procedures are abysmal. Corruption holds sway everywhere, for people are ready to give anything to get a government job.
There is a plethora of such menaces. We are destroying our ethos and existence. We are ceasing to exist as humans. We as Kashmiris should introspect, right our wrongs before it is too late. Or else, these corruptions will infect our souls and we will all turn into devils.
—The writer is Organising Member, Kashmir Law Circle, Sopore. [email protected]