The beauty of Kashmir can be best seen in photographs; to the naked eye the picture is quite different. The people who believe that Kashmir is a paradise, if its reality be revealed to them, then in spite of the beautiful mountains, rivers and lakes, they would be horrified to see images of blood on the roads, rivers full of corpses, crying children, scared faces – which will at once transform their thoughts about this so-called paradise.
In other parts of the country one can roam around the streets without any fear except of getting robbed. But this paradise is such a place where one has to defy restrictions to even step out the house. One is beset by the fear not of getting robbed but of getting murdered, kidnapped, or beaten unnecessarily, that too without being a criminal or without having done any unlawful act in the past.
The people here are happy but only outwardly. The constant shutdowns snatch their livelihood and become a cause of depression, so much so that many commit suicide. Women here in Kashmir are not so much enjoying in their homes as mourning, some of them mourning for decades, being widows or half-widows or mothers of sons who are no more alive.
India is a democratic country, everyone knows, but at the same time this democracy does not extend to the Kashmiri people. The special status that was given to Kashmir has also been snatched away and without even informing the people living here. Even then many people ask what do Kashmiri need freedom for?
In this so-called paradise, a person who knows the reality is not the news reporter who dances to the tunes of the government, nor the one who lives miles away from here. It is the person who has been living here for decades, and not for a couple of months or years. When these Kashmiris are asked questions, they always start answering with tears. Suspected as terrorists, discriminated for being Kashmiri, facing curfews day and night, for months and years, beaten in their own homes and that too by people who don’t even belong to Kashmir, they have experiences they can only recount with tears in their eyes and blood boiling in their veins.
Kashmir is not what outsiders see but what insiders experience. From restrictions on moving freely in our own lanes to not being permitted to enjoy our rights, we have suffered it all. From thousands of rapes to extra-judicial murders, from human right violations to blatant injustice, we have seen it all. And still they ask the damn question: “freedom from what?”
Shutting down of phone and internet services result in the isolation of Kashmiris from the outside world. Their studies, business, communication, travel, their whole life is disrupted and ruined. Kashmir is the only place in the whole of India where a student attends school intermittently for just 3 or 4 months in a year, and that too with fear in the heart of parents if their child will reach home safely when school is over. This is the Kashmir which Indian news channels will never report. Surely this short article will be ignored and this writer may even be arrested for writing the truth. PSA, jail, torture in custody, maybe even the gallows, is all one can expect for revealing the ugliness that lies behind the pretty facade of Kashmir.
—The writer is a student. Views expressed are the writer’s and not Kashmir Reader’s. [email protected]