India

The Uncomfortable Silence

Eram Eqbal for BeyondHeadlines

 “Car ka headlight band ker, dipper jala k march ker“. Does this sound scary?

I guess not enough to skip your heartbeats. But she lost her peace of mind in that dark chilly winter night,

“Agar kahin waqai zulm hai, dar hai..toh yahin hai, yahin hai, yahin hai…”. If Jahangir would have been alive today then he must have quoted this line.

December, 2015 is something which she can’t forget for the rest of her life. It was another dark chilly winter night. It was around 8pm when a group of friends were returning back to Anantnag from the mesmerizing Shinton top in Kashmir valley. The group was of 6 people which included four Indian breed and two Kashmiri breed.

Bright flashlights from all the directions were bombarded like missiles at the car. Sudden break was applied by the Kashmiri breed who was controlling the steering and car stopped with a jerk.

One of the girl sitting at backseat in a mild tone said “Kia ho gaya hai, aisay kon break lagata hai?… lag gae na mujhy nose per”… another guy sitting beside her said, “ ager voh break nahi lagata toh hum sab ki life per break lag jata. Army hai saamnay dekho… bina dekhay goli chala deti tyre per”. Meanwhile few cluttered words echoed around…“car ka headlight band ker, dipper jala k march ker”. These were the graceful words of the army men who are posted under the controversial law of AFSPA (Armed Force Special Power Act).

Bunch of army men surrounded the car pointing loaded AK 47 from three sides of the car. In the group of six there were two girls sitting inside the car. One of them was wearing head scarf and was sitting at the back window seat. Her heartbeat almost stopped when for the first time in her life she saw a loaded AK47 pointed towards her at point blank. The strange situation also witnessed some inappropriate words from the armed side for the group. The girl was almost in tears when the soldier asked her to pull down the car window, which also gave way to the first eye to eye interaction between them. In the chaos all the four windows were rolled down and interrogation started with the mix of abuses. Luckily one question came which proved to be a ticket to life ‘KAHAN Kay Ho?’ to which Indian breeds replied JNU, Delhi and the girl in scarf said Vasant Kunj , Delhi. And then a reply came back.. “Arey Yeh toh hindustaani hai……” and suddenly the whole aura turned familiar. Voices turned humble, no space for abuses were in the conversation and with a warm smile they gave the way to car.

The whole incident is of just 10 minutes but more than one year has passed and those words are still alive in her mind. Every time news from Kashmir splashes and the very night starts playing live in her subconscious mind.

Those bunch of friends were lucky enough to get their life from the hand of drunk army men. But not everyone is as lucky as they were. The two friends who were Kashmiri breed confessed that they got off easily because they were with Indian breed else two three slaps, abuses or may be worst was almost waiting to embrace them!!!. The word Indian breed and Kashmiri breed seems to be two words about which jokes are cracked but these two words speaks the whole story in itself. It is the imaginary thin line which Indian government has drawn between India and Kashmir in the face of AFSPA

AFSPA (Armed Force Special Power Act) was enacted in September in 1990 in Jammu & Kashmir. Since then in the name of protecting commoners and providing security several army men are using (rather misusing) their rights. On the name of safety and security human rights violation have been done and are being done recklessly. Denizens are leaving every day in fear. Some fear to lose their son, others fear of rape, assault, molestation, fake encounters and what not. The trauma of living in fear is not new and the word ‘justice’ is like a mirage for the victims.

Rape victims of the forgotten mass rape at Kupwara district are still waiting for justice. Mothers of stained innocent youngster are still waiting for justice and many more are still struggling to live a peaceful life.

The uncomfortable silence can be experienced by anyone who visits the beautiful Heaven on Earth. Every passage, every bridge, every house and every eye has something to tell and share about their agony but they prefer to shut their mouth leaving an awkward uncomfortable silence.

We Indians are very emotional when it comes to relationship, attachments and Kashmir. “Kashmir humara hai.. hum nahi dengay….” are these nationalist words which are spoken with great zeal and passion  in general imbibes  humans  while referring to our love towards Kashmir???.I guess we all know the answer!!. Why this indifference???What about Kashmiris? Are they not ours? If Dal Lake is ours then people residing there are whose?

Can we think about it the other way,” Kashmiri humaray hai.. hum unkay sath injustice nahi honay dengay……”Why are we so materialistic?

Attack in Israel, Syria, France grabs our attention enough. But what about the turmoil which our countrymen are going through since the day AFSPA has been enforced. Are the residents of Kashmir lesser Indian? Are they not allowed to roam in peace? Why their race is seen suspiciously? Why every Kashmiri is tagged as terrorist and every house is considered as an asylum for terrorist?

What made the soldiers that night talk politely after knowing that they were from Delhi and not local Kashmiris? Indeed! It’s the mindset of “US VS THEM” and impunity to torture them up in the name of controlling insurgency and killing militants is speaking loud and clear.

That one incident which was just a trailer had made her sleepless for few nights and is still remembered by her as one of the nightmares. Considering her situation we can feel for those Kashmiris who are staying there and leaving every moment in fear.

One of the friend  who is from Anantnaag in Kashmir valley said he never went alone to his school till class 12th due to the fear of army  standing on the small bridge which he has to cross daily. His school was just 100 meter away from his home but neither he nor his family gathered enough courage to let him go alone. What kind of personality that little child will develop who spends his childhood in fear of becoming prey of army men?

Well, these are couple of first-hand experience stated but there are many unheard, untold and ignored terrifying tales floating in the waadi and yelling for justice and freedom to Life!

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