This photo from "Etalaat" was taken by Abrar Ali. Plastic guns on sale in Srinagar's Lal Chowk on the even of Eid
“Eid-ul-fitr celebrated with fervour in Jammu and Kashmir,” says PTI.
“Eid in Srinagar lack fervour,” says NDTV’s Nazir Masoodi.
What to say? I remember meeting a jawan from Kerala newly posted in Kashmir during a train journey. I’ll never forget what he told me: that a Kashmiri, to him, was as unfamiliar as a European. I’ll also never forget the thinly-veiled fear in his eyes — the cringing fear of the unfamiliar , the anger against ‘higher-ups’ who don’t have to face the music that, I trembled to think, would soon leap out as violence against Kashmiris. The same man, who’d gladly eat a hearty Eid dinner at the house of Muslim friends back home…
I know what you mean. But I also read your comment as pointing us to yet another instance of why we now need to be able to think of these issues in a post-national framework, conceptually. The trouble of course is that the nation produces equivalences where there are none, and ruptures affinities where they do exist, and the tragedies of this simultaneous sleight of hand of “sameness” and “difference” are playing out everyday.
For the average man on the street in the Valley the army gun is anonymous. It is the army gun, and the gun does not give him scope to read complexities such as the one you point out, Devika. If I were the army man you met on the train, I would refuse to be the coloniser’s soldier. So the bit about Kashmir being Europe to him can be read in another way too :)
Yes, indeed, I can only read from this meeting the violence and mutual separation built into Indian nationalism. How can one even think that a people so subjected to such heinous state crime would see the army gun as wielded by anyone but the anonymous Oppressor? The exodus into the army from Kerala is as old as the 1940s, driven by near-famine conditions and interestingly, once outside Kerala these people hardly challenge the state or majoritarianism in civil society. I have a feeling that this has to do with Malayali educated-economic refugee status. There was a distinctly trapped look in the eyes of the man I talked with — and I was sure that he’d turn that cornered feeling into violence against people in Kashmir, in fact even more than what the higher ups would order him to do. That isn’t a surprise, I suppose. The post independence formation of Indian States was precisely tuned to producing competition between and self-seeking in societies and not understanding.
If the people of Kerala would be more aware that the agony of these far-off people also produced agony in their midst, then public debate here wouldn’t have been so indifferent to Kashmir… But the soldier is busy earning so that his siblings can earn skills that fetch a price in the global job market…
There is no scope to read further than the oppression, but let me point to a further trait in us Kashmiris: we do not try to decipher anything that is farther than the eye sees. It is true for the oppressor, in which case, the reality of his presence abounds and it is true in case of our self-styled leaders, who we should dissect a further more, but we refuse to, perhaps the Hope that makes us survive each day, will kill us eventually.
It is also essential that such complexities be seen by Indians and not a lot do so. Why? I fail to understand. I can well recall a post I wrote once on how an Indian found the presence of the Security Forces thrilling in Kashmir!
The oppressor is not anonymous, it is just that he has one name: India.
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