Whose blood is this?
The question that stares us straight in the face
LAMENT BY PROFESSOR MUHAMMAD ASLAM
Killings seem to have no end in Kashmir. Since the 1990s, we have been witnessing death and destruction. There is hardly a day when somebody is not killed either by security forces or by some unknown people. There was a time when Kashmiris would even fear an overcast red sky and believe that some innocent’s blood must have been spilled that is why the sky had turned red. And, today, even eyebrows fail to raise on hearing about somebody’s death because it has become so common. Thousands of people have died so far in conflicts with the security forces and during clashes with the police in strikes. Every Kashmiri is bruised and everyone one of us is wounded at heart for the deaths of young Kashmiris who innocently took up arms for the ‘liberation’ of their land but, alas, they had no idea of what arms struggle would entail for Kashmir. They thought of the present and worked for some unknown future. The consequences were disastrous and devastating: death, death and death! Young and old, men and women, children and aged, none was spared. Those who somehow escaped death got maimed for life, a life worse than death. Who would ameliorate their sufferings! We are the people about whom Kahlil Gibran said:
Pity the nation that raises not its voice
save when it walks in a funeral,
boasts not except among its ruins,
and will rebel not save when its neck is laid
between the sword and the block.
Funerals stir us and we all raise hue and cry against the killings, but once the chaharum is over, we forget the ones who are gone because, by that time, somebody else gets killed and we are forced to go into mourning again. There is no end to deaths here, especially since the 1990s. We manage to pull on taking deaths as an inevitable outcome of the gun which our youth took up to achieve a goal which appears as unachievable today as it was more than half a century ago. Somebody took up the gun and got killed in return is understandable but why did others who were not directly or indirectly associated with the armed struggle get killed? Kashmir sees no letup in killings: the heart-rending murder of Asia and Neelofer, the Sopore twin sisters’ gruesome murder, the Handwara and the Maloora kids’ killing and now Maulana Showkat’s! What was their Crime? Who killed them and why?
The Shopian twin murder was dubbed as suicide, the Sopore killing was attributed to some ‘unidentified’ gunmen and the Maloora killing happened as a result of negligence from police which did not clear the debris that contained live grenades. What is Moulana Showkat’s assassination the result of? Every killing is assigned some reason, but the most horrifying one is that of an ‘unidentified’ doer. Who is/are this/these UNIDENTIFIED DOER/S? The most troubling part of these killings is the blame-game that starts between the government and the people. The former blames, most of the time, militants for the killing (as happened in the Sopore twin sisters’ killing) and the latter disbelieving every claim of the government, puts the blame on security agencies. This blame-game has been going on for the last more than two decades. But, the most painful aspect of this game is that none of the concerned parties has identified (or doesn’t want to identify) the ‘unidentified’ hand that is responsible for the killings which have shaken the very roots of ethos that Kashmir was known for—‘kashmiriyat’ which taught us to be tolerant and live a peaceful life. It is ironical that perhaps those who are dubbed as ‘unidentified’ are known to all, but nobody has the courage to name them for they know that if they name them, their life would be jeopardized.
Whoever these ‘unidentified’ killers are, the fact of the matter is that nobody has been able to figure out why these killings have taken place? During the 1990s, most of the killings happened because of encounters and for political affiliations. But, why did women get killed? What is their crime? Fake encounters are not new in Kashmir. Machel encounter triggered a summer-long turmoil here last year in which more than hundred young boys got killed. But, we are not talking about fake or real encounters. We are worried about the killings that take place without ever us being able to find out the reasons for which the killings take place. If men are killed, they are labelled as ‘mukhbirs’ (informers) by some while we blame the opponents. Are women also informers? Who were Asia, Neelofer, Tabinda, the Sopore sisters and the Shopian boy informers of? Was Moulana Showkat also an informer? Shall we ever know the real motive behind killing of the innocent Kashmiris who like the innocent girl-child in pagan Arab would cry at the Doomsday, “For what crime she was killed?” The government attributed the Sopore twin sisters’ killing to a militant organisation—they named two people also—but the latter immediately refuted the charges. The natural outcome of this blame-game is relegating these killings to some investigating agency or commissions whose results are never made public, and if known, they are quite contrary to what people believe—the Shopian twin murder case was investigated by the CBI and all of us know what report they gave? Nobody is satisfied with the report and people in Shopian continue to demand an impartial probe.
The Quran (Surah 5 Verse No 32) says that “If you kill an innocent human, it is as though you have killed the entire humanity.” And, “mautul aalim mautul aalam” (a scholar’s death is the death of the world). In Moulana Showket we have missed a scholar and leader. He was not an outsider. He was from us, Kashmiri. In his killing we have killed the Kashmir that was known for tolerance and peace. We could have differences with his ideology in politics, but that doesn’t warrant assassination. Many innocent Kashmiris have been killed so far under one pretext or the other. No doubt, we have raised our voices but it only in their funerals. We have never mustered courage to call a spade a spade and come out with the truth. Recently, one of the so-called leaders showed some courage and admitted that some political leaders were killed by ‘our’ own people. Who are these ‘our own people’? Of course, he did not name them. Obviously, the security forces can’t be ‘our own people’. Have the Sopore teenage girls also been killed by the same people who killed our leaders? Why don’t these leaders come forward and tell us who these people are and what do they want to achieve by killing girls and attacking innocent people? Issuing statements from the protected drawing-rooms is not going to heal the wounds of the parents whose daughters have been killed. Why don’t these leaders come up with the facts, if they know who the killers are? They can’t blame the security forces for every killing and then ask the government or some external agency to probe the case. Visiting the bereaved families and/or shedding crocodile tears and sending photographs with press-notes will not help Kashmiris and ‘Kashmir cause’ (whatever that means). All of must hang our heads in shame for being mute spectators to the innocent killings, especially of women, poor creatures who have lost everything at the altar of Kashmir conflict.
These killing have a negative impact on the Kashmir struggle. The world community is watching us carefully. They can sympathise with us for suffering at the hands of security forces but they can never support us for killing women. The world leaders, and even those who otherwise are unsympathetic to our ‘cause’, did not take the killing of 112 boys lightly. They did speak words of sympathy for us but none would ever support us for killing women. We might not have been behind these killings but as long as they are happening in Kashmir, they will be attributed to us and to the struggle that we have been going through for ages now. We could swear that these killings have been carried out to malign us, but who would believe? That is why, Moulana Showkat’s assassination has evoked a large-scale condemnation from all quarters. His death has occurred at a juncture when India and Pakistan have started a fresh spell of dialogue and when Kashmir was slowly getting rid of the security bunkers that have become an eye-sore for all. One wonders what the killer(s) wanted to achieve by killing the Moulvi? Did he become a soft target to warn many others to fall in line or get perished? Did it happen because voices of concern have lately been heard over AFSPA, much to the chagrin of the Indian army? Cutting across party lines, most of the political leaders are in favour of the revocation of the draconian laws like AFSA, PSA etc so that Kashmiris, like any other Indian, enjoy human rights which have been denied to them for long. Kashmiris have shown great maturity in not getting swayed by emotions and have very successfully maintained peace and harmony which, perhaps, the ‘unidentified hand’ wanted to destroy by raising sectarian sentiments. It is good that Moulana Showket’s own party has helped in maintaining calm when they were mourning their leader’s death. In the meeting of all parties, people have in one voice condemned the killing and promised to identify the unidentified killers. Let us hope that they are successful in doing so. But, all of us need to introspect on how to save Kashmir from becoming a battleground of conflicting ideologies. For this purpose, our leadership, especially the separatists, need to educate their cadres that dissent doesn’t mean ‘gadari’. I may not like somebody’s political views but it would be wrong if he thrusts his opinion on me. Our separatist leadership—both ‘moderate’ and the so called ‘hardlined’—has to ensure that Kashmir doesn’t fall a prey to machinations of forces, internal and external, that are keen to defame the Kashmir cause and give it a communal and/or sectarian colour. We have lost so many precious lives. Let’s join hands to fight the ‘unidentified’ people who have become a perpetual threat to us—the commoners and the elite alike. People have ever right to ask “ay rahbar-i mulk-o-qwam bata/yeh kiska lahu hai kaun mara”. Our leaders have to be pro-active in exposing the hidden hand behind killings of not only Moulana Showkat but also others:
“Speak, your lips are free.
Speak, it is your own tongue…
Speak, this brief hour is long enough
Before the death of body and tongue:
Speak, 'cause the truth is not dead yet,
Speak, speak, whatever you must speak” (Faiz Ahmad Faiz).
(Professor Muhammad Aslam teaches at the Department of English, University of Kashmir)
Lastupdate on : Sat, 16 Apr 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 16 Apr 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Apr 2011 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM OPINION
Have procured fire-proof lockers: Govt
Srinagar, Apr 16: Kashmir’s historical documents at the Department of Archives here are not only in a mess but susceptible to fire for varied reasons, primarily in the wake of the institution’s failure More
- Srinagar City
Govt apathy fails conservation of historic structures like Qureshi house in this City of immense tourism potential
Dying Heritage THIS heritage house on the banks of Jhelum at Abi Guzar is decaying with each passing day as the government has failed to conserve such old landmark structures. Leave apart restoration of More
Jammu, Apr 16: The senior leader of All Parties Hurriyat Conference and chairman Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement Ghulam Ahmed Mir on Saturday blamed state as well as Centre for dividing people in the More
Kupwara, Apr 16: All Principal district judges are hereby nominated as public information officers of their respective districts and Registrar General will be the ex-officio, the First Appellate Authority More
Govt appeals dealers to make product available for needy
NEXT MEETING FIXED FOR APRIL 21
Srinagar, Apr 16: Seeking to break the stalemate on mutton issue, Divisional Commissioner Dr. Asgar Hasan Samoon today convened a meeting of meat dealers, civil society representatives, and civil More
PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
Kathmandu, April 16: India has protested over anti-India rhetoric by the Maoists even after joining the government in Nepal, with New Delhi cautioning Kathmandu that such behaviour would not improve relations More