Copping in the conflict

A story from the other side of the divide

Sahil Parray
Srinagar, Publish Date: Oct 12 2018 4:39AM | Updated Date: Oct 12 2018 4:40AM
Copping in the conflictFile Photo

I am 24 years old now and supposedly should not crave for a fatherly affection. I should be happy to escape the vigil of parents on every venture I make at this stage, but I feel the need of father more than when I was just a toddler-crying for holding his finger to stand on my feet. I need him to guide me when the mid-life crisis starts bothering me and shake my beliefs. I need my father to remind me that he is there to hold me up if I fall, not from the edge of the veranda of our house like in childhood, but from the ascents in life as I grow old. I need my father to concrete my convictions, of working hard on the road to success, of nobility in my aim- to be part of the system working for the upliftment of the society. The society I saw distressed, ever since I set my foot on the earth in the turbulent decade of the Nineties in the conflict-hit Kashmir. 

Although it was a privilege to be born to a cop's wife, not because it ensured you any safety amidst insurgency that had broken out in the early nineties, but you belonged to a gunman's family, though on the other side of the divide in the society. My childhood passed at a time when the romance with the gun was at its peak. Looking at the father's pictures on the wall, donned in the police uniform with a gun slinging on his shoulders would give me goose bumps. I would spend hours together imagining myself holding the same rifle someday and adding more pictures to that beautiful 'wall of fame'  in our house. But with each passing day, unabated, I would unravel the harsh fronts of the life of an authorised gunman in my home.

I hardly remember my father spending time with his family for days together, but vividly do I recall my mother switching roles between Father and Mother for us, for years to pass. Seeing my father coming home on festivals like eid was equivalent to sighting another crescent. Unlike the one in the night sky, this one would appear right in our kitchen room-reconfirming that it was the eid next day. The travail didn't end there only. During my father's training days, I saw what element a woman is made of, though, I could hardly understand it then the whole. But as time passed by, so do I began to unwind the intricately woven threads of her ordeal. She would always make sure that we are nurtured and nourished like none other in the society, a princely upbringing, which every parent wishes to give to their children. Telephone calls from Father from a distant training centre in Udhampur would end with a long list of dos and don ts for mom to execute. 'Do feed children well', would be the core in the long and rambling to-do-list. Children of such lonely mothers like mine are witness to endless moans and sobs of theirs' in the cold, dark pitch nights. A knock on the neighbour's door after sundown would send us into a cuddle with steely nerve mom blanketing off the fear. The situation was no different when the insurgency erupted for the first time than now,  and as grim as it is today, unfolding itself in a completely new avatar. 


The very role of policing in Kashmir, a conflicted region throws immense and intense challenges at their face.  These challenges just multiply when you happen to be part of the same society. Your battles with the gun are equally as hard as the ones with mind and psyche. Be it the recent kidnapping game-  which seemed no less than an apt replica of some Bollywood movie from the 90s, or the weapon snatching bids, or the killing of SPOs for that matter, the fight has gone now well beyond the battlegrounds, trespassing all the safety lines of division in the Kashmiri society. I remember, on the day of mass kidnappings of the kins of Jammu and Kashmir policemen last month, I told my best friend to escort me to places, in the backdrop of the fear of meeting the same fate on any coming day. No matter which side you belong to in a conflict, you happen to bear the brunt of the rage that fans its flames. The worst part about it is that peace becomes virtual, a synonym to ceasing guns to roar, and the pain is perpetual, emanating from every corner, shrouded in different bandages, bearing eternal scars, transcending the divisions, and thus, engulfing the entire landscape.




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