By the way, why is the government silent over the Shopian tragedy? Asks Dr Rumana Makhdoomi.
Twenty years of turmoil, one lac deaths, thousands of disappearances and Kashmir is an internal matter! Shhh! Finger on your lips. We do not question the integrity of a great country. But we have questions for its intelligentsia, we have questions for our own people in power, and we have questions for our leaders.
Those who were voted for 'Bijli, Sadak and Pani' must have realized that these goals are not achievable – but what about other issues, about which all are silent! Will this write-up break their silence – I pray it does!
As my six year old daughter explains various shades of the word 'Hartal' to her four year old sister, I cannot help but admire the wisdom of my elder daughter. She shows and thus explains it to her younger sister that 'Hartal' is same as 'Curfew', same as 'Bandh', same as a protest march (Chalo) which eventually means a day off the school and a 'holiday'. The wisdom of our children, it seems, has outgrown their size, their innocence and their maturity. I wonder sometimes, do they know why these 'Bandhs' are all about? Do they know the genesis of barricades, protest marches, hartals, shutdowns as curfews? I do not ask and dare not explain, for I know that their innocent souls will be bruised – forever! I grow possessive about my daughters as Shopian grows more complex. Two innocent victims of a gruesome act and a whole 'nation' hell bent to save the culprits. Deceptive eyewashes, organized mouth washes in the form of 'probes', 'commissions' and 'assurances' have saved as much needed 'body washes' for the criminals. Better to forget and get going with our own work – that is what we all think! But then, are we not worried about our own daughters? Who is there to ensure their security?
Kashmir is a place where investigations have always failed – CBI or IB, always add to the confusion causing much needed delay which helps to dense the flames of discontent amongst the locals. There seems little hope for truth to surface, ultimately meaning that no one is responsible for the fate that these young women met. We cried for a few days for these innocent women – but today I am apprehensive about other daughters who are alive…
Why do we have them when we cannot ensure their protection? Should we bury them alive like Nomad Arabs used to? Or what – I do not know. I heard Chief Minister's speech a few weeks back on the Annual Day celebrations in Presentation Convent, Srinagar. He talked about honesty, punctuality, environmental protection and instructed the student community to read a lot of books. Fine speech – I was impressed. But while addressing this congregation of young girls and their parents, he forgot in his juggle of words the most important issue related to young women of Kashmir i.e. their security. Whose responsibility is it by the way to provide much needed security to the girls of the State? And, looking at the events and mishandling of Shopian, can the security that they provide be trusted? If criminals of Shopian are brought to justice, will it pose a threat to the security of a country of one billion?
After probes fail, we pin our hope on "Hurreiyat". "Bandhs" have failed, so Bandhs to be restricted to Shopian. But hardly do we realize that when Shopian witnessed a murder of humanity, who has exempted rest of the State from such murderers? If the act is repeated (God forbid) elsewhere will Shopian remain silent then? How many such incidents are required to jolt the collective conscience so that divisions are forgotten for the sake of these martyred women? We have not heard anything from Sajad Lone either? Hope he did not tattoo his inked finger? Amidst this silence and manipulative probe, who is there to seek justice for Asiya and Neelofar? Will these martyred women be forgotten ones like their hundreds of sisters in the past?
An Octogenarian Agha Ashraf Ali did make a feeble cry for their justice but the hostile winds seem to have shut his mouth too – like the rest of the intellectual lot! And my God, the Human Rights Commission, the Minority Commission, the Women's Commission, and all National Commissions preferred to remain silent. Did a word of sympathy for these victims pose a threat to the integrity of a great nation?
As we were busy in our pre-Eid celebrations, we missed out those bruised men, women and children crying subtly with badges on and bands tied – seeking to know about their loved ones who disappeared without a mark, a trace or a clue. The State is silent, the forces are silent, as these hapless souls move from one door to another or engage in prolonged 'sit-ins' in parks. This exercise is their routine for many years now but their thick greasy tears are the only permanent companions they have. The authorities, they say want a proof, a proof that their near ones were ever taken by the authorities, a proof that these unfortunate ones were not involved in anti-national activities and a proof perhaps that their loved ones were ever born! For twenty years now some souls are patiently waiting for their near ones, some have died in this wait and some have turned mentally sick but each day new ones are added to the list.
We have a reason to ask 'Why are our own streets insecure for our brothers'? And why have these people been left to their fate? Will it hamper the development of an economic giant if the authorities tell these people truth about their loved ones? And what about our leaders – how many times these sat with these unfortunate people in their 'sit-ins' and how many times were their tears wiped? Noticed those in Khakis and camouflage robes occupying hospitals, schools, abandoned houses, orchids and huge bunkers. Caged in these bunkers for the entire day, singing, laughing and whistling at odd times, staring at the streets, hills and mountains, their tired selves and lonely beings derive little pleasure out of this entire beauty. Their frustrations are evident without a provocation, their perversions have isolated them and still we are being told that they are there to guard us – against whom I ask?
If Government of India sends a team of psychiatrists to the valley, they will know the mental state of the troops who supposedly protect us. 'We need freedom from them as much as they need freedom from us.' A caged bird understands the agony of another bird. So what is our Govt. up to? Have we been ever asked if these troops make us feel secure or insecure? If there are no militants to be hunted, why such a massive troop presence – to scare us or to scare the other side". Let people in power explain, let Indian intelligentsia explain? With so much to be done – how will peace return in this integral part? We might head towards the ultimate destruction, but at present – where do we go?
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