Where are we Heading?

Are we being driven or it is this time a case of revolt that asserts in its own way yet another logic of resistance? In order to understand I asked the people on streets.
Where are we Heading?
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Are we being driven or it is this time a case of revolt that asserts in its own way yet another logic of resistance? In order to understand I asked the people on streets. I had a rendezvous with age-old comrades accompanied by a few teenagers sitting comfortably in a shady place on a bright sunny day discussing the present scenario in Kashmir. All I could gather was absolute desperation for eternal peace. Being unfamiliar to young lads I occupied a neutral place and digested and assimilated all sorts of opinions. An elderly person enjoying a very good reputation in the locality joined the session as a third umpire. His recipe at the end when young guns had exhausted their energy made the party emotional. With tears trickling down, all resolved to contribute in their individual capacities for logical conclusion of this issue. Here I present some question-answer dishes with a hope that people concerned must understand the urgency for resolution of this long-pending issue as people yearn for a lasting peace and a dignified life.

Teenagers: Have you witnessed such a situation in your childhood?

Young-adults: Dear, we have seen terrible times but of different nature. The situation in 2008, 2010 and 2016 was/is a people's movement but in 1990-2000 we witnessed an armed struggle. There used to be crackdowns, encounters, terrorism at its worst etc. Army used to cordon off entire village or locality during night time following information regarding the presence of militants. The residents had to assemble in Eidgah or in some large open space. It was followed by parades, interrogation, and search operations. Encounters, if any, could lead to casualties on both sides. Civilians too suffered as "collateral damage". This was a routine. No accountability on either side. People lived on their mercy. Lot many migrated to safer places. Tens of thousands got killed, many injured, and thousands disappeared, mass graves swelled in number, properties worth billions got destroyed and what not. That period was followed by rise of notorious Ikhwan who unleashed a reign of terror of highest magnitude. Those probably were the worst and darkest days in our life.

Teenagers: Oh, no, Sorry for reminding you of such terrible times. How you managed your studies then?

Young-adults: No problem. It was in our destiny. Managing studies against all odds was a miracle, but we were fortunate to have intelligent, knowledgeable, dedicated and passionate teachers. We as students too were obedient, hard-working and had very high regards for them. Probably that paid the dividends.

Teenagers: That is great. What other activities formed the routine?

Young-adults: Dear, if the present generation show similar etiquettes and attitude success on all fronts will follow them. They don't have to chase it. Playing outdoor games like cricket, volleyball, football etc formed the daily routine in addition to attending house-hold activities. We had enough time to manage all this owing to lack of mobile and internet. Their availability is no doubt a blessing but now it has become a curse, a root-cause of all vices which a modern society is plagued with. You may acknowledge the height of moral degradation seen today. The youth in particular are intolerant, indulged in drug addiction, lacking self respect not to speak of respect for elders and teachers. Yes, we appreciate their valour and brevity during floods and mass movements. We are part of same society, same valley and have similar aspirations- a peaceful and dignified life, a society with mutual respect and cohesiveness, a nation that contributes to world peace and gives us identity.

Young-adults: What is your take on the present situation in particular and Kashmir issue in general?

Teenagers: We absolutely consider the present scenario as "a voice against forcible control", a movement to ensure hon'ble life to Kashmiris, to secure better future, if not for us, for the generations to come. We don't want to be victims of politics of deceit. We don't want to live under the barrel of gun, live a life of suppression, oppression and subjugation but a free and fearless life. We don't want to be killed or maimed. We don't want to live with our voices choked but to be heard. We want a nationality based on our aspirations not stamped on us. We too want to be scientists, doctors, engineers, not labelled as terrorists. We want to lead the world. We want to be recognized as leaders not slaves. Regarding the latter we consider it an unresolved issue, wish it be solved as per our own aspirations not by anybody's stubborn views, not forced on us but consented by us. Yes, we will continue to strive for its resolution.

Young-adults: What about stone pelting? What message you want to convey?

Teenagers: Nobody wants to pelt stones or remembered as "saangbaaz" but we are forced to resort to it. We have no other options. We aren't allowed to register peaceful protests. 

Third umpire: With drooped shoulders, moist eyes, grim-faced, topi in his right hand, looking at the sky and voice choked, he quipped:

"Hamarey rehbarun ki meharbani karam hae yeh

Bataktey phir rahey hae hum sharafat duur manzil se"

The conflict has robbed us of the traits we were known for. Peace loving, hospitable, knowledgeable, intelligent, meticulous and straight forward. Now we are branded as intolerant, ignorant, hypocrites, notorious and even terrorists. We were betrayed, are being betrayed and will be betrayed till we mend our ways strictly in accordance with Quranic injunctions and Sunnah. There is no way but to unite and firmly hold the rope of unity. Sooner or later we will get it. Our sacrifices won't go waste. 

Dr Aijaz Ahmad Dar is Assistant Professor, Division of Veterinary Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine, FVSc & AH, SKUAST- Kashmir
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