I am from Downtown Srinagar. I live close to its heart Nowhatta. I have grown up in its embrace. Downtown Srinagar represents a unique blend of culture, creativity, hospitality, compassion and religiosity. It is a summary of our 5000-year-old civilization. I am proud of it. And, I am no drug addict!
What happened outside Jamia Masjid on the night of Shabe-Qadr-I condemn it and I know entire Downtown was in pain for the unfortunate episode. What is a norm elsewhere, is abnormal for us. We hate brutalities. We really hate them because we are ourselves victims. Lynching may be acceptable elsewhere-but it terrifies us. We as a people always have a soft side for a victim without caring as to who the victim is. We condemned the Jamia Masjid episode the way a civilized society should. Every editorial condemned it-every tweet opposed it, every facebook post cried for the victim. We hope and pray justice is delivered to the victim and his family.
I am sure one isolated incident which happened on an auspicious night is not enough to qualify an entire population of Nowhatta's youngsters as "Drug addicts" and "Deviants". I have heard about and witnessed many street fights in Downtown Srinagar and always seen a third party prevail in any violence on the streets( i.e) the party of reconcilers. The reconcilers erupt from everywhere, receive a few blows but are always successful in putting an end to any fight however severe. Sometimes if the reconcilers do not appear in time wailing women shout from rooftops and rush to the scène shouting "Marun Chuya" and put an end to the fight. This is a peculiar story and chronology of a Downtown street fight where reconcilers always outnumber the violent ones and things are not allowed to go out of control. Most of us living in Downtown have innumerable memories of such fights where spectators diffuse the tension and never enjoy the fight as is so much a norm elsewhere. It is unfortunate that this episode escaped the vision of most of Nowhatta's residents as it was nighttime- also a time when they were busy in prayers inside the mosques. Whatever the reason everyone in Nowhatta was shocked by this incident which is something really unacceptable!
And Yes! while we were still in a shock about what happened our politicians woke up to condemn not just the incident but all youngsters of Nowhatta calling them drug addicts and goons. Poor chaps they don't know what they are condemning and whom they are abusing. Poor chaps don't know their own history, don't know Downtown and don't know what it stands for.
I remember Nowhatta as a hub of political activity. I remember how stages were erected in its very centre and how founder of a political party whose present spokesperson has called Nowhatta youth as drug addicts would deliver politically important speeches in this very Chowk. Staunch supporters of this very political party lived in and around Nowhatta. And, now the same Nowhatta is a den of drug addicts and criminals. Isn't this what we are told? Is this being said about generation next of those workers who gave their blood to a party -then? How did these people and their progeny who were die hard supporters of a particular party become violent drug addicts? If what is said is correct, then these boys belong to the people who are criticizing them now. What was done to pull them out, what was done to rehabilitate them? What made them slip away? What made them go 'astray'? Needs a thought needs introspection!
Yes, the times changed, the circumstances changed but the heart of Downtown continued to beat. I am from Downtown and I know what abounds there-compassion,love and warmth. It is a place where angels live.This, in spite of the fact that grief, misery, pain, oppression and torture have encircled it for the last three decades. I bet no leader has walked into its alleys in the present times. The closely-knit houses are devoid of young males. It is a town of sobbing mothers, wailing widows, waiting brides, fatherless daughters and brother-less sisters. It was crushed, caged and murdered. It is a town of massacres-ever visited Hawal and ever condemned what happened there? Not that Downtown needs any consolation, any condolences but aren't people who remained silent all times over what happened to this city of grace were suddenly jolted into a conscious state by a single isolated act which is still being investigated?
Post script: There is lynching of Muslims going on a daily basis elsewhere in India. How many of our politicians are participating in 'Not in my name protest'?