Kashmir: Where Is Our Sky?

Javaid Iqbal Bhat


Sonmarg - Kashmir -This shot was taken in Kashmir, specifically at Son-
marg. They call it heaven on Earth! Across Latitudes (flickr)

Another week has passed. The holy month of Ramdhan has also entered. Except waking up before dawn for taking ‘sehri’ meals, and then opening the fast after some seventeen hours, the week was same as the foregoing seven days. The same angst came after the similar questions. The brains have turned into question popping boxes. What, where and how many constitute the trinity wedded eternally to which are our neurons. An answer to ‘where’ can be any place on the map of Kashmir.Kupwara, Kangan, Mattan ,Pattan you name the place it is very much possible that human life has been terminated in one of them. The answer to ‘how many’ brings emotionally-purged statistics. As if there were no hopes, dreams and feelings behind those dry figures. Much like the answer from a shepherd, fresh from a mountain meadow, who is asked how many have disappeared from the flock. His heavy hearted answer has much to do with the details of compensation than with the life gone extinct. We are a flock of fear-frozen sheep in this Himalayan meadow; hung against some mountain is a press-on, press-off button controlling the movement and direction of people. Every week a few wayward, misbehaving lambs are done to death. No one keeps a count of the injured or the permanently disabled. Like a lame ram they just cannot help their cases; either they have to fall by the wayside or drag their way up into the flock. The dust of the flock clouds their pain. That is expected. Where dead do not have the luxury of being mourned, the lame and the injured have to learn to carry on by themselves.

In all this some sheep dare to bleat, what next? How long is the curfew going to continue? Is there an exit door from this chaos? There is a friend whose father was saying the other day that this was the longest duration curfew in the history of Kashmir.He was talking about Srinagar. This is also a curfew which leaves few parts of the meadow from its grip. Across the valley the word commonly heard is ‘zulm.’ The ‘zulm’ gets a heavier echo when one thinks of the supposed guardians of the life and liberty of the people.The dogs of the flock. Excluding the underground and near-underground separatists there does not seem to be anyone speaking the voice of the ‘mazloom’ (oppressed).About the government nothing said the better. It used to give an impression of existence when Omar Abdullah came on the media. For quite some time he has also disappeared. On television screens old clips are played. He is repeatedly being shown wearing the sunglasses taking the mobile phone from one of his sidekicks in a manner which befits an emperor. Or shown uncapping a pen ready to sign some documents. Everything calibrated to present an image of an over busy administration when the reality is that the needles of all official clocks run to the calls of Syed Ali Shah Geelani.And the former administration is overshadowed to annihilation by the religiously observed calendars emerging from Hyderpora.

‘What next,’ therefore, loses all meaning and substance. Because ‘next’ is ‘now.’ The next moment, hour, day and week is in the ‘now.’ In order to create the real ‘next’ it is crucial the ‘now’ is dissected to see that it is nothing but a painful stasis. What Delhi is trying to do is to let the ‘now’ wear itself out or fatigue itself out to end. Then a ‘next’ would be created or it would take birth of its own. Exactly what Farooq Abdullah said to media men in Bhopal. He told the ‘nation’ that the situation was worse in 1989 than what is now. In other words suggesting his son and Delhi not to press the panic buttons. The insinuation is that let four or five people die each day or each week, time would come when people will feel tired and return to the mainstream. So long as the Unified Command meeting takes place nothing is out of the ordinary. A classic example of wearying people into submission. But how long such submission would survive where heart is not involved? Not more than a year sometimes even less than that. It has happened in the past. In the hope of restoring normalcy, Delhi and their collaborators in Srinagar and Jammu sowed seeds of more problems. And nurtured the ground for loss of more innocent lives.

That is being repeated now. The idea arises from the old feeling. That here in the meadow are a wayward flock of sheep. There is a very good way of dealing with them. That is to put some more green grass before the sheep, supplying them subsidized fodder and also put more effort on the fields with fertilizers so that the sheep remain jolly good . Let their bodies fatten and brains grow girth and weight. Meanwhile see to it that the shepherd is trained enough to guide them to new pastures and ensure he feeds them uniformly. If he does not and proves to be stubbornly disrespectful like the earlier Shepherd from Bijbehara then put him in cold storage, and send new shepherds in uniform and a well oiled shooting gun. They will see to it that their appetites remain intact for grass and fodder. Whenever problems of appetite are diagnosed then ask these new shepherds to put on threatening looks and cock their guns soon the hunger for grass, fodder and fertilizers would revive. Never allow them to look too long towards the sky. The mountain sky is dangerous for sheep. The moon is too near the eyes and the stars seem next door neighbors. They begin to dream and become unmanageable. There may come a time when some aspiration-hairs may grow on their bodies or horns may sprout on the sturdy ones, never worry about them. Those hairs would be sheared and dumped in tactically timed Dialogue (name of the instrument with which the sheep are subtly relieved of political hairs; made in India).The horns would also be cut as per the requirement. Some horns have to be kept to show the rest that only he is left behind with them. Others should be discreetly informed what happened with the rest of the horns.

So there are no political aspirations. Only desires, based on hungry stomach churnings. That is the worn out line from New Delhi; knowing well interiorly that the youth, with open sympathy from the elders, are not throwing stones for jobs but for certain definite political goals. But the lie has to be kept alive. It has to be said again and again and again. Once it dies out with that would pass away many pious things. Like alienation, mainstream and even ‘atoot ang.’ So stick ad infinitum to it, wait for the lull to come back. As it comes back sing with sighs of victory ‘how often we had told you but for the miscreants their heart is with us. They are our own people. Only a few are misleading them.’ Then an afternoon arrives in the meadow when the sky begins to burst. The stone and the slogan would resurface in one corner and spread to another. And you rehash governance and economic package. The cycle resumes. Even as the lambs fall unsung by the sides of brooks and streams in the meadow. They fall because they were ‘not properly fed’; we say they fell because the sky was closed to their eyes.

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Source: http://countercurrents.org/bhat150810.htm
URL: http://www.a-w-i-p.com/index.php/2010/08/16/kashmir-where-is-our-sky

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