What Pinched Him?

It is raining. I am warm and cosy in my bed. A cup of coffee and some books add to the pleasure. And I guess everyone using Facebook now is equally cosy and at ease.
But some people aren’t. Some people are being thrown out or beaten just because of their identity. And the fact that something happened in their area, in their they had no say whatsoever.

Even they aren’t the reason for my post this time. The reason is the constant revenge posts in my feed. My six years of NCR gave me a lot of friends who proudly call themselves Indian. I am glad to have them. But after the Pulwama attack everyone, almost everyone is posting solitary with the soldiers and how they want revenge. From Pakistan and from Kashmir.

The 45 soldiers who lost their lives might not have deserved this. But did anyone step back for a moment to consider why a 20 year old youth would want to blow himself up? He wasn’t raised in the so called Afghanistan and told killing people will bring him to Jannah. He was raised in a village in Kashmir where I am pretty sure he was told, and it was emphasised that suicide is one of the gravest sins. That once committed, the doors of jannah are shut for him. That this suicide results in eternal hell.
Then why? Why would a person having his life ahead of him take such a step?
Why wouldn’t he consider the fate of his family after he is gone? Didn’t he know how families of militants are treated? Didn’t he know that even if PM wouldn’t say anything, army would avenge itself? Would at the minimum burn his house down. Beat all the Male members up and harass them at every opportunity? In a fit of rage, his mother and sister could be raped?

Or was it because he had had so much of this pain and trauma that he couldn’t hold back?

After all, does it not need immense strength on part of a person to just blow himself up? How many of us can survive that thought without tearing up? How many of us can could the time, the seconds till our death? And then cause our own death too? How many?

Or was it that he was already so dead inside that no heaven or hell mattered to him anymore? That he had seen enough to blow up not just himself but 40 other people too?

If he was so traumatised didn’t he know the families of these people would be in pain too? What had happened that rendered him numb to everyone’s pain? Tears?

Did anyone think, or ask for his story before asking for revenge? Did anyone even care to seek out the wounds inflicted on him? The reason that he drove to his own death?

Tormentor

I sit with him, Ah! the pleasure
His eyes, the way he smiles
chiseled biceps!

He asks, I speak
The trauma at my heart
What is it that keeps poking me

I speak of red,
The spilled colour
The bundle of joy dead on a street

I speak of a bed
Devoid of rest
Haunted by nightmares

I speak of rooms;
Painful, brutal sounds
Electrocution

I speak, unaware
the words incoherent
the ache, constant….

My tormentor, moved to tears
I, unphased, numb
unaffected

Call to Freedom!

FotorCreated-9I have seen dreams die
Youth crying, panicked
“I cannot see a thing
What happened to my eye”

I have seen sleep stab
Flashes, nightmares
Face in palms, crying
“Where did my peace go”

I have seen mournful weddings
No songs of joy being sung
Groom was shot on the way
“Where did his promise go”

I have heard kids wonder
“Everyone comes with parents
I go alone, with my mother
Where did my father go”

I have seen women
Half widows
Not even a grave to cry
“Where did my husband go”

I hear a mother lament
“He was all I had
Peace to my heart, light to my eyes
Where did my son go!”

I see a procession, a funeral
children mourning
I hear people sloganeering
“Azaadi, Azaadi, Azaadi, Azaadi!”

 

He is a Human Too!

tufail-mattoo3

Talking of home, peace
the beauty of my place
the calm,
Paradise

We somehow reach conflict
the tug-of-war
nobody ready to give in
the dilemma of rope!

I narrate how, every year
we lose sons to bullets
how, abruptly
our streets are painted red

How, out of blues
a pellet hits your eye
How, in an instant
the world turns black!

I explain the mass graves
AFSPA, PSA
Tufail, Zahid, Wamiq Farooq
their graves asking for crimes

Fake encounters, promotions
disappearances
Half-widows, orphans, posthumous
Machil!

Crackdowns, rapes, torture
Papa II, Mama II
Bullets, pellets
Teargas shells!

He asks, “Why are you silent
how can you bear someone
barging doors
killing beloved

Why don’t you retaliate
fight back
serve them as deserved
An eye for an eye!

How could talks help
why yearn for justice
why empty handed
missing rifle…

How could you just sit around
mumb over blood bath
does your blood not boil
Are you so weak at heart?”

How could I explain
I have closely seen pain, death
and when I kill
does his family not die like mine?

Come Over

 

Look at the war, the turmoil
The way it affects you
A future awaits
Come over

What are you holding onto
Fear? Trauma
A bullet with your name on it?
Come over!

Tranquility awaits you
The grass is greener
Paradise,
Come over

I wondered if it was true
Far away, in exile
And yet paradise
The insistence, come over

Why quit for peace
And justice?
who would ensure that?
Bring back the golden days, come over

I stay back
Work, where others quit
Ensuring justice, brick by brick
I act rather than being a spectator
I won’t come over!

Painted in Red

They all sat together in a single room. Pin drop silence. All that could be heard was the sound of T.V. A news reporter was reading out the latest developments in the area. Developments not in the form of infrastructure or education but of situation. Of a situation that had led them to be locked up in their homes. Curfew. It had been a week that they had been locked up in their homes. First internet services were snapped and gradually all kinds of connectivity. One could not even know how a person was. No news source other than the national television. Indian television.

The issue with being dependent on Indian media was their non-reliability. They would never showcase the truth. They did cover the militant army encounters. They rejoiced on militant deaths. They showed their disapproval of people joining funeral of militants. But they never digged down to understand why an 18 year old would shun his studies and take up arms. They showed the angry mobs protesting on streets but could never gather the courage to bring forth the reason for their anger and anguish.

But right now they did not really have an option. They had no other source. The unrest was triggered by an encounter. And people had poured in thousands on streets for his funeral. Along with the prayers there was one thing that reverberated in the air that day. “Hum kya chahte? Azaadi!” This word, “Azaadi”, had compelled the forces to disperse the procession. Means used? Tear gas shells, pellets, rubber and even live bullets. That day a dozen more boys were killed. And hundreds others injured.

Tear gas shells are frequently used for mob dispersal. The proper usage? To be shot at an upward or downward angle of 45 degrees. But in this part of the world, tear gas shells were shot at 90 degrees. Right above the waist.  As if they were aiming it at people so as to cause injury and panic. More than tears by a gas, a mob can be dispersed by the realisation that a participant is hit by a canister and needs medical attention. From protests their attention gets diverted to calling an ambulance or arranging a vehicle and driving the person to care and safety. Similarly pellet guns are classified as non-lethal. On being shot they shoot out small balls ranging from 300-30. In most parts of the world they merely shoot 30 pellets at a time. But we live in an exception. 300 pellets are released from one shot and they are not as non-lethal as claimed by the security agents and the governing bodies.

Pellet guns did not merely cause death. In majority of the cases it caused something graver. It caused the death of dreams and hopes. Ideally they should have been shot below waist area. Instead every injured person with pellets was hit above waist. Most of them hit in head and eyes. Some wounds recoverable, others not so. The worst sorts of injuries were in eyes. And even worse the news that they had lost eye sight.

What was moving was an interview of a journalist with one similar patient. He had been operated upon but recovery of his eyesight was unachievable. When he was asked about his dreams, he said, “ Earlier I had but now everything is black. Nothing is left.” And tears had started gushing out of his eyes. Gloom. It was not merely the loss of eyesight. It was not merely a genocide. It was not a mere mob dispersing technique. It was intentional breaking of dreams, lives and souls. How could a democracy do this to its own people (and an integral part)?

The answer was more political than human. A solution which no one was ready to implement. Egos’ and personal motives stood higher than humanity. And the streets of Kashmir were forever painted red.

 

Pained

Oh! Look my son is back home
Did I not say he would come?
He loves me more than anyone else
How could he abandon.

Come my son, you must be hungry
Toiling through the day, thirsty
Let me serve you some food to eat
Drink some water, thirst’s defeat

But why are you so silent today
Has it been too hectic day
Did you not enjoy the stuff
Or was all the work a handcuff

Look, we have many guests too
Everybody came in to see you
Won’t you talk to them even?
Would you be that rude?

Someone suddenly said, “Let go off him, sister
He was hit by a canister
His soul departed that moment
He will reside in Jannah, be content”

She replied in an angry voice
He is with me, my rejoice
And how dare you call him dead,
Don’t touch him, he’s my blood

He would not go anywhere
Like this he can’t leave me in despair
He promised he would stay by me
Then how can his early his soul flee?

Of Here and There

Apart from the stark contrast of culture and lack of mountains, one thing was very apparent at the new place. Wherever you look, however far you try to search there is no army man standing with  a loaded gun. This seemed so abnormal. Back home an army man could be found every 100 metres or even less but here…  She was clueless as to why. That was the first time she realised her homeland was a conflict zone. And that it was captive and yearning. All the people had a single dream. Freedom!

Adjusting to Indian society and culture was difficult. People usually asked very difficult and strange questions. Is it safe there? Have you seen terrorists? Does it blast every day? And they go on and on. That was when she knew the partial news coverage Indian media provided. For them it was merely a piece of land. For her? Kashmir! It was difficult to give them answers and bring forth the reality of Kashmir. Not because of the complexity of the conflict but because of the adamant nature of her questioners. They knew only one thing. “Mera Bharat Mahaan”. And they would not listen to a word spoken against India. Or to something that would paint India in bad light. They could not bring themselves to think or realise that India could be wrong and atrocious too.

Amongst all this a news took everyone like a storm. A guy had turned a militant and was now attacking army convoys. Army and CRPF were being attacked. It seemed as if armed struggle had started afresh. Following the news of blasts and killings she came to know about the person doing all this. (A name that means “bearer of good news”). This person claimed responsibility of all the recent attacks on the Indian army and forces. He also sent a strong message to counterparts in India, “We will earn our freedom soon.”

(the name). It was stuck in her mind. She could not understand why. Later, videos and pictures of the guy, who was by now being hailed as a hero, emerged. And she got her answer. She knew this guy. Not only did she recognise him, she even had memories of him.

She vividly remembered the smile that was always on display on (his name)’s face. How he displayed empathy with everyone. His kindness was an example in the whole school. Even teachers adored him and said the level of humanity he had was exceptional. He could not harm even a fly. Today the same guy was hurling grenades at humans. Unimaginable.

(his name) had lost his father very early in his life. Bought up by his mother alone, he knew her hardships and made sure he caused her no additional headaches. He was the calmest child of his age. His siblings were an elder sister who helped run the household with her mother and a twin. He always thought he was bestowed with the best mother and sister anyone could have. And his twin was like his own shadow. Inseparable.

It was late November. The sky was dark with black clouds and light was low even during the day. It had been snowing all night and it seemed to continue the whole day. Despite being the first snow of the season there was a strange lull in the atmosphere. As if something was utterly wrong somewhere and yet nothing could be done.  That day his brother was untraceable. He searched whole of their place but he was nowhere to be seen. Mother told him that he had moved out to buy some snacks. The nearest shop was a mile away. So (his name) started walking towards the shop. All the way long streets were strangely desolate. And the army numbers were higher than usual. Sensing trouble, he hurried. As he reached the shop, he met a strange sight. The snow was no more white. It was red. Even snow had withdrawn support. On the molten red part of the snow lay his brother. Shot dead.

For months together he did not talk to anyone. Neither did he attend school. He could hardly sleep. And when he did, he woke up shouting and crying. Doctors said he was suffering from PTSD. PTSD is not so uncommon in Kashmir. Almost half of the population suffers from it. Almost everyone has seen dead bodies, heard gun shots and grenades go off. People have dreams of identification parades and gun shots. And who held those killer guns? Army.

For a long time (his name) was depressed and could not resume his daily life. Probably he could not accept the loss. How could anyone ever anticipate losing a twin. It was after a year that he could finally face the reality and resume his life. It was difficult but he did all he could. Sometimes he would break down in middle of activities. Sometimes in midst of a crowd. That seemed to be the most difficult part of his life. Only if we knew better.

It was his higher secondary school exams. The ones parents say are the way to an easy life (the most common lie though). He had studied hard and thought he could ace the exams. It was the physics exam day. He was glad for he had attempted whole of the paper satisfactorily. But as he reached home that day, a new pain was awaiting him. In his absence some army men had entered their home forcibly and tried to impose themselves on the ladies. When the ladies did not yield they took them along with. Later, their bodies were found in a nearby brook. Both of them dead.

Rapes, forced disappearances and deaths were not new to Kashmir. But when this all happens to someone first hand it is difficult to bear. That day he felt helpless. His brother had not been given justice. And when he wanted justice for his mother and sister, he was met with same fate. Post-mortem reports were altered. Rules were bent. And the killers were given a free passage along with a transfer. Justice was murdered once again. Again, like all those years when 100’s of youth were killed and no one was held responsible.

The day he realised he could not get justice in the Indian legal system did he make up his mind. He wanted to avenge the deaths. Not just of his family but of Kashmir. Of the 1000’s of martyrs who laid their lives to free it from the occupation. That day he disappeared.

She could still remember the day like it had happened yesterday. (his name) had not appeared in any other exam. Nor could anyone get him to talk or do anything. It was the onset of depression. And this later led to his disappearance. Some said he killed himself in grief. Others said he crossed over the border. But no one did anything. Moot spectators.

It had been a year since his disappearance. He had returned as suddenly as he had disappeared. His eyes still spoke of the ordeal he had met. His pain had not died away. Time did not heal his wounds. Incurable.

Yet, whenever she had conversation with her Indian class fellows they held him wrong. He was labelled a terrorist even without hearing his side of the story. News anchors shouted to establish their point. People started discussing him on national television. But they never knew what provoked him. She wanted to ask them how they would feel if their brother was out to fetch snacks and was shot at without any fault. Was it some play? Was he a wax model? A target to practice upon? She wanted to ask them if they had ever reached home and found that some army men had misbehaved with their mother and later killed her? Would they still worship their country, their army as they do now?

Her staunch Indian fellows were blindfolded by the media and their national chauvinist mentality. The truth never reached them. She wanted to tell them his truth. But then are Kashmiri students studying outside the state not killed and labelled terrorists or lodged in jails for no fault? Or even worse, they sometimes merely disappear. And quiet she kept.

 

Misdeeds

A moment, decision, fire shot
A hole, shock, blood spill

Tears, moans, nightmares
Scalpels, doctors, injectables

Critical, ventilator, death bed
Roses, almonds, farewell

Outcries, protests, condemnation
Clarification, justification, a rebel

Inquiry, a panel, delayed report
Corruption, variation, justice sold

Sit-ins, marches, court cases
Consolation, cash, injustice

Defaulters free, no penalty
Genocide, and bravery

Azaadi

freedom_of_speech

 

A protest. A ruckus. A new trending news. An uproar against. An arrest!

All these events followed only a basic fact – death anniversary of a convict. An alleged terrorist who tried to blow up parliament of democracy. Anti-nationalist. And a little mass of a university gathered to pay their tributes to the terrorist guy. They speak in his favour, call the judgement a judicial killing, taint the hands of leaders and judges red with his blood. Call the convict a martyr. And what do they ask for in these protests? Azaadi!

Following this protest whole of the nation goes up in arms against the students and the university.
“How come university approved such an event?”
“And how dare people call for Azaadi and remember a terrorist? ”
“All these are traitors. Only worth throwing out of the country. Send them to Pakistan, or Afghanistan or anywhere.”
“They should be charged with sedition and tried under anti-terrorist laws.”

The whole nation united against these few voices. Deeming them unfit for the country and a waste of resources. They were misusing the freedom of speech and the democratic nature of nation. Bloody  *************!

Eventually the uproar of people due to constant telecast of the event by news channels led to arrest of the student union leader. And the telecast was definitely not neutral. It was laden with all kinds of hate speech a person speaking as VJ can. Influencing people’s mind to what they desire. Sedition charges were levied upon the student. Was the nation satisfied now?

In all this chaos and confusion, uproar and call for shutting down the university people forgot to do their homework. They simply relied on what the news anchors and social media fed them with. Their own knowledge of the incident was almost nil! Oh, isn’t media there to educate us only? Well maybe! But all the country’s media cared about was their TRP. They didn’t mind blowing a news out of proportion or speaking to influence because their primary concern was their TRP not truth.

Nobody asked the student body why they had held the event. Or why they were supporting a convict who has been hanged three years earlier. Nobody bothered to know their side of the story. Because the society believes in being with the flow. Go where the crowd is going and mimic them.

The students had decided to hold the protest in their sane mental states. All they wanted to project was the real nature of conviction of the aforementioned. All the evidence presented was circumstantial. And even the judgement mentioned that the conviction is taking place for collective conscience of society. Did any member of the society read the judgement before declaring Afzal Guru a terrorist? (You don’t even need to file an RTI. The judgement is easily available all over internet!)

When the students called for Azaadi they did not mean to draw a new line of international border. They wanted the country and the world to recognise Kashmir as a conflict. They wanted the world’s largest democracy to end the human rights violation that happens there day and night. They want Azaadi from AFSPA, from PSA and from all other draconian laws that permit army to kill anyone anywhere without being held accountable for it.

The meaning of Azaadi is not bound to borders only. Kashmir wants Azaadi from army men beating a 3-year old to death and then roaming free without any conviction. Kashmir wants Azaadi from army shooting a 16-year old while playing in the park and never being held accountable. Kashmir wants Azaadi from army entering a village and raping all its women, then stubbornly  denying all the charges.

Kashmir is fed up of politics and false promises, of all the hypocritic people calling Kashmir an integral part but never  raising their voices for the atrocities done there. People of the world or of the country have done nothing to make them their own. Not a soul from civil society raised his voice of concern when mass graves were found in Kashmir or when army men were found guilty of fake encounters. Why did they all not raise their voice against the violation of rights then? Was Kashmir not an integral part then? Were people living there not humans? No one has any right to call Kashmir their own. Kashmir wants to be Azaad!

And for all those whose pride takes a dip in admitting Kashmir as a conflict zone, switch off that idiot box, move over your prejudice, and read about Kashmir.

“Kashmir Ki Azaadi Tak Jung Rahegi!”