Freedom is what we had fought for all those years. Freedom is what they are fighting for. Freedom is what all of us live for. And freedom is what we are going to celebrate the coming Independence Day. But how meaningful is that celebration going to be? Not too meaningful and quite meaningless, I would say. One section of Homo sapiens might tag me anti national! But has the word ‘nationalism’ ever been clearly defined? Does the love for your motherland mean not to love those who don’t love her all the same? Does that not make humanism and nationalism two contrasting terms?
I was borne and brought up in a Hindu family. I don’t mention my religion in any one of the application forms I fill up, given that the option isn’t mandatory. I have to believe in the Hindu faith because it has been injected into my veins for eternity. But when one asks what my religion is, ‘humanism’ is what I say. And when they ask what is it that I live for, ‘FREEDOM!’ I say.
The words, ‘extremism’, ‘intolerance’, ‘antinationalism’, have been looming large over the Indian subcontinent for quite a while now. Extremism is nothing new as a term. All of us should have come across this word while going through the pages of our freedom struggle, right from the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 to the Indian Independence of 1947. Remember the Surat Split of 1907, where the Indian National Congress was divided into two sections- the moderates and the extremists? The British Government, as we all know, had abhorred the extremists to the core of its soul. But today we pompously celebrate their birthdays and mourn on their death anniversaries. This is because of their contribution to our struggle for freedom. And today we are INDEPENDENT! How lucky we are!
Now try to put your feet into a Kashmiri’s khussas. Why won’t they mourn the death of someone who had dared to sing the song of their azaadi? If Chandra Shekhar Azad could have taken up a bandook to fight against those under whose rule the Indians had refused to live, why could Wani not? Ask yourself. Imagine yourself in their situation. Imagine army men breaking into your house every now and then. Imagine yourself being beaten up by an army man just because he suspected that you are a terrorist. Imagine!
‘Azaadi’ is what they have been asking for all those years, bullets are what they received in return. But what sort of ‘azaadi’ do they want? Have we ever asked them? Have we ever asked ourselves? Probably, not! I’ve never been to Kashmir, to be honest, and neither would I be able to narrate the jowar of pain that they have concealed within their hearts for ages. But what I believe, all that they want is ‘azaadi’ from the bullets, the bombs, the tankers and bunkers, curfews- all that do not form a part of the normal life. All that they want is to live a normal life. The children would go to schools like our children do, they would play in the playground- kabaddi, cricket, football and hu tu tu! They would visit the mela, buy candies and mitti ke gudda-gudiya. Their mothers, who would accompany them, would adorn themselves with kaanch ke chudiya. As their fathers would return home after a day of hard work, together they would have their dinner, brush their teeth and go to bed.
But the mela has been burnt down, gudda-gudiya smashed into dirt and kanch kichudiya broken down into millions of pieces! Our very dear neighbour, Pakistan, is hungry for something India endears. Just like another candy-fight between two toddlers. This shows how diplomatic relations between the two nations have failed ever since the days of their creation.
Pakistan is already suffering from a serious visceral infection, which she is finding hard to cure. Democracy has failed miserably in the nation. Terrorism has metastasized like a horrible cancer throughout mind, body and soul. This terrorism has been trying to cross the borders and infect the neighbour. To an extent, it has met with success, no doubt! What came as a cure was a bunch of bunkers, tankers and thousands of army men. Who is suffering from, first, the infection and second, the cure itself? Kashmir! And what does the very responsible doctor does? Inject more panaceas into the already bleeding veins. Who cares? No one! Who wins? Ego!
So what’s the solution? Very difficult to answer! Can we let Kashmir free? Yes, we can! But that would, most probably, be of no use. The infected predator, starved for ages, will grab its prey in no time. And this would mean maut, death, the last breath!
AFSPA, directly or indirectly, is slow poisoning Kashmir, stimulating her children to take up arms. How about a bunch of army men patrolling inside your home, sweet home, day in and day out? Not a very good idea to think of, isn’t it? Yes, the same is true for Kashmir. The Indian Army, no doubt, have protected us during hours of despair and catastrophe. All our love and salutes to them! But AFSPA has, most the times, been misused. The people meant to be protected have suffered. Take Manipur, for example! When the cures isn’t curing any more, change the medicine or stop it for once and see how the patient’s body react! AFSPA needs to be gradually lifted from the region, for the medicine is already turning into a deadly poison.
When we cage a bird, the bird has three options in its wings- give up and stay in the cage for all its lifetime, break open the cage and embrace the sky or sulk, protest, get shot at and pass away. The haseen wadiya is already turning into a graveyard, Jhelum is no more pure and sacred, but blood red, shikaras no more swarm like swans of heaven, the paradise is no more a paradise. The paradise is lost!
Dearest India and my dear Pakistan, let our Kashmir breath, let her dance round the fire in the cold, snowy evenings, let her sing, let her sleep peacefully draped in pashmina. Let Kashmir live!