I am a citizen of Conflict
By Fahad Shah
I am a citizen of Conflict. I am born in a place which was once with Afghan’s than Sikhs and Dogra’s. Then its fate was finally forced to join silver chains of a country which claims to be a largest democracy of world.
I believe nations are build they are not constructed by joining others. I am from the generation which took birth amid blasts, bullets and within the world’s most militarized zone, Kashmir which have around seven lakh Indian troops. Jammu and Kashmir was once an independent country. I have seen fear. I have lived deadly times which took away some best moments of my life. I saw my childhood swallowed by army crackdowns. I have been forced to wait for hours in a bus or car just because vehicles of state forces which they say are here to protect civilians have to move first. I have been humiliated several times when I put my hand in my pocket and found I have forgotten my identity card at home. I have seen my mother pleading before an army officer to allow my brother to reach examination centre during crackdown. This unfortunate vale has lost thousands of people who were at wrong place at wrong time. I am a common Kashur.
All this never remained limited to Valley only. One day I received call from a friend in New Delhi whose spoken words were expressing a fusion of worry and anger. He said that he has failed to prove his human identity as he couldn’t get any flat or room on rent in Delhi. His sin was just that he belong to this blood drenched Valley.
We all know it needs hands to carve a pot from mud. But neither Kashmir is mud nor we want any pot but hands have been always upon it. Death has always knocked at its every house. No one here believes in peace of mind, trauma is occupying minds and souls. Everybody here make friends with darkness as light can make them caught by jackboots. Thanks to AFSPA, PSA and others which ask no question before you will be latched.
One day I was travelling in an auto rickshaw from home to city centre Lal Chowk. Auto driver was talking in a very low audible voice. I told him I can’t hear you. His reply shook my body from head to toe as he begins. His unfortunate fate had hit his neck and left him bedridden for six months. “I was hit by a bullet in neck. I lost my voice completely for six months,” he said, continuing, “it’s only after my family borrowed money from several people for treatment that at least I am able to speak today, though in a low voice.”
I felt like something held my heart when in a low dejected voice he whispered, “I earn on this auto to pay back the money which my family borrowed for my treatment.” This has been the life of many people here in Valley. As I say about it, “In Kashmir survival is freedom and freedom is struggle.”
This year on June 11, a 17-year-old school boy Tufail Ahmad Matto was killed by a “fire arm injury” caused by an “Intermediate Range Rifled Weapon” which hit him on head leaving his brain damaged and he died on spot. Protests which reached to such a height that central government sent a team of cabinet ministers. One hundred eleven killings, thousands injured and many disabled is current Kashmir after a four month long ‘Quit Jammu Kashmir Movement’ led by separatist leaders. In response to it the most strict curfews, crackdowns to nab stone pelters, some army flag marches has been the activities of government.
My citizenship of Conflict is valid forever. Though, it may expire when the bells of Kashmir solution will tinkle. Sometimes I think. In Kashmir, hope is the only excuse… … …