JK Bank

In the afternoon of 14 February 2019, a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden Eeco car into a CRPF vehicle, part of a convoy, on Jammu-Srinagar National highway, in which at least 42 Indian paramilitary troopers were killed. The purported suicide bomber, Aadil Ahmad Dar, a local southerner from the Valley’s Gundibagh village of Pulwama district, lived a few kilometers away from the blast site.

Soon, the media around the country exclaimed the utmost need for revenge, propagated via slug: #PulwamaAttack.

In the immediate aftermath, reports of targeted violence against Kashmiri students and business people—habited outside Valley—by the right-wing groups from across the country emerged.

Liberals surfaced on social media platforms and condemned such attacks. Soon, the plea fell in the political corridors and the systematic politicization of the issue started.

But, amid the chaos, Kashmiris running back to Valley, prioritizing life over their education; many seem to forget that it is not for the first time that Kashmiris were being targeted outside Valley. Whether its India-Pakistan cricket match or the political tension between the two nuclear warhead neighbors, the innocent Kashmiris have a perpetual history for being prey in the name of vengeance and remains to be at the receiving end of the toxic ultra-nationalism of Hindu-nationalists.

Such incidents of alienation of Kashmiris in other states is a self-defining act that portrays them as non-natives. Breaking it to basic: In an incident at Chandigarh Group of Colleges, Jhanjeri, located in the outskirts of Chandigarh, with more than 800 Kashmiri students studying in the campus, in the middle of the day, its director and principle, Rajesh Talwar, took out a march protest—within the campus—flaring the tricolor, followed by hundreds of students chanting rhetoric slogans like “Desh ke gaddaro ko, goli maaro saalo ko” (shoot these anti-national Kashmiri).

About 170 kilometers away from the capital of Punjab (shared with Haryana), in another state capital of India, Dehradun, a supercharged emotional atmosphere post-attack led many owners of numerous flats to bar students from the rented accommodations saying “the mob may vandalize their residence.”

These two above mentioned incidents only represent the tip of a large iceberg; how easy it was for the fellow-countrymen to push out the representatives of, as they claim, an integral part of their country.

If we compare this demeanor within the context of Kashmir, Kashmiris have never targeted tourists; that too, when an entire generation has been brought up amid the smell of the gunpowder, feeling of vengeance as they shoulder the coffins on the daily basis.

Flaunting the placards on their shop-fronts in Uttrakhand, which read, ‘Dogs are allowed but not Kashmiris’, and the hotels in the city of Agra, hosting the ‘Wonder of World’, Taj Mahal, read, ‘KASHMIRIS ARE NOT ALLOWED HARE  TO STAY’, only punctuated the vulnerability faced by Kashmiris.

What was left in the broth was completed by the last cook—the national media. Beating the drums of war and revenge—inciting people for acrimony—the TRP made its way in, while Kashmiris walked back to Valley.

Though soon Indian Air Force and its counter-part engaged in a dogfight, and the aerial emergency were declared in north India, as well as, Pakistan. Adding to the misery, the only way to Valley was blocked citing the fresh landslides.

The Valley was landlocked, again. But, tourists, not used to being landlocked, cried. Amid the falling night, Kashmiris came to the rescue of stranded tourists; hotels in Srinagar provided their contact numbers on social media platforms informing stuck tourists to check-in for free accommodation and food, in case if they are stranded.

Whatever is the situation in Kashmir, the Kashmiris have never indulged in antagonism against civilians. Period. Such ‘not-so-Indian’ acts by Kashmiris have safeguarded outsiders in Valley.

There is no time to ponder about who is a Kashmiri; a ‘Kashmiri’ sometimes find him/herself as an integral part (atooth angh), while a jugular vein (shah ragh) the other time. Apparently, by forcing every angh to be an atooth one, all of anghs have fallen apart. Kashmiris is susceptible to any persecution whenever and wherever, while the contra knowing, no one would question them.

Eventually, we don’t need to dive in a decade long history, just a few pages from 1947 to discern where a Kashmiri stands?

Marila Latif is a News Anchor at The Kashmir Walla, who hosts The Daily Bulletin.

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