Guest post by SANJAY KAK
Last week was my Abu Talha moment. That’s when dubious honours rain on you, unsolicited, undeserved. There I was, charged with wrecking a literary festival in Kashmir; links to the Parliament attack case; racism against Kashmiri pandits; scuttling a film screening in a women’s college in Delhi… And if that doesn’t create a frisson, I was also said to be on the radar of Mumbai’s Anti Terrorist Squad.
Unable to make the Abu Talha connection? Many in Kashmir know the name as a talisman, the kind that security forces brandish when they periodically feel its time to square their books. It doesn’t take much; they just have to produce a fresh corpse before a pliant media, although one with long hair and a beard, fatigues and an AK47, does make things easier. As Abu Talha, this all-purpose corpse can then be held responsible for fidayeen attacks, the murder of innocent civilians, the assassination of political workers, massacres, and explosions, whatever. Crucially, even as Abu Talha is lowered into the ground, all further investigations into those events can be safely laid to rest.
End of story: tamam shudh? Well, only sort of. Because Abu Talha will be called upon to perform again, dusted up and presented afresh to the world. Again. He’s not alone, for with so much happening in Kashmir, Abu Talha is part of a frequent fighters club: Abu Hamza, Abu Shakir, Abu Waqas, Ghazi Baba… The other day a friend from Kashmir invented one to cheer me up: Abu Tamam, he offered, Father of it All.