I do not think ordinary Indians support the brutality of army occupation in Kashmir. Despite what the Indian state says, and despite what the Indian army and CRPF are doing, I honestly do not believe that any ordinary Indian supports the torture of young men, the blinding of people attending a funeral, the rape of women, the killings and maiming and abuse and humiliation that are now a routinized fact of daily life in the Kashmir valley. To believe that ordinary Indians enjoy watching this spectacle of violence, that ordinary Indians take pleasure in the torture of children, would be to think India is now a country comprised of sadistic psychopaths. I honestly do not think ordinary Indians are psychopaths. I do think, however, that ordinary Indians, and I count myself amongst them, have somehow managed, till now, to keep some distance between what is happening in Kashmir and the idea of India as a whole. After all, India is a large and complex country, a huge and diverse society. Everything that happens in Kashmir, the brutality of the army and the security forces, cannot signify the whole truth of India we tell ourselves. It seems somehow unfair to us ordinary Indians that what happens in Kashmir reflects on us all.
It was the year 2013; I took an auto-rickshaw from Dal Gate to Shankaracharya temple. As the auto-rickshaw took a right from the Boulevard towards the road that goes to the temple it was halted by a long queue of vehicles, mostly cars. I could see a security-check post from the distance, men in uniform grilling the drivers and their automobiles with the same thirst. You have to clear it before you pay visit to the deity. In Kashmir, these security-checks posts are just like traffic signals we habitually obey and cross in Delhi or in any other city, every day, every few kilometres. As I got off from the auto to take some fresh air a faujee approached me. He inquired from where I was coming, a very friendly tone in his voice. I was not new to these security-checks. I am half-Kashmiri, half-Punjabi, half-Sikh, half-Indian, half-Pakistani, half- refugee, and many others halves I could never put together to give a name to. He was visibly happy to see an ‘Indian’ in the land of ‘terrorists’, probably mistaken by my Punjabi/Sikh appearance. I’m more Kashmiri than a Punjabi though. If it were 1980’s or 1990’s the approach would have been different. Punjabis, mostly Sikhs, were terrorists those days. There are few other adjectives he used for Kashmiris I would like to skip. I instantly gathered all my Indian-ness and replied in an equally friendly-Indian tone to his friendly-Indian questions. It was a casual chat. Then, he went to the auto-driver in his role as a uniformed Indian in a ‘conflict-zone’; spoke to him in a dialect ‘only Kashmiris understand’, gave a green signal and in few minutes our middle-class auto-rickshaw bypassed all the expensive cars with JK number at the rear. Continue reading The Outsiders: Jagjit Pal Singh→
This is the second of a series of fact-finding reports on the recent violence in Kashmir. The fact-finding has been conducted independently by a team ofBELA BHATIA,VRINDA GROVER,SUKUMAR MURALIDHARANandRAVI HEMADRI. For an introduction to this series, see here, and also see the first report.