Arundhati Roy on the freedom struggle in Kashmir:
To expect matters to end there was of course absurd. Hadn’t anybody noticed that in Kashmir even minor protests about civic issues like water and electricity inevitably turned into demands for azadi? To threaten them with mass starvation amounted to committing political suicide.
Not surprisingly, the voice that the Government of India has tried so hard to silence in Kashmir has massed into a deafening roar. Hundreds of thousands of unarmed people have come out to reclaim their cities, their streets and mohallas. They have simply overwhelmed the heavily armed security forces by their sheer numbers, and with a remarkable display of raw courage.
Raised in a playground of army camps, checkposts and bunkers, with screams from torture chambers for a soundtrack, the young generation has suddenly discovered the power of mass protest, and above all, the dignity of being able to straighten their shoulders and speak for themselves, represent themselves. For them it is nothing short of an epiphany. They’re in full flow, not even the fear of death seems to hold them back.
And once that fear has gone, of what use is the largest or second-largest army in the world? What threat does it hold? Who should know that better than the people of India who won their independence in the way that they did? [Outlook]
Anniversaries are good opportunities for reflection. I write this in the early hours of 15th August, 2008, the 61st anniversary of Indian independence.
The events of the past few months, and the past few days, in the Indian administered state of Jammu and Kashmir have demonstrated how well and how equally (or not) the police, paramilitaries and armed forces of the Indian Republic treat different kinds of protesting crowds. The facts that I am about to discuss are good measures with which to think about the relationship between acts of power, different kinds of people, sovereignty, life and death in the Indian nation state as it has evolved over the past 61 years.
The region of Jammu in the province of Jammu and Kashmir has been caught in the grip of a fierce agitation against the revocation of the land transfer to the Amarnath Shrine Board. We have all seen footage of angry SASS (Shri Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti) activists brandishing trishuls, setting up roadblocks and burning tyres, the agitation has spread to different parts of India
Continue reading Gun Salutes for August 15, 2008
Five years ago, in an article called “Srinagar, Four Years Later,” Suvir Kaul wrote:
A Ram Mandir is being built at the site of the ancient sun temple at Martand (Mattan). This is not simply an addition to what is already there – it is a deliberate refashioning of Kashmiri Hindu worship to obey the dictates of Hindutva practice. But worst of all are the excessive displays put on ostensibly for the benefit of the Amarnath yatris, but which actually function as a warning to local Kashmiris: all along the route past Pahalgam, and to some extent on the Baltal route, banners and wall-slogans sponsored by the CRPF and the BSF (and occasionally, the Jammu and Kashmir police) welcome the yatris. These units also make available tea and snacks, and announce them as prasad. There is no constitutional separation of temple and state to be found here – the yatris, and those who guard them, are equally, and aggressively, Hindu. [Link]