Guest post byGAYATRI UGRA; photographs byJAYANT UGRA
“I travel so that people will lose track of me. Then I write, so they can find me again.”
I read these lines by Pierre Foglia, and I know nothing else about him. I do know more about why I travel: to retrace lost tracks. And why I write: not for people to find me but for me to find my own self. The last journey I made was just that. A long walk back into my past, and from there to the present in Kashmir, a living, growing, tense reality that I had to visit.
Facebook never served a better cause than ours when we planned our trip last June. On the spur of a moment of nostalgia, I posted this message on my page: “A family holiday in Kashmir. Any takers? All we need now is a travel agent and a motivator.” I could not have anticipated the response: so many of us wanted to come, hoped to come. My brother Gopal took up the task of making travel plans, reservations, bookings for accommodation, and ultimately made it happen for the eight of us that finally went. Continue reading Footprints on a Timeline: Gayatri Ugra→
Rahul Pandita’s book Our Moon Has Blood Clots must be looked at both as a personal account of suffering as well as a political project that implicitly and explicitly makes use of that suffering towards a particular end. The undertaking is a legitimate one on both counts. What the book manages to achieve on each, warrants a fair and dispassionate assessment.
His narration of events experienced by the Pandits is a welcome exposition of subjectivity around a range of traumatic events, humiliations, killings and betrayals undergone prior to and after the outbreak of mass political rebellion in Kashmir in 1989. The events thus narrated, especially the account of the personal experiences of trauma do make one strongly identify with the suffering of the families involved and agree with the wide swathes of subjective anger and hurt shared by the community. The chilling accounts of individual and mass killings and the circumstances that made them possible, call for collective self-reflection, remorse and atonement. This account also calls for serious reflection on the fragility of human associations and trust in exceptional circumstances that we normally take for granted.
The book as well as the promotional interviews around the book push the claim that not only certain militants but also many ordinary people, including those personally known to the victims, were responsible for the exodus through their acts of omission and commission. This claim is substantiated through a range of indictments based on personal encounters with individuals, shared nuggets of information, as well as the interpretation of the larger political symbolism and slogans which were seen as a deliberate attempt to intimidate Pandits, and Pandits alone. While it is difficult to deny that a number of individuals took advantage of those anarchic times to gratify personal hate and lust for loot, it makes for an overstatement to underplay the equally frequent narrative of mutual support between individuals that one gets to hear during conversations between the members of the two communities privately. Such underplay does violence to those aspects of shared memory. Continue reading Our memories come in the way of our histories: Gowhar Fazili→
It was in the month of January in 1990 that the onset of militancy in Kashmir resulted in the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits to Jammu, Delhi and elsewhere. Every year since then, January brings back the question of their return to their homes, in the press and increasingly on the internet.
Press Release issued on 28 April 2011 by the ASSOCIATION OF PARENTS OF DISAPPEARED PERSONS, led by Parvez Imroz. The APDP also staged a protest in Srinagar.
Susheel Raina, 21, son of Badrinath Raina disappeared from Chandergam, Aishmuqam in district Anantnag (Islamabad) on 4th April 2011. Susheel left his home to collect a certificate from Boys Degree College Anantnag (Islamabad) and since then never returned.
SIDDHARTHA GIGOO‘s The Garden of Solitude [Flipkart / Amazon] is the first novel in English by a Kashmiri, on Kashmir. As it starts arriving in bookstores, I am grateful to him for sharing an extract.
‘Life teaches us that there is beauty in ugliness,’ Sridar said.
Then Pamposh said something that Sridar was not prepared for.
‘Every day I lead the life of a centipede. I crawl. I lick. I hide. I sting. I wake up to the fumes of kerosene in the morning and the sting of speeding ants, feeding ravenously on the sugar spilled on the floor of the tent. It feels as if I have never had a morsel of rice for ages. I wake up hungry and go to bed hungry. I lead the life of a centipede, I crawl. All around the camp, there is stench of human excrement and waste. People wake up in the morning, hungry and muddled.
Aesop, the Hellenistic slave, narrated a profound tale in the winter of 6th century BC. The story is simple but the message remains relevant 2700 winters later. A Bee, queen of the hive, buzzed her way to Mt Olympus to present Jupiter some fresh honey. Jupiter, delighted with the offering, promised to give her whatever she wanted in return. The Bee thought for a while and then said, “Please give me a stinger, so that I can hurt whoever might come to take my honey.” Continue reading Audacity of hypocrisy: Sameer Bhat→
Apologies for taking the liberty of writing a separate post to respond to yours. I am doing so as a separate post not only because this response is rather too long for the comments space, but also because I have been wanting to address the issues you have raised. The issues are not new; I have been hearing them ad nauseaum since 2008, when the Kashmiri demand for independence from India took on a renewed momentum. In your post you bring in various external contexts – such as Rosa Luxemburg and the Sinhala-Tamil conflict. I am grateful that you do so, because it is always useful to learn from history and not repeat history’s mistakes. However, there are other recent histories of conflict and conflict resolution you don’t talk about, but which many Kashmiris are aware of – Kosovo, East Timor, Northern Ireland. Some new countries are being formed as we speak!
Also, there is history and context in Kashmir too, which you don’t go into. Your post talks more about LTTE than about Kashmir. Here, I will try to stick to Kashmir in responding to you.
To the growing voices of peace, return and reconciliation amongst young, exiled Kashmiri Pandits, Rashneek Kher has a revealing response:
I have neither been a votary nor a detractor of the idea or concept of Panun Kashmir but truth be told I have always found it as a perfect counterweight to the secessionists policy of Azad Kashmir. Continue reading Kitnay Kashmir→