Me, You & Kashmir’s Curfew

Tarushi Aswani for Times
“Agar Firdaus bar rōy-e zamin ast, hamin ast-o hamin ast-o hamin ast.”

This Persian couplet has been composed by Hazrat Amir Khusrau and translates as If there is a paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.

It is also mentioned that when Jahangir was asked on his death bed about his cherished desire he is credited to have said, “I see Kashmir, the rest is worthless.”

Having mentioned the above couplets that credit Kashmir for its boundless beauty, it makes me even more firm on my instinct that when Hazrat Amir Khusrau and Jahangir cherished the magnificent beauty of Kashmir, they never meant those scenarios where Shalimar Bagh was layered with AFSPA personnel or when Lal Chowk became lifeless with curfew and the echo of gunshots shook window panes.

Once my seven year old cousin pointed out to me a breathtaking photograph of Dal Lake featured in the “Must-Visit” Section of a travel magazine. Apparently she asked me about how to get to this place which appeared of similarity to her because “Frozen”(the movie) featured such a lake.

Surprisingly, her mother hushed her and told her how this place was not to be visited and it was “really unsafe”.

Drawing from the rhetoric, what makes Kashmir unsafe?

Is it Babar Majeed, who owns a carpet shop at Badshah Chowk, who strives day and night to feed his family of 6, being the sole bread winner? Is it Kaifi Alamgir who picks twigs and skillfully weaves a handsome kagri out of the dried branches? Or is it those who cloak themselves as saviors but the only thing that shimmers in their eyes is the geopolitical value of Kashmir as a region?

Minors being thrashed by Indian Army Personnel, pellet guns being shot blindly only to blind those whose eyes are as innocent as their hearts.

Youth, women and children being detained for holding peaceful protests, young men being picked up at twilight from their homes, never returning and yet again it is asked that what makes Kashmir vulnerable to violence.

Is there an answer to when those young abducted boys will return? Is there an answer to why Insha Malik, a 14-year-old Kashmiri girl was blinded by pellet guns when she peeked out of her window to look at the city, her city!

Is there an answer to why our Indian brothers and sisters in Kashmir are under curfew since 36 days and our proud PM Modi is asking for “ideas & suggestions” for his Independence Day speech? While Chinese Foreign Ministries are waiting for India’s stand on supporting China on South China Sea issue, I’d rather advise them to wait for the Indian govt. reply as my Kashmiri brothers and sisters have waited for that one day, when a son returns home peacefully, when there is only the chirping of birds and no sound of hand grenades, when the curfew is finally lifted and they can breathe in peace and harmony.

What is independence, if our entire nation can’t live the feeling of being free from any kind of domination?

I shall tell you what makes Kashmir unsafe, it is us who fall in the trap of promises and become oblivious to the past actions of the same leaders.