By Faakirah Irfan
While I write this, the Internet connections of various service providers have been shut down. The social media services have been banned, and the only thing working in the state of Kashmir is the ongoing conflict.
The government has stood prepared to face the wrath of Kashmiris by either silencing their voices online or by the bullets on their chest.
A lot has been written about the ongoing conflict in Kashmir. There is nothing much that can be added to it. However, as a story-teller, it is my job to let the society know the truth that it is being suppressed. This is to make those not living in conflict zones realize what it feels to have your virtual life taken away.
Without going into a comparison about the authenticity of narratives, I would like to narrate the reality I know.
I am Sakeena, Raffia, Ayushee. I am a woman living in the strife torn state of Kashmir. A state that you see often being debated upon in news channels, where the anchors, sitting miles away from us, ask us to meet them at a place of understanding. They do not, however, realize the centuries that we’d have to cross to come to their level of understanding. Nor will they ever know how it feels to look at the face of your blind daughter, who would never be able to see the marvelous beauty of her hometown. Her eyes and the eyes of the future of Kashmir lie covered in a big tricolor marked as “collateral damage”.
Nor will the social media warriors protecting the integrity of their nation state by trying to win a war online understand the plight of the mother who lost her only son to a bullet. She will never understand your nationalism or the patriarchal state because there is something called motherhood, which has been snatched from her.
You will see her rise against your soldiers in rage; you will see her anger melt down in tears. But you will never understand her.
Nor will the people sitting in their drawing rooms, sipping rose flavored green tea, understand that the media are selling Kashmiris as terrorists to them. They paint our demand for freedom as terrorism because you let them do so. Nor will you ever know what happens in the alleys of Kashmir, except what they want you to know. They have maimed a generation back here, while you watched them feed you nationalism.
What country are you trying to build on the fodder of the bodies of young boys from Kashmir?
What nationalism makes you agree, rather defend, genocide, rape, and murder?
You will never understand what a Kashmiri goes through when he hears the sound of a blast in Kashmir or outside. We have had grenades and bullets thrown at us in place of fire-crackers for celebrations.
Nor will the ministers residing in the posh localities in Kashmir understand what it feels to be stuck outside government offices trying to locate where your husband, child, father went missing fifteen years ago.
Nor will they ever understand the tears that flow from a child’s face when he sees burials and death. When playgrounds in villages turn into grave-yards, you will never understand the wrath in the soul of that child.
Nor will they understand that we try to exist even as the occupation erases us as much as it can. So when you talk about Kashmir and try to see us through your nationalism and occupation-tinted glasses, please know that your nationalism is fuelled by the blood of innocents. Ask yourself, if it is okay for you to defend your countrymen, who loot, kill, and, plunder on my soil.
While you wave your nationalism at me, I try and wave my humanity at you. Would you ever understand that?
And, maybe, by the time you try and begin to do, my internet connection will be shut down in the name of national security.
Faakirah Irfan is a law student at the University of Kashmir. She aspires to be a human rights defender someday. For now she can be recognized as the “seditious” research intern at the Digital Empowerment Foundation, New Delhi, India.
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City, USA. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine on ‘Women’s Writing from North East India’, edited by Dr. Namrata Pathak, NEHU, Shillong, India.