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In India’s Kashmir, what happens every day?

  • Published at 12:03 am October 2nd, 2016
  • Last updated at 02:00 pm October 2nd, 2016
In India’s Kashmir, what happens every day?

On September 12, a day before Eid-ul-Azha, which is one of the most important occasions for the Muslim population, we were bracing for an unprecedented curfew.

There was no celebration at my home. No delicacies were cooked. I did not apply henna on my hands, and neither did we wear new dresses. The air was filled with sadness and gloom. Like everyone in Kashmir, we were mourning the deaths that took place due to the brute force used by security forces on the protesters that started on July 9, following the death of 21-year-old militant commander Burhan Wani.

We did not celebrate our Eid. I, along with my mother, did not go to the Eidgah we would go on every Eid for the prayers. Our faces did not wear the same smile as other times. For all this, thanks to India.

When my four-year-old nephew and seven-year-old niece cried on the morning of Eid, why did we not buy them new clothes? We had no answer, our eyes were moist. We couldn’t tell them we were under curfew and we couldn’t go out. We couldn’t tell them about the difficult times they were living in, but yes we will surely tell them these stories once they grow up.

We will tell them about Kashmir when we had no food to give them, when we had no milk to feed them -- all these things are engraved in our hearts that will never be forgotten.

The moment I remember every difficult day we spent, it only deepens the wounds.

On the evening of August 14, a day before India was supposed to celebrate its Independence Day, we were under the strictest curfew, and my cousin who was just three months pregnant felt a sudden abdomen pain. I could see her suffering and struggling, but we couldn’t take her to the hospital for the fear of security forces.

I could see the pain in her eyes for her unborn child, but we were left helpless crying and praying every minute. We didn’t have a curfew pass; and so we couldn’t go out.

After treatment for the pain at home for two days, it was only on the morning of August 16 that we were able to take her to the doctor and hear the news that she had suffered a miscarriage. She carried her dead infant inside her womb for two days, with a hope that everything might be alright.

All these scars are the memories that will never fade from our hearts. This is the story of Kashmir that happens every day under curfew -- and goes unheard and unnoticed.

It seems like a sadistic joke to me when India insists on calling us an integral part, because I wonder where in the world do you cage people on the day of their festival? In fact, where in India do they kill their own people? Where do they book children under draconian laws? I wonder, where else do they kill children, and claim the very same children of “being an integral part”?

All these scars are the memories that will never fade from our hearts. This is the story of Kashmir that happens every day under curfew -- and goes unheard and unnoticed

In the last 80 days, more than 80 civilians have been killed, including an 11-year-old student in Srinagar, who was murdered by hundreds of pellets in his tender body.

When I think about all these things, it makes me believe that something is horribly wrong with us. We are not their own, they love the land filled with rivers, streams, and snow-capped mountains, but certainly not the people who live here.

I see Kashmir not as a paradise on Earth but as a cage on Earth, the biggest of its kind -- where people do not really live, but just survive one day at a time of sheer, unabated oppression. On one hand, they talk about the loss of education and on the other hand, they hand over the schools to security forces. On one hand they talk of development, and on the other hand, their security forces leave no home without ransacking and destroying it.

Wherever they see anything belonging to a Kashmiri, they make sure to break it. What our eyes witness every day is the highest degree of suppression and oppression on civilians. Every day we wake up to the announcement of curfew and the sight of security forces standing outside our homes with the AK-47 guns.

The only solution they have discovered to the long pending conflict in Kashmir is to impose the curfew and lock the mosques, denying people freedom to move or perform their religious duties.

All the brutalities that India causes in Kashmir only makes hate more powerful in hearts of Kashmiri, from a three-year-old child to an 80-year-old man. If someone thinks that calm has returned to Kashmir after more than two months of massive agitation, they are living in a fool’s paradise. India is silencing people by mass arrests and curfews.

Every day they discover new ways to suppress us, sow seeds of frustration, rage, and injustice among the people. The unrest will remain in Kashmir even after the transitions of deceptive calm, till there is no permanent solution.

When 18 security forces were killed in a militant attack in Uri, every Indian was sad, the news continued for days together. Everyone called for revenge, expressing their love for their countrymen. It only proved to us what they really cared for, as their expression of concern was much different over the civilian killings in Kashmir.

The only thing India has never tried in Kashmir is to win the hearts of people. It has failed to take away the sentiment of freedom from people. For a common Kashmiri, India is only what Israel is to Palestine.

The latest technique India has adopted in Kashmir is the use of pellet guns at large scales, blinding hundreds of people. It has failed to contain the protest despite blinding hundreds of people. When Home Minister of India Rajnath Singh visited Kashmir recently, he announced in a press conference in Srinagar that soon pellet guns in Kashmir will be replaced with something else. Yet, pellets are still being showered on the unarmed protesters -- this is telling of the seriousness India has in dealing with the conflict in Kashmir.

I laugh when India talks about Baluchistan. It refuses to open its eyes to the bloody streets in Kashmir, it failed to save an unborn child in my cousin’s womb. It has failed us in every way. It is only by force that they are holding us.

Rifat Fareed is a freelance journalist based in Srinagar, Kashmir.

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