Nyla Ali Khan
Yet again in Kashmir, the latter days of September brought heart-rending news of a mother losing her son who was in the prime of his youth.
Two innocent and lovely girls losy a father around whom their world revolved.
And a young woman lost a partner with whom she was creating a home, sharing hopes and dreams, and making memories.
The precarious fate of Kashmiri children who have lost their fathers in the interminable conflict is like a leaden sky whose clouds are getting lower and lower.
Their stories evoke tragic destinies, un-redeemed by justice.
The desecration of the political, social and cultural landscape of Kashmir looms large over the lovely face of nature in its pure majesty.
The unalloyed purity of nature and the spiritual illumination it inspires have, thereby, been indelibly tarnished.
Conflict zones are murky territories. In such places, there is no clear line of demarcation between insurgents and counter-insurgents.
Narratives of insurgency are just as oppressive and hegemonic as narratives perpetuated by the state.
A culture of unaccountability is pervasive in such places. Gun-toting and trigger-happy people of various ideological and political affiliations think they rule the roost.
Victims are punished for their ideologies and affiliations, and outrage is conditioned by whether one is sympathetic toward the ideology and affiliation of the victim or not.
Younger generations learn a skewed history, which is an exercise fraught with peril.
The mangled political landscape of Kashmir is painful, and the killings of two political and social activists in the Valley – a Sikh and a Muslim – within a few hours of each other was a terrible echo of earlier deaths.
In sum, Kashmir continues as a battlefield, in the struggled within and between contending neighbors.
There is a palpable contrast between the enchanting beauty of Kashmir and the glazed eyes of its people. The strains of mystical music continue to be drowned out by the cacophonous sounds of hate and virulence.
It is a conflict driven by nationalistic and religious fervor, with each side — India and Pakistan – pointing to the injustice and violence of the other.
And each time, each side — India and Pakistan — points to its own suffering and sorrow, while ignoring the irreparable loss of lives; irredeemable loss of productive years; loss of properties and sources of livelihood; and the deep-rooted despair of Kashmiris.
Custodial disappearances and deaths continued this past month to in Kashmir, and official orders regarding the protection of detainees are brazenly rubbished.
But the proud people of Jammu and Kashmir will not lose the will to live with dignity. Come what may, they will not lose their resolve to accomplish a prosperous, bright, and secure future.
They cannot be deprived of human dignity, democracy, and basic human rights.
No patriotic and conscientious Indian would allow the cold blooded murder of men, women, and children, both young and old, only because they happen to profess a different religion, and leave the field quietly open for rogues and fanatics.
Well-meaning people continue to strive to protect the cause of humanity in Kashmir and counter custodial disappearances and deaths.
I am in solidarity with those who give the call to end the ugly situation in Kashmir, and to maintain the dignity of the people of J & K as well as the common bond of humanity.
In conflict zones, traditions and collective meanings are vitiated; historical and cultural symbols are demonized by all sorts of political players – state and non-state.
I pray that Kashmir does not continue to face endless melancholy and impossible mourning.
Dr. Nyla Ali Khan writes regularly on world events, including in her homeland of Kashmir, and appears regularly on the CapitolBeatOK.com news website, and in the monthly community newspaper, The City Sentinel, in Oklahoma City. This essay is appearing in the October 2020 print edition of the newspaper, forthcoming. Dr. Nyla has completed work on a new book manuscript. We’ll keep you posted on her progress toward publication.