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update: 11:32, 14 August 2014 Thursday

Kashmir – the forgotten solidarity

Kashmir – the forgotten solidarity

The tragedy with Kashmir is that many people around the world, or should I say most of them, hardly know about it, its people, its struggle

 Sundays in Kashmir for children usually mean going out to the nearest playground and playing cricket, or football or watching the seniors play. Cricket forms an integral part of an ordinary Kashmiri boy. Eulogizing cricket players, mostly from Pakistan, and adopting their style of playing is a common. Some Sundays, however, are characterised by mourning – mourning by a father, a mother, a family – of the murder of a teenage son, a murder by the state.

On July 19, Suhail Ahmad Lone, a 14-year old, class 9th student was killed in firing by Indian paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force in Indian-held Kashmir. The Indian forces fired live bullets directly at unarmed pro-Palestine protestors and also at the bystanders who were not part of the protests. Suhail was as well not a part of the protest. Even if he was, how can one justify his killing, a murder by the state. The fact that Suhail had received bullet in his chest clearly indicates the intent of the forces – the intent to kill, to inflict maximum damage.

To be realistic, if we have to define Kashmir in relevant terms we can say it is the only place where people get equal treatment for everything from protests for electricity or water to protests against oppression – bullets. Right from 2008, when there was a big shift in the way Kashmiris resist – the shift towards popular peaceful protests – the response from the armed forces has been brutal. In the years 2008-2010 more than 200 unarmed protestors were killed by Indian security forces, with 112 in 2010 alone. Those killed included an 11-year old boy who was beaten to death by Indian paramilitary in a street right outside his home when he ventured out to play. Being 11-years old is
too less an age to fathom that you could be actually be beaten to death.

It has been 67 years now since India and Pakistan got birth as two independent nations. Both the countries are celebrating their independence days. But it is ironic that even before both the countries had celebrated their first anniversary of their independence day after getting independence they had already enslaved a nation thus keeping the very concept of colonialism alive in the form of occupation which they fought against to get their independence. Kashmir the form in which it exists today – sharing similarities with Palestine and East Turkistan – is a product of military maneuvers 
in the late 1940s by two neighbouring powers – India and Pakistan.

But the tragedy with Kashmir is that many people around the world, or should I say most of them, hardly know about it, its people, its struggle. This is evident from the fact that even in mosques when prayers are held one never gets to see the name of Kashmir getting a mention. When protests are being held around the world, cries for justice for oppressed nations and people are raised but Kashmir hardly finds a mention. How can one spread awareness about an issue, a struggle when one 
does not even know that such a thing even exists.

In the recent events around the world, of expressing solidarity with the people of Gaza bombarded by Israel, Kashmiris were among the first to register protest. So much so that even the pro-Indian political parties which act as vassals of the Government of India in Kashmir tried to exploit the public sentiment by organizing pro-Palestine rallies or giving out statements. People all around the world protested and some countries even sent financial aid to Gaza. In this context when a friend updated a status on facebook enlisting the contributions of different countries for Gaza, someone was quick to point out that in addition to many Kashmiris who may have contributed individually, financially for Gaza, Kashmir gave what no other nation did, or had to do in order to express solidarity. Kashmir had to sacrifice a young boy to even show solidarity with the oppressed in Palestine.

Kashmir deserves solidarity. Kashmir deserves the attention of the world. Kashmir deserves better.

Tavseef Mairaj


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