• What Time Will Tell

    July 26, 2016

    Ananya S. Guha

    Kashmir-1-1013x1024 ©  Mir Suhail Qadri / via hystericalfeminisms.com

    I have never felt so lacerated inside — torn, guilty, angry, and hurt all within. But I know life will, or must continue; writers will write poems or stories and rave and rant at governments and people. What does Kashmir mean to me? Just a patch of land described as beautiful, murderous and murdered? Or a recalcitrant part of the country, which many say does not want to be a part of India? Today I read in the newspaper how a young girl in a village near Srinagar was shot, and is now blind. “We can save her, but not her eyes”, doctors camping there said.

    We are blinded by hate. We are blinded by love or misplaced love. We thought that Kashmir was improving, but there has been a setback. Kashmir once again has become a war zone under military operations. How do we as a country gauge this situation? Do we leave it to the people and the governments? As it is? Do we continue to accuse a neighbouring country of interference, even as it does not care? How will history write about Kashmir? That it is a part of India where people resent militarism and also terrorism from within? What does history have to say about the over hundred unmarked graves? Does death have no names? 

    The hurt is a deep searing wound. And the people who are in the middle of the crossfire of guns, bullets, armed forces, terrorists — what have they done that they should suffer so? Where is the political will to find the solution, so that alienation does not go in a direction that is depraved, mad and treacherous? Kashmir, the paradise of natural beauty, with its bountiful lakes and rich history, has become a war zone. Political analysts will continue to debate about the powers at the centre and their rushed alliance with a local political party. And how must we define a collective, political will?

    Living in far off North-East India, where things have been strikingly similar, one thinks that the strong feelings of separatism may be justified. What are these, as we discuss race, ethnicity and the much-vaunted “mainstream”? How will the mainstream unite all the sub-streams and the recalcitrant peripheries, whose voices are heard only through the rattle of guns, hunger strikes and civil disobedience, which the government does not know how to tackle, and thinks is an issue of lack of development? Much has been said of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the need for its disembowelment. The Apex Court verdict states that no authority has the right to kill – even if those killed are terrorists, militants or criminals – and the law applies to everyone. It means that one cannot take the law in one’s own hands, or blindly kill anyone. This verdict shows that an Apex Court of a country, with areas affected by war and violence, can still retain objectivity and rectitude. 

    What the outcome of this landmark judgement will be, only time will tell! 

    Ananya S. Guha is a writer based in Shillong. He works at the Indira Gandhi National Open University as a senior academic.

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