Decades of violence has yielded only miseries and bloodshed. We are now turning into enemies of each other. The route to peace in Kashmir is long and uncertain.
By Mohammad Amin Manasbali
After the uncelebrated August 15, there knocked the day, unusual in routine, when the birds seemed to have left the valley without chirping, departed, perhaps, to no man’s land. Almost the smoke of shells used yesterday has touched the sky’s zenith, hindering its golden rays from kissing the earth. Peace is caged. Violence has done its worst dance. Men and women are fixed in grief. In such a crucial state, I was not allowed to rest against the wall.
After the rehearsal of the theoretical knowledge of the ongoings in Kashmir, the officers deployed me for duty almost at the month at Rekke Chowk, Batamaloo, near command post, laddered with elaborate paraphernalia for self-defence against stone pelters. I was weighed down by a navy green helmet, leg and chest guards made out of bamboo stick and a wooden shield.
Coming events cast their shadow. The stone pelters began to hurl stones at us with no concession. Before I could inch ahead, I was stoned. It was my debut, almost unacquainted with the surroundings that I am, I couldn’t hide myself behind a neighbour’s fence.
Jawan is a compliment for a policeman or any other soldier, whether their beards have turned grey or not; whether they have got critically injured. One among us lost couple of teeth too.
The slogans regarding freedom such as ‘Hum Kya Chahtey? Azadi’, ‘Pakistan Zindabad’, ‘Narey Takbeer Allah o Akbar’ rented in the air. Our preplanned tactics to handle these situations proved vestigial, because war needs practicality, not theoretical knowledge. On both sides, fountains of blood gushed out. The midday appeared like an evening to me. The fertile soil turned red and my conscience whispered in my ears – is Kashmir a paradise on Earth? Is this the land of Reshis (Saints)?
At last, the war will ended. Nobody would be defeated. No one will win.
Na Jism Azad Hei Mera Ghulam Hei Mere Rab
Matha Hei Sajdey Mei Kafir Se Hoon Juste-Joo
Kyu Aaj Be Hei Tu Who Arzoo Liye Hue
Juda Ho Musalman Usman Ho Hu Ba Hu (Gafil)
At dusk, I sat under the shadow of a tree where my moist eyes were pleasantly surprised by the sight of the setting sun. After a gap of what looks like years to me, my thoughts turned into words and assisted me to unburden myself. I remember the days when I used to help complete strangers in crossing the road. The question on who divided us and kept me at distance from my own people remains unanswered.
Sometimes I meditate about those people who have been cooling their feet in their homes. Even yesterday’s experience showed me that I am refugee, a pilgrim, in my own land when an old man didn’t even respond to my ‘Salam’. Sometimes I think about the families who live from hand to mouth. I think about those who lost their eyesight, about the wet eyes of mothers who are withering in the death of their dear ones. I think about the young boy whom I met near security lines in Batamaloo who didn’t care to notice my soft heart behind my rigid chest guard. In the hearts of hearts, I pray to Allah (swt) to navigate us through these repeated storms unharmed. The catalogue of miseries is multiplying; one man has turned into another’s enemy. Violence has bred violence and nothing else. Yet the route to peace for Kashmir is long and uncertain.