Kashmir I am Calling

Shahzad Hamdani

When the People of Kashmir were getting ready to participate in the Death Anniversary of Maqbool Bhat who was hanged by the Indian Authorities on 11th Feb, 1984, something uncalled and unexpected happened just two days before the death anniversary of Maqbool Bhat; something which no kashmiri had ever thought of in deep corners of his mind; something which was enough to set Kashmir once again on fire. For me it was moreover an early “mourning” rather than morning. It was on 09th Feb-2013 at 7:00 A.M when I received a call from my friend. He said, “security forces have cordoned almost every street of Kashmir. Something has happened,there are people who are saying that Afzal Guru has been executed. Just move out and see what is happening.”

I turned on the Television but the cable network was down. I moved out of my home, and all I could feel was a complete silence on the street. A complete seize on Kashmir by security forces, no one was being allowed to move out of their homes.

There was something grooming in the air; I could see some elders sitting in the narrow kochas, murmuring silently; some women were begging to God for mercy and few children peeping out from their windows. This was the scene which was enough to take one’s breath away. Suddenly a girl came out screaming, “Yes,  He has been hanged. They have hanged Afzal Guru; Ya Allah this was not done.”

For a moment I was completely taken aback. Did they really hang him? How could they do it?

This is what I could say at that point of time, but the rulers of so called democracy had taken yet another Son, the same way and in the same month. In a few span of time men and women started pouring out of their homes. Young men and women burst into tears; while elders giving them comfort. I heard an elder person almost in his eighties saying, “This was all in destiny. We too want to cry for mercy but Maqbool Bhat took all the tears”. Within a short span of time the narrow kocha was not enough, the way the number started gaining; all heading towards the main road with anger all visible on their faces; and they started; “Hum Kya chahate Azaadi; Tum Kitnay Afzal maro gai, Har ghar sai Afzal niklay ga”

I got inside the car and started to move towards the News office. All the way I couldn’t help myself to stop from crying. This was completely uncalled and inhuman, Afzal Guru was an innocent but there was no point of discussion left. How much I could think about it, the same was not going to change the bitter truth. Alas! the so called Indian Democracy had once again set this himaliyan region on Fire; Kashmir was about to witness the Maqbool Bhat of 2013.

 All the way to my office, I could hear “Slogans of Azadi” once again on the streets; last time I heard of it in 2010 and first time in the year 1998. That single year which still haunts by mind; still pinched me for it was that year when we Kashmiris almost though that freedom was at the doorsteps.

I still remember that one single vacation break, I had just moved to the seventh standard with the lingering fear of the “Board Exams” in heart. Yet there was a quite unease in the class; something new was in the air; something that had nothing to do with the graft of school learning nor anything to do with girls. It was in the first month of the winter vacation I heard the word “Azadi”. In our teenage craziness I and a couple of my friends even sketched the new flag of that yet to be born nation. As each day passed and the people marched we believed that freedom was here.

Just the same way, our elders used to debate of what was about to come, we the desperate teenagers waited in the narrow kochas of our land to see a Mujahid; those selfless men who would make us free. It was a winter of hope that never survived the spring of killing and eventual betrayal. For with spring came the burning, killing and rape of Kashmir at the hands of Forces. Soon, hope was replaced with fear. And as fear grew we retreated into our homes almost wishing to be left alone.

Today I ask myself. Has anything changed; the answer being a ‘Big No’.

Today, for many people across the Globe and Particularly in India, Kashmir is now seen through the eyes of honeymooners who visit Kashmir and spend their pleasant days, or a Kashmiri boatman selling shawls by the banks of Dal Lake or those tourists who spend their vacations in Gulmarg and Pahalgam.

They see Kashmir blessed with the landscape across the forest and the whiteness of a fresh layered snow in Gulmarg. They see Kashmir from the eyes of Suleiman peaks, stretching wide across the Dallake; sitting near the Hazratbal Shrine.

But in all these years, I still see Kashmir through the eyes of a Mother, watching towards the door, murmuring and recalling what took the peace from her home; waiting for her lost son; knowing he is dead.She counts her own life and then curse herself. I still see Kashmir from the eyes of a Girl; she calls herself a ‘Victim of conflict’. I still see Kashmir from the eyes of an old man; sitting near a graveyard and recalling those countless deaths; deaths which are still going on with young men ready to sacrifice of the just cause of freedom.

These endless stories of hope and despair leave behind a lesson for the upcoming.  A lesson for those who have compromised on their inner conscience, yet close their eyes to see the dreams of freedom. Such people should remember that freedom is the most basic of all human rights, and yet throughout history many individuals and nations have had to struggle to be free.
There are a few times in your life when all your instincts will tell you to do something, something that is based on struggle, something that pushes us to tougher roads and it is that point of our life one need to understand that the battle of life is, in most cases, fought uphill; and to win it without a struggle were perhaps to win it without honour. If there were no difficulties there would be no success; if there were nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to be achieved.

So, it is much necessary to stay on the march; to be on the journey and to work for peace and freedom wherever we are at all times. Being dedicated to the cause of freedom; and those who profess to favour freedom, and yet deprecate struggle, are men who want crops without ploughing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle.

Still, the memories of 2008 and 2010 is unfinished; soon time will gear up towards another Indian sponsered election; and soon the men who by birth right have been ordained as leaders of Kashmir will be on the move; VOTE or DON’T…..Kashmir I am Calling.