TRADING THE TRAGEDY
Sheikh Fayaz Ahmad
This small piece of writing is an innocuous one, not intended as an affront to anybody. Intention is however straightforward i.e. to reproduce the reality from a place which others have either neglected or misrepresented so for. The rationale is to rewrite and re-examine the devastation, destruction, wreckage and loss which conflict has inflicted on a small population of around eight hundred thousand souls who live in a district which more resembles an established war laboratory, a graveyard, and a funeral ground for living and innocent bodies. I am talking of a border district of Kashmir, where I was born with dead souls lying adjacent to me and red blood flowing beneath my feet: A place where majority live a humiliated, tortured and disgraced life. It appears that everyone here is half buried, completely battered, fully abused and half dead. Ignored by everyone, sold by each one, used by many, but the pain, agony, sufferings and strife which these people are going through is something which scarcely is realized or verbalized by anyone. In this regard I consider this write-up as my duty which I must not get away with.
Kupwara, a small place, officially a district of Kashmir and 100 km away from capital city Srinagar is badly entangled in the political subterfuges and skirmishes between India and Pakistan near Line of Control. Although graced with breathtaking natural beauty, this place reflects some monster realities of human cruelty, barbarism and grave brutalities. A place, where grandmothers were raped, sisters abused, elders humiliated, youth tortured and children tormented, also became a laboratory where all brutal and ferocious experiments of deadly human invented war tactics were carried out. It is true, that all areas mired in armed conflicts witness such horror experiments but it’s equally accurate that a 100 year old grandmother is raped only here and not to talk of other war-novelties which this district has so far witnessed. Disappearances, mass rapes, fake encounters, death by unidentified gun wielding persons, arsons, loot and daily terror is not only a norm but an established and unquestionable institution.
Some brutal beasts disguised as humans devastated and shattered us. Equally accurate and dreadful is the narrative that many institutions, groups and individuals who came with the promises of sympathy and hope also used us, commodified us, let alone politicize and instrumentalise our victimhood. Our blood became their wealth in banks, our tears their treasure, our soreness their news story, our humiliation their honor, our helplessness their strength and our backwardness their benefit. We are not only physically assaulted and abused but also intellectually molested and ruthlessly wronged population. What we demand is made obscure, what we fight for is rendered incomprehensible, what we cry for is not heard. Some brand us freedom fighters, some call us renegades, some tag us traitors; some abuse us and some exploit us. There is occasional appreciation and acknowledgement of our intelligence but usual detestation for our backwardness. Let me but clearly explicate here that we are not asking for any sympathy, we are not begging for any dignity, we are not struggling for any favors but what we unequivocally ask for is stop marketing our agony, eschew politicizing our sufferings, abstain from trading our honor, discontinue representing us and desist from consoling us. Because of late we have come to realize that for personal excellence and individual benefits, our innocence and purity is misrepresented; our sacrifices are desecrated and our struggle and ethos are traded and compromised.
Armed conflict is no doubt synonymous with destruction, devastation, killings and torture which this district in particular and Kashmir valley in general has experienced. But, the grave tragedy which we never imagined and struck us badly is the treatment we got from our own ‘poster people’. We had never anticipated that our sufferings will be capitalized by some to become intellectual and economic elites. On one hand there are uncountable number of orphans who are dying in squalors, on the other hand there are those blessed few who have managed entry into elite schools for their children, unmindful of the misery of these children of lesser god. Our nagging voices have become merely harmonious songs and poems for many; our blood which had spilled out from our hearts has become ink for printing money. We “lumpen-villagers” are being denied peaceful sleep and therefore dreams of life. The elite dominance and their omnipresent impression on our struggle is actually what is holding back our people. They are promised with bogus things, their energy is diverted, they are misguided, thinking manipulated and their struggle commodified. After a long bloody struggle, these villagers are now rewarded with reckless terminologies. Their bloodied past, bruised history, traumatic experiences and torturous memories are disregarded like anything by none other than our “manufactured elites and elite intellectuals”.
Many among them may interpret this small piece as something which is advocating the rights of the subalterns, poor and the rural man, and may misinterpret this piece as something which is directed against those ‘elite urban intellectuals and conflict- instrumentalsing bourgeoisie’ who are hell bent to trade our struggle. Nevertheless, I must put it very explicitly here that my intention is never so. I just want to signal out the truth as my duty, it is up to them how to interpret (or misinterpret) the reality.
The writer hails from Kupwara and is a full time PhD candidate at the Centre for Studies in Science Policy, JNU, New Delhi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or sheikhfayazahmad.blogspot.com