The city of Srinagar abounded with sparkling lakes, today just one survives, the rest having died unnoticed and silently. This one lake, the oft-quoted and oft-photographed, Dal Lake has withstood the onslaught of man’s greed and nature’s fury for centuries. This lake perhaps is the symbolic representation of a Kashmiri – one who has survived decades, nay centuries, of onslaught by foreign rulers, and continues to sparkle, like the lake, hiding its scars far within. Kashmir would see an era of Peace only when the seat of power was held by one of its own. Never have foreign rulers been able to control it for good and nothing has ever dampened the spirit of the people of this humble valley. A Vale surrounded by such tall mountains that it should never have been discovered by ‘the others’ to begin with. Invaders of all religions, colours, hues, wishes and desires have trampled this humble valley but never could they escape from the fire that burns within the heart of every Kashmiri, the desire to be free. Having lived under subjugation and enslavement, the Kashmiri body may have been enslaved, not the Kashmiri soul!
The year 1947 saw such turn of events, that Kashmir, instead of seeing a breather after an excruciating survival under the Dogras saw it being occupied by a country it did not know. A country it never had any ‘unconditional’ economic, social, political, cultural or religious ties with, any that it might have had were forced. The country was India and 61 years have passed without the slightest ebb in the hatred for the state of India in the hearts of Kashmiris.
Non-violent protest never seen in the past; art of subjugation learned from Israel by India; and a silent international community are the hallmarks of Kashmir since last three months. Was it a simply a case of the few hectares of land that were transferred or the blocking of the National Highway that has given birth to such staunch resentment in Kashmiri hearts? Are they willing to die of starvation rather than come on the table just because of these two issues? Even the rampant un-employment in the state never led to such massive civil disobedience. What is it then exactly? Is Freedom the uncomplicated and simple answer to this complicated and intricate problem that has been dragging on even before the states of India and Pakistan were created?
Freedom does suffice as an answer for a Kashmiri. A Kashmiri who is not well read may not be able to explain further this Freedom to a non-Kashmiri; a learned Kashmiri may elaborate to a non-Kashmiri as to what exactly this ‘Freedom’ means, but still the definition would be elusive. It has a thousand contours and colours, rather Oppression in Kashmir has a thousand contours and colours and the only way to even out those contours and the only antidote to this oppression, as all Kashmiris see it, is Freedom.
To think that it was just the Land Transfer or the Economic Blockade is naïve thinking, it would be murderous for India and the people of India to think of these two abstract reasons as the only and main cause of all the effect we have been seeing in Kashmir.
From a previous post on this blog 1521 For 1, written February 0f 2008:
For those who want to know, this is a clear indication that the fight in Kashmir is not just with the 460 odd always on run militants but something greater. What is that greater? That greater is the burning desire in every Kashmiri for Freedom. The never dying desire to breath the crisp fresh air of Freedom; Freedom from slavery, subjugation, torture and oppression or perhaps just the freedom from having to carry an Identity Card for moving outside our homes in our land or still just perhaps the freedom to know that every morning won’t bring the news of deaths by bombs and bullets. Increasing number of tourists visiting Kashmir or decreasing number of militants is not an indicator of peace, as the Government is trying to portray. Kashmir is a volcano about to burst, like it did in 1989.
And Kashmir did burst the summer of 2008.