“Colourful Red Valley” by Mamidipudi Mukunda

Written by  //  October 15, 2015  //  Reflections  //  Comments Off

Two years ago, by chance, I worked with one separatist leader in an organisation in Delhi. Rayees was sent to Delhi by his ailing mother, with the singular hope of reducing his chances of going to jail. He, of course, had planned an agitation in the famously left-leaning leaning JNU the next day to mark the second death anniversary of the ‘martyr’ Afzal Guru, who was convicted and killed by the Indian state for a crime he ostensibly committed. I followed Rayees to this protest march in which Afzal Guru’s co-conspirator was speaking (he was acquitted for the same offence as Afzal Guru by the Supreme Court).

The meeting started emphatically, as these meetings do, with a counter agitation by the ABVP with guns being pointed towards the sky. Rayees glanced at me as if to reassure me that this was as normal as the a Kashmiri eating beef. I stared, scared, into the blissful distant forests that the Ganga dhaba allowed to with the hope of surviving this protest march. Unperturbed, Rayees proceeded to the dais and began his speech with a solemn oath, he screamed, ‘Today, as Kashmiris, we mark the death of one of the latest martyrs for our cause. When he left to Jannah, he left with the fire that burns in Kashmir. His death adds not only fuel but also anger to this fire of our bloodied valley and country. If we don’t reclaim what is our birthright, no one will. I invite Shaukat Hussain Guru to enlighten us about our own cause against this imperialist, inconsonant, irrational India.’

Shaukat Guru was shortly built for a Kashmiri. His face was affixed with a frown which seemed to have been derived from the unpacifiable anger gathered over the many years in prison for an uncommitted crime. Rayees sniggered and said, ‘Shaukat has said that even he was found to have committed the crime, he wouldn’t feel he wasted his years in prison because his murder would have outraged the valley. He is right.’

Shaukat, sarcastically started, ‘These kafir say in their pledge that In our well being and prosperity alone; lies their happiness. Let it be known that they think our wellbeing is when they kill us. They probably do this because we can’t have a well being here. These encroachers say in their Constitution that they want to promote their own fraternity. How do they do it? They have an inside joke of killing Kashmiris and laugh about it. That’s how they do it. And they still want us to be part of them.’

At this point, the ABVP protestors switched off the electricity to the hall. Rayees got up and told me that the meeting was over.

The next day, I read in the papers that the protestors had punctured the tires of Shaukat’s car and slept the entire night in front of it to cause loss to Shaukat and the Kashmiris. I met Rayees in the office for the last time that day. He started by telling me that the meeting was successful because it got reported in all the right newspapers. Rayees said, ‘You’re a brave Indian. I wouldn’t go near any of my meetings if I were you. The injustice that is perpetrated in my country is unbearable for all of us. My own brother has been in jail under suspicion of being a terrorist, for 3 years and he is 24 years old. We lose our entire future on our collective identity that is not understandable for anyone outside Kashmir. There will be always paternal, patronising Indians, questioning our claim, telling us that we will be no good if there were no India, telling us that Pakistan is waiting to pounce on us. They don’t understand our identity. As a Kashmiri, I want to face these fights with my brother Kashmiris, and help from India and everybody else. I do not want you encroachers to scream into my ear that Kashmir is useless. If we are so useless, then just let us go. We are more than happy to fight our own battles. Remember that you have no claim to rule a people who do not wish to be ruled by you. Let us determine where our hostilities lie.’

Rayees left to Kashmir that night after his father was killed in mysterious circumstances.

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