It would rather surprise most of the people in Kashmir who have been witnesses to an unending mourning and gigantic funerals, however for someone far from Kashmir, a man having no relation with a civilian tearing apart his clothes is not an uncommon sight, “to rip off clothes and cry out like an animal in pain?” is not something unusual, Kashmir valley has been in a disbelief about the ugly turn of events.
The Kashmir valley is now often gripped with deathly silence, the streets in this Himalayan valley of fabled beauty are now often in news for massive funerals, mass protests, sizzling anger and deathly silence.
This troubles visible in the valley today began in July 2016, when Indian Forces killed three Militants in the Kokernag area of South Kashmir, including Popular Militant commander, Burhan Wani, Every day in Kashmir is mourning for the locals, as it brings news of more unarmed civilians killed somewhere in Kashmir.
These children of the conflict fight the Forces with stones during the day time and record their memories at night, using Internet-based social media like Facebook and YouTube both to mobilize within Kashmir and to communicate with the outside world.
Two decades of military crackdown has transformed Kashmir into a tale of bitter memories. Residents often say they are subjected to collective punishment whenever they rise in protest. The collective sense of dispossession and disillusionment with their past, mixed with the recent experiences of lethal injustice, has been prompting people to find their own place in the world.
Funeral is also seen as a major political statement in contemporary Kashmir, as thousands of people attend the funeral processions for local Militants who die fighting Indian soldiers. During several recent gunfights, moreover, civilians diverted the soldiers’ attention from the procession in order to help the Militants escape unscathed. These trends have alerted Indian agencies.
In July last year, I was on the way home after covering the funeral of a young Militant in South Kashmir; I stopped by to meet a lady in her mid 30s returning after attending the funeral of the slain militant. The women here have went beyond the social taboos and the existing scenario in Kashmir has led to this defiance and attending these funerals is nothing but an attempt to send a message out to the people who have “deceived” them in the name of elections, in the name of change and development.
Singing hymns of Freedom and folktales of bravery, thousands of people from nearby areas in processions marched towards the native of people killed at the hands of Indian Forces. In Heff Shermal, during the funeral of Slain commander, Saddam Padder, People came and started taking their places without any guidance, some stationed themselves on tree tops to get a clearer view of the slain Militant, Saddam Padder, overall it is a startling as well as a disheartening sight.
This is not merely a funeral, but this is a celebration of ‘Martyrdom’ a ceremony of one of the fiercest Militant commanders. As the rush of people swelled, people struggled to create their own space, To this open field, people are still coming laden in tractors, trucks and mostly two wheelers, people insisted that Slain Saddam be laid to rest the next day.
During the funeral of another Militant, Bashir Lashkar in South Kashmir, dozens of men and women who fainted at the funeral after tearing apart their clothes were taken to the hospital for treatment, none of them had any remotest of connection with him, similarly during the funeral of Andleeb, the 13 year old girl from Hawoora Kulgam who was killed in Army firing in April saw a massive funeral, women from many South Kashmir villages marched to her funeral amid tears and sobs, in fact most of the households in Kashmir mourn civilian as well as Militant causalities, this sight is not uncommon in Kashmir.
The people in Kashmir feel that since India came to Kashmir, the people of Kashmir have lived a life of mental suffering, political dis-empowerment and mistrust by the Indian state, and an unending military brutality since 1990, A protester as reported in one of our stories told us, “Can India afford justice in Kashmir? No.” Another protester, who said that as a young boy he witnessed two of his siblings being killed and his mother molested by troops, “To live honorably in Kashmir means to keep fighting India and we will, even if there is no victory.”
Author: Muzaffar Itoo
Muzaffar Itoo is reporting for The Kashmiriyat from Pahalgam Belt