It was amusing to see other day (on the third day of curfew) the NDTV correspondent reporting live from near Jehangir Chowk and claiming that Kashmir had been very peaceful for last twenty four hours. One wonders what they understand by “Peace”! The most peaceful place in the world is a grave yard. The dead neither move around nor they speak to each other and thus one can really observe the real and lasting “Peace” in the grave yard. Probably the correspondent meant that very variety of “Peace”? For four days continuously 8 million or so people of Kashmir have been physically locked up in their homes. Paramilitary troops and armed Policemen are patrolling not only main roads but even lanes and by lanes. Rolls of concertina wire have been placed on all exit and entry points of various localities and on main road junctions. Some of videos on YouTube and photos on the net give an eerie feeling. The most touted tourist “Paradise on Earth” under siege. A clamp down not even seen in some of the worst totalitarian states of South America or the erstwhile Soviet Union or even the Nazi Germany. Those people at least had the decency of allowing the needy, elderly, and sick people to move around.
The worst part is the total communications and information blockade. The authorities in Delhi seem to have decided that no news is good news. The internet, the national and international cable TV news channels are totally off. The local cable TV channels had already been debarred from reporting any news after 2010 upheaval. Ironically, the state Chief Minister while addressing the media had said that the correct news should be reported as rumours always created a problem. Probably he too was not aware that Delhi had a better solution of no news is good news! These people seem to be living in a cuckoo’s world. We are in 21st century of the information age. Clamping down on news is next to impossible. These days there are plenty of websites which teach one how to by-pass all these barriers for dissemination of news and go on the information highway to reach the entire world. One can go on internet through ISD or STD or even through satellite phones. Some sites even provide free access to internet worldwide. The only thing the authorities may have succeeded in doing is cutting off Kashmiris from one another. However, this is precisely where the rumours take hold of the people and the situation deteriorates rather than stabilises.
Why such a severe clamp down? If Afzal Guru was a self-confessed terrorist and had been convicted after duly following the process of law and then the sentence carried out, what the Home Minister called, after fulfilling all the requirements of law, then why put entire Kashmir under siege. Do the authorities have a nagging doubt that they had done something terribly wrong? Or do they fear that even a proclaimed Kashmiri terrorist indulging in violence against the highest seat of the largest democracy in the world is considered to be a hero in Kashmir? That would imply that in spite of all the tall claims of the Kashmiris loving India, they really hate it. The alienation which was already quite deep must have now reached a climax and this fear prompted authorities to virtually imprison all Kashmiris till their anger subsides. If this has been their consideration then they have made a terrible mistake. A Kashmiri is a very intelligent creature. He registers everything but very rarely acts spontaneously unless faced by extreme danger to his being.
The new generation in Kashmir has not only seen violence in its worst form but has been virtually brought up in a continuous atmosphere of conflict and siege. They do not consider this type of clamp down something unusual and take it in their stride. The only thing the authorities achieve by such measures is temporary superficial calm while the volcano simmers under the surface ready to burst at the opportune time without any warning. Such things have a long gestation period and the Chief Minster himself has stated that these events have a long term impact. The 1990 uprising in Kashmir had Maqbool Bhat as its role model. He was slowly being forgotten except for the day of his hanging in Tihar Jail on February 11, 1984 celebrated every year by his close followers. His sacrifice took 6 years to produce an uprising. Delhi by its own inept handling has given a new role model to the Kashmiri youth, the Afzal Guru. His example may not take such a long time for gestation. If one goes by the protests held by Kashmiri Youth studying in different parts of India in spite of the hardships they had been facing due to the fact of being Kashmiri, the new uprising may have already begun.
What is most pathetic is that the entire media especially the electronic one is not bringing to the notice of the Indian public the extreme hardships being faced by common Kashmiris for no fault of theirs. They have been meted out a “Collective Punishment” by the “Collective Conscience” of India. Delhi can still salvage the situation if they remove the siege and agree to hand over the mortal remains of Afzal Guru to his relatives for a decent burial in his home town. No doubt it may result in a mausoleum but that would be far less dangerous than the symbolic grave in Tihar Jail of a “martyr” acting as a continuous inspiration for an unending struggle!