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24thth January '2014
Masheedi Waanass Jathke Puj!

Mosque is a very revered place in Kashmir and almost every locality has one or more mosques depending upon the population of the area. It represents the gathering of the faithful. A sacred place to offer prayers to the Almighty God. In true sense a holy spot related to the religion of Islam. Many mosques in Kashmir have shops which are rented out to the faithful to earn some revenue for keeping the place neat and clean. Renting out the shop to a butcher selling jathka meat not slaughtered in Islamic way (Halal) is the worst tragedy that can befall a sacred place! A shop attached with a holy and pious mosque undertaking unclean business does not gel. It is the worst contradiction that can exist anywhere!

Kashmir is the only Muslim majority state in India. However, the Muslims here are not religious extremists like the Hindutva brigades. Islam, the religion of peace, came to Kashmir in total peace. Kashmiris converted to Islam voluntarily under no compulsion. Bul Bul Shah and Shah-i-Hamadan converted the bulk of Kashmiris to Islam by their example of brotherhood, serenity, selflessness, and above all piety. They were the harbingers of the religion of peace and love. These spiritual leaders gave Kashmir the mystic aura rather than the fundamentalist hue. The valley is even now called by local people, “Reshi waer” meaning “Abode of Saints”. One can imagine the whole valley to be a mosque where people preach brotherhood and humanity. Unfortunately, the present rulers who in terms of the Kashmiri proverb rented a shop from this mosque started doing all the reverse of what Kashmir has stood for and even now stands for. The meat slaughtered in an unislamic way is totally repugnant to the Muslims all over the world. This process has not only caused colossal damage to the psyche of a Kashmiri but has physically, socially, culturally degraded Kashmir in every possible way.

Often the sizeable participation of the people in the last elections is cited as the reposing of faith by them in the existing system. Well, the tenants of the shop proclaimed from every pulpit that the election is not a solution to the basic problem of Kashmir which is pending a final solution but only a means to get good governance to provide the essentials of daily living. The slogans were the “Bijli, Pani aur Saddak”, power, water and roads. The majority of the people believed that the participation in elections is not going to affect their basic aspirations. So they went in for improving these necessities of daily living. However, they were in for a shock. The meat they were getting was jathka! No bijli at all. Instead the tariff was getting raised every now and then. Same is the story with pani and saddak. Youth were promised jobs of every kind in the state as well as private sector. Finally, towards the end of the term they are being told that there are no jobs! The only thing that was available in plenty and freely were the dog bites. The animal lovers made it a point to ensure with the state help that the stray dog population in Kashmir would outnumber the humans soon.

The worst and the most shocking was what people faced at the hands of the security apparatus. In spite of repeated announcements and commitments, the draconian legislation giving unbridled powers to security forces remained in force making them totally unaccountable for all their actions. Kashmiris continued to be killed as target practice. The freedom of expression remained totally suspended. The much touted zero tolerance to violation of human rights became zero accountability to all actions! Hundreds of young ones were shot in cold blood while protesting with stones against the highhandedness of the security agencies. Fake encounters, rapes and suppression of every kind of public protest became the norm. Politicians became subservient to the security apparatus whose bosses alleged that all of them were on their payroll. Any sympathy shown by any conscientious Indian acted as a red rag to the extremely biased bullish media. Any kind hearted Indian sympathising with the plight of Kashmiris faced the wrath of the Hindutva brigades. Guru Dev Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi don’t seem to have been living in India. In fact, an innocent person had to be hanged surreptitiously to satisfy the collective right extremist conscience of India thereby taking the alienation of Kashmiris to the extreme! The court which sentenced the innocent to death as a matter of conscience commutes the death sentence of 15 convicts who were also on the death row. Divisible justice! Still the mosque shop tenant keeps quiet and swallows everything. Thus the present plight of Kashmir can be aptly described by the Kashmiri proverb, “Masheedi Wanass Jathkeh Pooj”!

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