The Vocabulary Has Changed in Kashmir
I am back from Kashmir after six days. Travelled to Shopian, Tral, Pulwama, Awantipora and uptown areas of Srinagar. I couldn't make it to Old City given the severe restrictions. The situation is worse, people are very upset and angry but largely peaceful since the baton is with the Army and CRPF. Jammu and Kashmir Police is a mere spectator, we hear they have been disarmed.
There was no Eid at all, it was just a mere religious obligation. Salary has not been released to employees, first time since ages, otherwise on Eid the government would ensure salary is released.
During my six days, I was completely out of touch with what was happening around. Most of the people who have satellite TV boxes have not been able to recharge their set top boxes. I recharged the set top boxes of dozens of people yesterday evening soon after landing in Delhi.
There is an eerie silence because the state has been turned into a military garrison. Could never have imagined this Kashmir even in a dream. A new narrative, and a new vocabulary.
I also tried to visit a few former legislators, some being good friends, in the Jawahar Nagar area. I found their quarters locked and no information of their whereabouts.
A lot has changed.
Today no one is seen as a PDP wala, NC wala or a Hurriyat wala. All stand united against the abrogation of Article 370. There are no separatists, or mainstream politicians. The categories have disappeared, as have the dividing lines between Kashmiris in the Valley. The demand is one:
Choun Izzat, Moun Izzat…370…370!
Your Dignity, My Dignity…370…370
To my understanding, the normalcy that can be maintained only at gunpoint is surely shortlived. The government has to take some bold confidence building measures.
Cover Photograph: Two days ago when restrictions were lifted briefly, the floating vegetable market on Dal Lake showed signs of life. BASIT ZARGAR
Sameer Showkin Lone, a social worker in Bastar, Chhattisgarh, is from Kashmir.