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Mainstream, VOL LI, No 41, September 28, 2013

Vanzara, Asaram, Concert in Kashmir

Tuesday 1 October 2013, by Humra Quraishi


This piece was sent to us sometime ago but could not be used earlier because of space constraints.

Modi getting nailed by his own men. Yes, encounter specialist D.G. Vanzara’s resignation letter from the IPS, could stand as a major obstacle in Modi’s march towards New Delhi or London or even further. So, at long last this jailed murderer cop’s conscience seems revolting, he is out with those horrifying details of getting used by politicians: Modi, Amit Shah and several more… It would be interesting to see how many more in the machinery will revolt and provide evidence against the bunch of murderers of Gujarat, who have been ruling under those garbs, layers of deceit. Killing innocents in those encounters.

More of those so called ‘powerful men’ getting unmasked, together with encounters of another kind. If Asaram Bapu is said to be potent, we are impotent. It took several days and tremendous media pressure for Asaram‘s arrest. And from those initial details tumbling out, there seem strong traces of perversion cum that sickening level of lust in those sexual encounters he’d indulged in.

Before I move ahead and write of other encounters, it’s important to mention that this teenaged girl who had the grit to offload those details of that sexual overtures, if not intrusions, should be provided not just security but also adequate financial support. The state, rather those commissions or ministries, should play an active role in providing those basic musts and support for this hapless girl and her family. It is apparent that it is a lower middle class family, yet their courage goes far, far beyond.

No, it’s not easy to go to a police station and give a written complaint of this nature. Those accompanying offshoots are not easy to handle: Who raped or molested? How? When? How much in terms of intrusion? How little in terms of injuries? Details of your own personal/private life? Details of the bruised form?

What I’m trying to relay is that it could be traumatic or nerve-wrecking for this teenaged victim to narrate those details to the very rape of her form... And together with that undergo those medical tests and the connected focus. This girl and her family went through that ordeal. Not once they did show the slightest trace of weakness. And, mind you, it was no ordinary man they were confronting. After all, details of Asaram’s political connections are known, far and wide. Yet this girl went ahead to lodge a formal complaint against him, little bothered about the aftermath. Perhaps, she knew that truth always prevails. Obstacles or those delays or those hurdles could come in way, but only temporarily. Truth shall prevail. Truth does hold out.

It’s Not about the Concert, but Much
More, Far Beyond

I‘m being asked what is my opinion vis-a-vis this Zubin Mehta conducted concert, organised by the German Embassy on September 7 at Srinagar’s Mughal Gardens.

And with that there has to be focus on the very basic realities prevailing in the Valley—Kashmiris have gone through tremendous pain. In these years or decades they have witnessed blatant killings, disappearances, anarchy and much more along the strain. Depressing changes are taking place. Stark, they stand out. Needless to mention that these changes, rather too apparent in the varying aspects of everyday life, are directly linked to the ongoing turbulence in the Valley. Affecting thousands. And affecting each sphere. Affected is also the literature of the Valley. In fact, earlier the Valley was the only place in this part of the subcontinent to have produced the largest number of shayars/poets but now there’s a definite decline. Today, the young burst into poetry at any given occasion but it carries forth pain and their verse is laden with sorrow…

In fact, even those Kashmiri youngsters who are sent out of the Valley to the so- called ‘safer environs’—the various metros of the country—face another bitter reality: they are often ridiculed, sidelined and even verbally abused and treated as ‘suspects’.

This generation of the Kashmiris has lived in the midst of curfews and crackdowns, fears and apprehensions of the aftermath. In fact, the worst affected is this present generation of the Kashmiris—those who have seen-cum-experienced realities of life, living in a ‘conflict area/zone’. Another grim reality is this: there are over 10,000 missing young men of the Valley who had been picked up for interrogation and never returned home. Connected with this is the reality of half-widows of the Kashmir Valley. No other locale in the world has hundreds of half-widows. These half-widows sit in a state of suspense of sorts—their husbands are not officially declared dead but their names figure in the ‘disappeared’ category. They were picked up for interrogation but haven’t returned. In all probability killed during those interrogation sessions but their bodies not returned… And whilst I was researching for my book on the Kashmir Valley, I met members of the APDP (Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons) —mothers and fathers—whose young sons have gone ‘missing’.

Today we seem to have stopped focusing on the human form and psyche, as though it’s of little consequence. Caught up in those political moves and those divisive policies, we have stopped reacting to the plight of the the average citizen … Beyond the shikara rides and apple orchards, there’s that average citizen of the Valley. We need to know what’s happening to the individual out there. The human being living there, cutting across political divides and religious slots.

In fact, from 1990 I have been focusing on these varying aspects; writing for various publications, periodicals and the national dailies. And in May 2004, my book—Kashmir—The Untold Story—was published by Penguin. In it I have focused on this turbulence and its impact on the Kashmiris … And till date there is little change, in terms of human pain and suffering, together with the barbaric form of policing and control. The only change is layers of gaudy ‘make-up’ heaped on these tragedies. But all possible cosmetic tactics cannot hide the very basic realities: hundreds of unmarked graves in and around the Valley, those murders of young school boys, illegal arrests of teenagers, barbaric intrusions into homes, those ongoing detentions and arrests. A caged sort of survival for hundreds. With the boot ruling, with the politicians and political moves holding sway.

Music carries the power to heal but one has to be sensitive enough to realise that healing cannot be done in those rationed or allotted minutes or hours. A genuine healer knows that healing is a gentle cum-subtle-cum-gradual-process. And healing can be successful only when sorrow and pain are somewhat contained.

Leaving you with these lines of Baba Bulleh Shah …

Masjid dhaa de, Mandir dhaa de, Dhaa de jo kuch dhenda,
Par kissi da dil na dha vee, Rab dilla wich rehnda hae.
[Destroy a mosque, destroy a temple, destroy everything in sight,
But don’t break a human heart, for that is where God resides.]
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