Home > Archives (2006 on) > 2010 > State Terrorism in Kashmir Valley

Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 44, October 23, 2010

State Terrorism in Kashmir Valley

Sunday 24 October 2010, by Humra Quraishi


[The following piece was sent to us quite sometime ago but could not be used earlier due to unavoidable reasons.]

It pained me to read of Sikhs receiving threats in the Valley and as I sat back wondering the whys to it, I found it almost unbelievable. For all along, all these years, even during the peak of the earlier crisis phases, I always saw great unity between the Valley Sikhs and the Muslim population. In fact, the bonding seemed perfect, with just about no hint or a strain or a crease. I still recall one or two earlier instances when even the remotest possible chance of disruptions were handled with maturity by the community leaders.

So what has happened now? Could this be one of the establishment’s strategies—that strategy to divide and rule? That age-old ploy, which was so well used by the Brits on the Indian population: dividing the Hindu and Muslim populations for times to come, dividing the entire region along religious lines, creating havoc and hatred between the two communities?

With the ongoing unnerving situation in the Valley, with killings going on, with barbaric tactics used against unarmed children and teena-gers, just about anything seems possible. I can’t think of a better term than call this ongoing onslaught as state terrorism. What else is state terrorism? And in such a situation the ground seems rather ripe for rumours, for distrust, for threats, for divides, for disruptions, for mischief, for all those ploys to create dents.

Can the sane step forward and somehow cry halt to this? In the span of just a few weeks over sixty civilians dead or to be precise killed, hundreds lying injured, don’t know how many hundreds sitting in jails and not to overlook the thousands who have been affected. This is the painful reality prevailing in the Valley and we are mute and spineless spectators to this!

New Delhi Can’t Cope...

For the last seven days I have been sitting at home. No, I haven’t been down with dengue and nor have been bitten by mosquitoes or by those stray dogs loitering aimlessly all over the streets of New Delhi. I’m sitting indoors because the roads of this Capital city are lying broken and near flooded and so it gets difficult to drive on them. With rains the roads can’t cope and this is affecting our very lives. There is not just that scare of the spread of disease and infection but much more. The very mobility comes to a standstill. There is every possibility of you and your vehicle sitting stranded in the midst of those dug-up roads. Yes, the situation is pathetic. And most would find it difficult to believe that a city which is said to host the Commonwealth Games is lying in such a mess.

With this in the background or foreground this new volume on Delhi came as a breath of fresh air. Edited by Mala Dayal, Celebrating Delhi (Ravi Dayal Publishers and Penguin-Viking) has essays on the different aspects of Delhi. Mind you, Delhi as it was supposed to exist. That is, before it lay dug up and messed around with political games.

Anyway, let me not distract you but to get you back to this volume, as it does carry the very essence of this city. Such books are for keeps, should be placed high up on the shelf, for those essays tucked in it make you aware of the various aspects to this city.

Essays by Khushwant Singh, Upinder Singh, William Dalrymple, Sunil Kumar, Pradip Krishen, Narayani Gupta, Vidya Rao, Sohail Hashmi, Dunu Roy, Priti Narain, Ravi Dayal focus on Delhi’s very history together with those historical monuments, those trees planted along its avenues, the very cuisine and the food spreads, those Sufi traditions, the languages that once prospered, the poetic and classical flow, and that very distinct culture that flourished in its expanse…

Mother Teresa’s Birth Centenary Celebrations

As we celebrate the birth centenary of Mother Teresa, let me quote Khushwant Singh from the volume Absolute Khushwant (Penguin):

In my study in my cottage in Kasauli, I have two pictures of the people I admire most—Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa… It must have been more than thirty years ago that I was asked to do a profile of Mother Teresa for The New York Times. I wrote to Mother Teresa seeking her permission to call on her. Having got it, I spent three days with her, from the early hours of the morning to late at night. Nothing in my long journalistic career has remained as sharply etched in my memory as those three days with her in Calcutta.… Before I met her, I read Malcolm Muggeridge’s book on her, Something Beautiful for God. Malcolm was a recent convert to Catholicism and prone to believe in miracles. He had gone to make a film on Mother Teresa for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). They first went to the Nirmal Hriday (Sacred Heart) Home for dying destitutes close to the Kalighat temple. The team took some shots of the building from outside and of its sunlit courtyard. The camera crew was of the opinion that the interior was too dark, and they had no lights that would help them take the shots they needed. However, since some footage was left over, they decided to use it for interior shots. When the film was developed later, the shots of the dormitories inside were found to be clearer and brighter than those taken in sunlight. The first thing I asked Mother Teresa was if this was true. She replied, “But of course. Such things happen all the time.” And she added with greater intensity, “Every day, every hour, every single minute, God manifests Himself in some miracle.” She narrated other miracles of the days when her organisation was little known and always short of cash. “Money has never been much of a problem,” she told me, “God gives through His people.” She told me that when she started her first school in the slums, she had no more than five rupees with her. But as soon as people came to know what she was doing, they brought money and other things. The first institution she took me to was Nirmal Hriday. It was in 1952 that the Calcutta Corporation had handed the building over to her. Orthodox Hindus were outraged. Four hundred Brahmin priests attached to the Kali temple demonstrated outside the building. One day I went out and spoke to them, “If you want to kill me, kill me. But do not disturb the inmates. Let them die in peace.” That silenced them. Then one of the priests staggered in. He was in an advanced stage of galloping phthisis. The nuns looked after him till he died. That changed the priests’ attitude towards Mother Teresa. Later, one day, another priest entered the Home, prostrated himself at Mother Teresa’s feet and said, “For thirty years I have served the Goddess Kali in her temple. Now the Goddess stands before me.”

And to Khushwant Singh’s this particular query —“Tell me, how can you touch people with loath-some diseases like leprosy and gangrene? Aren’t you revolted by what people filthy with dysentery and cholera vomit?”—Mother Teresa had gently replied, “I see Jesus in every human being…”

Notice: The print edition of Mainstream Weekly is now discontinued & only an online edition is appearing. No subscriptions are being accepted