This year, 2016, saw a resurgence of violence in Kashmir. It was expected with a Hindutva government in power in Delhi. But what is Kashmiris agitating for ?
The politics of hope is a dangerous thing because it can trap people into a flawed reading of history. That is exactly what happened to us. There was a cultural backdrop. We spoke with a cadence of Pashto; our faith was Arab; our mornings began with recitals from Sa’adi Shirazi; we ate in Turkish utensils; our bedtime stories had scenes from Shahnameh. It was easy to make us believe that one more nudge and history would witness a dramatic reversal; a transformative cataclysm — azadi — was just round the corner.
Expectedly, there came a time in Kashmir when bus conductors were asked to prepare route plans to markets across the border. Peshawari prayer rugs started appearing in homes, wrist watches were turned half an hour behind Delhi time, bridges were burnt, so the enemy couldn’t walk over to our side. Most importantly, all men and women whose loyalties were suspect were hung from elm trees. In a complete withdrawal from reality, people gathered around radio sets to listen to official announcements of freedom, reassuring one another that something was about to happen.