JK Bank

Kashmir is doused in mourning, and soaked in blood – once again. ‘Bloody November’ ended after 46 deaths in Kashmir, sparking outrageous protest and grieve mourning across the Valley. Nonetheless, December came. Today, on 15 December 2018, seven civilians were killed, while more than 60 were injured, and now lie in the hospitals.

A cold-numb morning in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district started with the gunfight in Kharpora, Sirnoo area. By the time last bullets were fired by the government forces, three militants, one army personnel, and at least seven civilians died. More than 60 received injuries in fierce clashes near the encounter site and its adjacent areas. Notably, one of the slain militants has been identified as deserted army personnel, Zahoor Thokar.

While one of the civilians was identified as the father of a 3-month-old girl, who was also in the area. Another was identified by a bystander as, “He is my son.”

Several rhetoric writers claimed that, if the oppression doesn’t stop, then one day, Kashmir would become such a battlefield, where every next dead will be yours. Hasn’t it happened – already?

Imagine walking in a neighbourhood, and watching a dead body lying, only to realize, “He is my son!”

“He is my son,” must have been the words of many fathers in Kashmir, in the last thirty years since the armed rebellion erupted. What made Mr Thokar desert with the gun – only to shoot from the other side? He had been on the state’s side, and he knew how long he will survive. But, he went. Why? These are the speculations, left to be done by students of political science and analysts.

Politicians in India and in Kashmir are known for the realpolitik approach. One of the members of the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), Mirwaiz Umar Farooq announced a protest march to Badamibagh Cantonment with a message to the Government of India – “Kill all at once, rather than killing us daily.”

While BJP spokesperson asked Pakistan to declare their country as ‘secular’, as a condition to initiate the ‘peace-dialogue’, and the External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj declined the SAARC invitation in the meantime.

The tinge of peaceful future came in the face of opening of Kartarpur corridor, but Punjab minister Navjot Singh Siddhu’s presence swept all the prime time debates. Swaraj asked Pakistan to vacate all the area under its ‘illegal occupation’, while Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, Tehmina Janjua said in a statement that despite India’s negative attitude, Pakistan will keep pitching for the ‘peace-process.’

JRL is caught up one day between – call for shutdown or not? But give one nevertheless. The face of Kashmir politics- Mufti and Abdullah – were busy exchanging emojis and memes on Twitter, the governor ordered the state assembly to be dissolved.

Kashmir’s political diaspora seems to be more jubilant and naive than ever. A government-less state, shadowed by decades-long conflict, and extensive presence of forces, leaves a non-significant space to breathe.

The year 2018 has witnessed highest number of killings in the last one decade – with more than 3250 dead, at an average of 325 per year. Adding to that are 11 more today only.

Same CASO. Same pro-freedom slogans. Same bullet sounds. Same funeral prayers. And same shutdown calls. Same photo-ops by leaders. Same ’emissaries of peace.’ The violence in Kashmir has continued – with each passing day, week, month, and year, swallowing families, yet the two countries – India and Pakistan, find it hard to sit next to each other.

The question one must ask – how long will it take, how many bodies, how many graves, how much destruction, till someone looks at Kashmir as a region with real people living in it, and not just a ‘territorial dispute.’