Najeeb Mubarki

From The Economic Times: “The Diss in the Uncomfortable Disquiet

“The slogans thunder in the dark, moonless night. One tries to decide whether this particular one is saying ‘greetings’ or ‘peace be upon you’ to the martyrs. But these are old slogans, all of them. One has kept hearing them in Kashmir, but not with such intensity and fervour except probably in the early 90’s.

One goes to sleep with the slogans still resounding, one awakes to those voices still chanting. The days are a surreal coalescence of dreadful anticipation, rage, helplessness and sheer ennui. One of Kashmir’s bright young journalists says ‘life here is Orwellian, Kafkaesque and Catch-22, all rolled into one’. It’s the fifth straight day of the curfew; it’s been years since I experienced such caged days in Kashmir.”

The protesters are children of stone. Hard, unyielding, refusing to crack. There is generally a sense of amazement, perhaps some awe, about how they just don’t seem to be afraid, about the sheer will to keep coming out, keep challenging the police and the CRPF. One learns that a seven-year-old kid has been pulped to death. No need for bullets. Just lathis and rifle butts will do. One remembers that little scene in Joe Sacco’s Palestine, the little kid in front of the Israeli soldiers in the rain, perhaps wondering if the future can be different, if it can be better. Did the seven-year-old kid have any last thoughts, I pointlessly ask a young cousin. He merely says his friends, youngsters studying for an MBA, an engineering course, someone even a civil services aspirant, have become crazed with anger. ‘How much can the Indian media lie?’ he asks in return.”

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