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Freedom History

I am choosing Kashmir: How a post on Article 370 became a Question about my Morality

Sushmita 06 Aug 2019

The government of India abrogated Article 370 on Monday, in what is being seen as a totally “unconstitutional move” by rights activists, progressive liberal researchers and others.



 "A PEEP OUT OF PAST " a painted relief by Masood Hussain is a very serious creative  work. This relief (uploaded below)  forms the cover of Agha Shahid Ali's Book THE COUNTRY WITHOUT A POST OFFICE 


Last night, after I objected to the problematic and factually incorrect memes being circulated on a family group, I was told that I was “preaching unilaterally”. I had only highlighted the problems in making Kashmir, a state into a union territory and bringing it under the direct purview of the Government of India by abrogating Article 370, the only constitutional provision that actually links Kashmir to India. The decision was taken surreptitiously, while the Parliament session was on, without consulation with the state assembly that had been dissolved last June when the state was brought, inexplicably, under President’s Rule. My objections didn’t go down well, as expected.

Sensing that there was a very real lacuna in how intellectuals and lawyers understand Article 370 and how the people, not so familiar with legal language understand it, I decided to find ways to make it simple for people to understand. I posted some pictures on Article 370 as my Instagram story this morning. These pictures were downloaded from the very credible, well respected social science journal Economic and Political Weekly’s Instagram handle and were simple to understand.

While I was in the middle of a hectic work day with several developments from all quarters, I was surprised by a flurry of Instagram notifications. A childhood friend was messaging me on this issue. He told me, apart from the usual mansplaining that “I value you..blah blah…Don’t dissent just because you have to dissent or you get paid for it. Don’t be this person. I look upto you and I want to. Propaganda cannot become life….” Finding his tone extremely demeaning and disrespectful towards me and my work, I told him, “With the tone you’ve adopted in speaking to me, I don’t feel like answering anything. First start treating other people like equals then speak to them.”

This led to more agitated messages from him. Finally, this person tells me to look at “my f…… relationships, then talk” while also calling me a “self-entitled” woman. Finally, he brags about his 12-year old marriage and comments on how I don’t have a “steady” relationship.

I am shocked beyond my wits. This person was a close childhood friend. I stood up for him when teachers were mean. I spoke up for him and with him during one of his toughest periods of life, undergoing trainings while he was trying to materialise his dreams. We have been in touch on and off for the past 18 years or so. I could not believe that some of the things that I had told him in confidence, at times when I was under a depression, he simply used some of this, or everything to make his point.

I am planning to unfriend and block this person. But this is about more than that.

The abrogation of Article 370 has opened up a Pandora’s box. I already feel a total sense of loss with several very close friends from Kashmir being completely out of touch with their loved ones. I find myself also worrying all night long about one such friend. Moreover, I am concerned how people are surviving the secretive curfew. I am also very worried about what will happen when curfew is finally lifted.

Just before the curfew was imposed, a few hours before the midnight of August 5, my friend told me, “I don’t know when I will talk to you next, so forgive me if I was rude to you. Inshahallah, I will meet you when all this is over.” He also said, “I don’t know what will happen if the Article 370 is amended.” He said that Kashmir wasn’t ready for this, there was panic in his voice and it sounded much grimmer than at other times. In fact, until the time I hadn’t spoken to him, the gravity of what the people of Kashmir were feeling, didn’t quite real sink in, even in my mind and heart. After this last conversation, his phone has been out of reach. As a totally unprecedented move was imposed on the Kashmiri people; a situation of a total blackout and complete shutdown.

I am not sure which other country in the world, with this kind of massive, really massive presence of presence of armed forces, has an enforced kind of a shutdown of this kind; where an entire people, its media, its basic life support systems are blocked. India has really snuffed out the Oxygen out of the Valley in order to plough ahead this move.

One wonders why? As I think of Kashmir, one image comes to my mind. A very dictatorial parent who has shut away their children, locked them up in a house in order to teach them a lesson. The amendment, and the manner in which it has been executed has brought out the worst and most chauvinistic sentiments among the people we knew and loved. And now is the time to choose.
 

I am choosing Kashmir: How a post on Article 370 became a Question about my Morality

The government of India abrogated Article 370 on Monday, in what is being seen as a totally “unconstitutional move” by rights activists, progressive liberal researchers and others.



 "A PEEP OUT OF PAST " a painted relief by Masood Hussain is a very serious creative  work. This relief (uploaded below)  forms the cover of Agha Shahid Ali's Book THE COUNTRY WITHOUT A POST OFFICE 


Last night, after I objected to the problematic and factually incorrect memes being circulated on a family group, I was told that I was “preaching unilaterally”. I had only highlighted the problems in making Kashmir, a state into a union territory and bringing it under the direct purview of the Government of India by abrogating Article 370, the only constitutional provision that actually links Kashmir to India. The decision was taken surreptitiously, while the Parliament session was on, without consulation with the state assembly that had been dissolved last June when the state was brought, inexplicably, under President’s Rule. My objections didn’t go down well, as expected.

Sensing that there was a very real lacuna in how intellectuals and lawyers understand Article 370 and how the people, not so familiar with legal language understand it, I decided to find ways to make it simple for people to understand. I posted some pictures on Article 370 as my Instagram story this morning. These pictures were downloaded from the very credible, well respected social science journal Economic and Political Weekly’s Instagram handle and were simple to understand.

While I was in the middle of a hectic work day with several developments from all quarters, I was surprised by a flurry of Instagram notifications. A childhood friend was messaging me on this issue. He told me, apart from the usual mansplaining that “I value you..blah blah…Don’t dissent just because you have to dissent or you get paid for it. Don’t be this person. I look upto you and I want to. Propaganda cannot become life….” Finding his tone extremely demeaning and disrespectful towards me and my work, I told him, “With the tone you’ve adopted in speaking to me, I don’t feel like answering anything. First start treating other people like equals then speak to them.”

This led to more agitated messages from him. Finally, this person tells me to look at “my f…… relationships, then talk” while also calling me a “self-entitled” woman. Finally, he brags about his 12-year old marriage and comments on how I don’t have a “steady” relationship.

I am shocked beyond my wits. This person was a close childhood friend. I stood up for him when teachers were mean. I spoke up for him and with him during one of his toughest periods of life, undergoing trainings while he was trying to materialise his dreams. We have been in touch on and off for the past 18 years or so. I could not believe that some of the things that I had told him in confidence, at times when I was under a depression, he simply used some of this, or everything to make his point.

I am planning to unfriend and block this person. But this is about more than that.

The abrogation of Article 370 has opened up a Pandora’s box. I already feel a total sense of loss with several very close friends from Kashmir being completely out of touch with their loved ones. I find myself also worrying all night long about one such friend. Moreover, I am concerned how people are surviving the secretive curfew. I am also very worried about what will happen when curfew is finally lifted.

Just before the curfew was imposed, a few hours before the midnight of August 5, my friend told me, “I don’t know when I will talk to you next, so forgive me if I was rude to you. Inshahallah, I will meet you when all this is over.” He also said, “I don’t know what will happen if the Article 370 is amended.” He said that Kashmir wasn’t ready for this, there was panic in his voice and it sounded much grimmer than at other times. In fact, until the time I hadn’t spoken to him, the gravity of what the people of Kashmir were feeling, didn’t quite real sink in, even in my mind and heart. After this last conversation, his phone has been out of reach. As a totally unprecedented move was imposed on the Kashmiri people; a situation of a total blackout and complete shutdown.

I am not sure which other country in the world, with this kind of massive, really massive presence of presence of armed forces, has an enforced kind of a shutdown of this kind; where an entire people, its media, its basic life support systems are blocked. India has really snuffed out the Oxygen out of the Valley in order to plough ahead this move.

One wonders why? As I think of Kashmir, one image comes to my mind. A very dictatorial parent who has shut away their children, locked them up in a house in order to teach them a lesson. The amendment, and the manner in which it has been executed has brought out the worst and most chauvinistic sentiments among the people we knew and loved. And now is the time to choose.
 

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