By: Munaza Kazmi
Between Karakorum Range and the Pir Panjal lies a masterpiece of nature, Kashmir! dazzling with silver lakes, icy mountains covered with lush green Chinar trees that turns the entire valley as a delicate work of art. Kashmir has endowed with incredible beauty that people named it “Heaven on Earth”.
However, how beautifully painted a mirror can be, it surely possesses a dark side. Same is the case with Kashmir, today to be a Kashmiri is the most unfortunate, though Kashmir is said to be a Heaven however it is injustice to say, the Kashmiris are the prisoners of Heaven.
Whereas nature has been immensely kind over the landscape, meanwhile fortune remained ruthless with the inhabitants, or maybe it was always because of the religious differences. First it was Dogra Rule that inflicts brutalities, then after partition on October 27, 1947, Black Day as marked in history, when Maharaja Hari Singh, then ruler of Jummu and Kashmir (J&K), signed a dubious instrument of accession with the Indian government that resulted in 76 years of suffering.
However, later on August 5, 2019 Kashmir witness a paradigm shift in the status when Indian government violated Article 370 and 35(A) that changed everything and created a new series of suffering of the Muslim majority population of the area. According to the Article 370 and 35(A) J&K was granted autonomous status, moreover J&K was the only Muslim majority state within the Indian territory, which makes it rightful part of Pakistan recalling the partition episode. Furthermore, by revoking the status India has not only attacked the Muslim identity of J&K, but the basis of Indian secularism.
However, this secularism was just a word of display since the abduction of rights has been reflected from ages in barbarian acts like curfews, illegal detention, mass rapes, sieges, target killing, disappearances, torture, burning and false encounters. From last three decades more than 100,000 Kashmiris have been killed, 122,771 arrested, 10,086 women have been gang-raped, and 105,996 houses destroyed, is this a secular state?
In Sirinagar it is a common prospect that a person can get arrested without any reason just a hint of silly doubt, the fear curfew, burning of houses, or detention. A mother is not sure if her husband or children will come back to home safe and sound or if she would be collecting their body parts. Many young girls passed their youth waiting for the disappeared husbands, don’t even knowing if they are still married or widowed. Any moment can bring false acquisitions leading to inhuman torture and a life in prison, however I would say whole of the J&K is a deadly prison.
Kashmir continue to be abducted by the Indian government and forces while the world remain blindfolded, there have been peaceful protests in front of United Nation offices all around the world however not a word in their favor. The words remain unheard, and stories untold, if someone voice a bullet is fired to make it silent. Such is the life of the Millions of Kashmiris living in that valley world know as Heaven; The Prisoners of Heaven.
The writer is a travel writer and can be reached at [email protected]