“A referendum should be done, that is the only solution”; A Kashmiri student from Aligarh Muslim University who had gone back to Kashmir

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This article is part of a series of interviews with Kashmiri students in Indian universities, who are facing crucial existential crisis as the clamp down in Kashmir continues. Undergraduate students who are mostly dependent on their parents are the worst affected. Kashmiri students had always been targets of right wing mob attacks and lynchings in India. Almost all the interviews in this series will be published with the student’s identity kept anonymous.

“After the article 370 was abrogated the Kashmiri student community in India and outside India are facing numerous problems, among them an economic crisis is one such major problem. Before this we never faced such crisis. Students of all walks are trapped under this crisis. Students especially under graduates relying entirely on family support are facing hardships since they are mostly dependent on the money their parents send them. After this incident we lost all means of communication with our parents. As the result our savings ended as we are unable to buy basic things. The shopkeepers are refusing to give us basic amenities on credit because of our identity. It is we who know what being Kashmiri means? We are experiencing all tortures, pains and deaths. Our happenings are always taken for granted by the global community. No one is bothered about us. Being students we were hoping for positive response from the whole student community. However the entire Indian student community remained inactive about our crisis.

It seems storms came along with floods and destroyed our whole year’s stock. 5th Aug, will be most fearful day in the valley. I still remember how one old lady passed a tearful voice when I was going to hospital in a public bus quoting her words “putra iz maran”means my son they will kill us today. Our each day begins and ends with pain. Our socio-economic conditions are deteriorating day by day. It seems prime motive of the present day government to backwash economy and all forms of development in Kashmir. Hatred is widespread against Kashmiris. If anything happens in Kashmir, students and merchants staying outside become the victims. Let me talk of Pulwama attack Kashmiris were dragged out everywhere and at many instances `placards were found with statements “Dogs are allowed but not Kashmiri”. We are either given the label of terrorists or the label of stone pelters. We as the community have to face these problems.

Problems after Communication clampdown

My mother does not know whether I reached Aligarh or not. She is hoping and praying to Allah for my safe reach. Due to lack of communication we are facing disturbances and this disturbance reached at par when earth quake halted Kashmir. Recently one of the students who are doing BA in political science wrote a letter to his parents in order to get some money from them. But he does not know how post man will reach his home. It is we who struggle; it is our family and not those who are in AC rooms. We have many things to say to our motherland, we are with our people; we stand by them. Everything remained untold after article 370 was abolished followed by complete communication barrier. We were not unable to communicate any of our problems to our parents nor are we are able to hear their voices. So far the university’s other students are concerned, they didn’t take this issue seriously. They are looking at Kashmiri students like thieves passing comments why they are throwing stones at our security forces in Kashmir. Ignoring the ground realities, what is happening inside Kashmir, it is only we who knew that? During night, if a simple noise comes from outside the house our heart beats beyond normal. We know it the army has reached in our premises for picking us and we will be pushed into army vehicle. We are worried about these things. And when all these things are happening around us, we are prone to anxiety, depression and what not. So far as the administration or state authorities are concerned they are added fire against Kashmiri. They have not taken any steps to help us. In Kashmir they have activated land lines, situated either govt. offices or the police stations. It is difficult for women to visit police station to make phone calls. I was in Kashmir during this curfew and it was urgent for me to call my friend but the policeman refused to give a chance for dialing my number because of my belonging to a particular. He kept me waiting almost for three hours and said we have no network you can now leave. This is what they did with me for a single phone call. Every inch is occupied by security forces and check points; it is very difficult to cross them. Somehow we managed to get curfew pass from the local police station but when we come with the curfew pass the security forces say that this is not our curfew pass, you should get a curfew pass from the CRPF camp. Everyone is very scared to go to camp, because it is not known whether we will return back or not.

Apart from that if you look at the academics in Kashmir, there is complete academic loss in Kashmir. I know my cousin who was preparing for GATE, he didn’t know whether the application form has come or not. When I came here and checked, I came to know that last date is today  (24-09-2019). Under such circumstances how students will prepare for competitive exams, NET and other exams are coming, but they don’t know anything about the notifications. In this regard, I think we are moving to a situation that we had witnessed during the Dogra period where Kashmiris were dying in starvation, I think the same thing is coming in Kashmir and we are moving in the same direction. Cycles of poverty will become wide and it would be very difficult for us to overcome. One more thing is how they will adjust additional security forces? Are they planning to relocate poor villagers for the establishments of camps? in order to suppress the oppressed, so that they can have more power over the subjects to oppress Kashmir. Kashmiris have no alternative except to resist and get martyred. That is the only thing Kashmiris can do.

We are of the hope that UN will someday bring solution to Kashmir problem. But when we look at the ground reality, it seems that UNO is powerless. The day India and Pakistan got separated the problem of Kashmir began and still it remains. If these countries wanted to stand with Kashmiri people this issue might have been solved once for all. But what they are doing, playing with our blood. Every day we lost huge human capital. We have a hope and smell of independence and that is not far from us. World need to intervene in Kashmir issue with zeal. Respect our struggle. As far as the solidarity is concerned, certain states enjoy special status and they should join hands with us because today they declared our status null and void, tomorrow it is their turn. When special status of Kashmir is targeted they will target other states as well in near future. So it is the right time to stand collectively on behalf of Kashmiris. If they can’t help the Kashmiris they should not hurt Kashmiris by celebrating the victory on the oppressed.

If you look at initial days section 144 CRPC was imposed throughout the valley. No two individuals were allowed to move together. Although Kashmiris followed the civil disobedience movement, they are not showing any aggression towards the security forces deployed on the roads but if you look at some areas that are highly stone pelting areas, they are completely under tight curfew and complete surveillance. There is no relaxation of curfew at most places. When I was at home ambulances with serious patients were not allowed to move. Still they say everything is normal; abnormality has become normality for them.

If you look at the impact of this curfew it affected every sphere, be it business, be it administration, and be it health. When there are no medicines what the doctors can do in the hospital? When there are no vehicles, when there is no public transport how can a patient living in a remote area reach the hospital? And how can a poor feed his family in the absence of work? That is the big problem. The sad fact is that they are saying everything is normal but that is not the case. Youth arresting is the order of the day but they hide the statistical data. The reality has become hyper reality. They are not showing what is happening on the ground. That is too far from the media. What they are showing is not the really that is happening inside Kashmir, in fact they are showing that had happened some ten years ago.

To the student community, to the people of India

We should believe first we are humans, after that comes whether we are Indians or whether we are Kashmiris. Today when something is happening, anything wrong anywhere in the world, we should at least understand the one who are becoming the scapegoats. The conflict is best known by the one who experience it. It is not known by the people who are sitting at the home and who have never seen the cruel face of the army. It is we people who know what the conflict is. It is creating psychological problems. At home once I was on the road side, I saw a kid who was trying to play but there were no other children who could accompany him then he was giving slogans, “Allah ke nam pe de de”, this is the psychology of our children and this is our future, a future with different disorders. Fifty days passed, schools are shut down, hospitals are not functioning well, everything is closed, under such circumstances children have to become house arrested. There is only one option the children who wants to play would indulge in things that would be harmful. When these students sit at home, they are away from basic education which is a fundamental right. All rights are violated in Kashmir. A referendum should be done, that is the only solution. It will show whether the people wants independence, or be with India or be with Pakistan. This is the only fact and this is the promise they have kept with Kashmiris. To conclude I say this, apart from human killings, our birds are dying of starvation…

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