“How long are we going to sustain on our friends’ money or the people who are helping?”Saqib Yetoo, a Kashmiri student from Delhi University

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As the clamp down in Kashmir continues and it has reached the 58th day of repression with no communication possibility left for Kashmiris, a Kashmiri student who studies in the Delhi University questions this uncertainty. Saqib Yetoo, an undergraduate student asks how long are the Kashmiri student community in India will survive on the support system that is currently on.
“I come from South Kashmir, the most volatile area. The situation back home is very bad, very worse, shops are shut, public transport is off the road. There is no presence of people, even if there are private vehicles plying on roads but that doesn’t give you a very good feel. After landing in Srinagar what I felt is there is a strange kind of sadness and numbness, and people feel very frustrated, they feel dejected, there is a sense of theft in everyone.
There are lots of students who are facing hardships, who are facing problems while studying in India and abroad. Their parents are unable to charge their better ground, now students from other states, people, journalists and others have come in support of Kashmiris. Some Kashmiris, non-Kashmiri students & people from other walks of life have formed a community where Kashmiri students can approach them through email and they will ask you to send aadhar details and give the needed amount, if the student wants to pay his/her rent, book the ticket to home. But after all how long are we going to sustain on our friends’ money or the people who are helping? We have to go back and ask our parents who are unable to give us money since this inhumane siege began.
Personally I have taken this initiative of helping students, I have lot of my friends in journalists circles and other professions, be it bureaucrats, politicians, social activists or others. So what I have done is I brought them all together in a single whatsapp group, if someone is in any need, throughout the country, any Kashmiri needs any help, I ask the people in the group. There is another group which we created after the Pulwama attack, when students were kicked out of their colleges, there are many people who are in a position to help them. I usually ask them, look a student is facing problem in Mumbai or Utharakhand or somewhere else, they start contacting their friends from that place. We have our people almost in every Indian state. That’s how I could help people. There are other students organizations, there are community based groups, non-Kashmiris have formed, Kashmiris themselves have formed, those who are abroad, it is this way we help each other.
I want to ask the media, if the educational institutions are shut for 57 days is that any kind of normalcy? Shops are not open, business have collapsed, people are unable to come out of their homes, there are reports of torture from Pulwama, from Shopian, and the nocturnal raids, we come to know from the news reports that youth are being picked up, they have been tortured and very seriously injured by the security forces. Is this normalcy? I mean whom are they trying to fool? Not at least Kashmiris but yes, gullible masses may be, if they believe them. We don’t and that’s clear. We have those news reports in the international media, they reported but sadly Indian media doesn’t. They’ve become pawns in the hands of their masters. I feel very sad that when it comes to reporting Kashmir, our media is biased; there is total contradiction in the reportage when it comes to situation back home. This kind of mindset we have seen taking roots since 2014 itself. The extremism is normalized, extremist elements all over the country are calling the shots. They’re very much free to do whatever nonsense they want. It is a pan-Indian phenomenon. We have seen what kind of an ideological backing they have. What they did to Kashmir shouldn’t be seen in isolation and Kashmir became the target, for, it sends a message, and sadly I have to say that this has happened because may be we’re Muslims. What came to us can come to another state, another community. They’re destroying the democratic and federal structure of India. Today it is us, tomorrow it can be any other state. They can go to any extent for winning elections.
Girls and the women usually don’t discuss regarding their menstruation with the male members of their families. They don’t ask any of them to get the sanitary napkins for them, but since the curfew started, it is highly likely that women will not be able to come out of their homes, go to a pharmacy and buy it. It is very difficult for them since parents won’t allow them to go alone, they can’t send because the situation is not permitting. How do you send a daughter out when there’s an army standing every 500 metres ? It’s very scary. The memories of Shopain and Kunan-Pushpora are still haunting us.
I appeal to the collective conscience of this nation, cutting across age, cutting across profession, whom so ever, to every Indian, that look there is an entire state which has been strangulated for entire 57 days, impress upon the govt. To lift this bloody siege and let Kashmiris express and strive for their rights as are guaranteed to them by the constitution we all abide by. You see, the politicians who had been carrying the Indian flag, who have stood for the cause of India in Jammu and Kashmir, they have been charged with Public Safety Act, like Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Dr. Shah Faesal and other mainstream leaders. They are representing the Indian mainstream politics. Anyone who is joining the electoral politics does represent the idea of India. It is the fact. No one can deny it and you’ve jailed even these leaders. Shrinking of mainstream politics space will give edge and upper hand to extreme elements. Jailing the mainstream political party leaders will only give a free hand to those who are out of this democratic space. They will fill the vacuum. To what extent this will have the ramification I can’t even imagine at this point of time. I don’t know what kind of Kashmir we will witness once the clampdown is over and mainstream leaders are out. This is going to be a very challenging situation. I just hope and pray there are no killings and bloodbath.

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