Whose flag is it anyway? 

ajk-flag.jpg

The recent media hysteria over the two flags issue inflated by the powerless unionists in Kashmir is a stale recipe that always shows itself. Somehow the Indian Media always finds issues to somehow impose their rabid narrative on Kashmir. Most of these narratives are blatant propaganda equipped with flashy montages and fake accents. The fact check or intelligence of these ‘journalists’ goes for a toss. 

 

Over the past week it has seemed like the two-flags i.e one of the Indian state and another one of Jammu Kashmir is the only bone of contention. With the JK High court ordering the Jammu Kashmir flag to be made mandatory on all government buildings and vehicles. While as wannabe Bill o’ Reillys try to equate this issue parallel to the Azadi and in fact one of them even equated Omar Abdullah to a ‘separatist’. This goes to show that despite the services rendered by the unionists to the Indian state, the mistrust for them in indian intelligentsia persists. 

 


The Jammu Kashmir flag which is described in the Section 144 of the Jammu Kashmir constitution, the upholders of this constitution are bound to hoist it on their offices and official cars. The flag has three staffs and a plough with red in background, this is basically the National Conference flag adopted in 1939 known as ‘Albe’an’.


The flag takes its inspiration from the communist movement due to Sheikh Abdullah’s communist leanings that also led to the land resettlement bill to uproot feudalism. It was given constitutional sanction by the 1952 constituent assembly that also ratified accession of Jammu Kashmir with India, which was later dismissed by a UN resolution in 1956-57 saying that constituent assembly cannot replace the plebiscite.

 

On the other side is the prominently featured Azad Kashmir flag which was created in 1947-8 by a large section of people at Muzzafarabad during the first Kashmir war. According to AJK Supreme Court Justice Yusuf Saraf, the flag was inspired from the Pakistani and American revolutionary flag.



Symbolically the flag represents many aspects of Azad Jammu and Kashmir:


Three Fourths green background representing the seventy five percent Muslim population of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. One Fourth Orange (Gold) color represents the twenty five percent minorities of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. 


The Green stripes represent the Valley of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.The White stripes represent the snow-covered mountains of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.The Crescent is the usual semblance of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. 


This flag was adopted by Azad Jammu & Kashmir on 24th September 1975. The flag was adopted by the passing of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir State Flag Ordinance, 1975 by the then president, Sardar Mohammad Ibrahim Khan.


Sardar Ibrahim was the first barrister of Kashmir, who led the 50,000 volunteers in Poonch to fight against the Dogras and later the Indian Army. This war against Dogras happened on 17 October 1947, before the tribals came into Kashmir. That’s a discussion for later on. 

 

It was substituted by the late Sardar Abdul Qayoom Khan in 1970s when he became the head of Azad Kashmir. Later Qayoom’s flag was abrogated and the old flag was brought back on to the top of government buildings and official cars. 


Liaquat Ali Khan, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, Choudhary Ghulam Abbas Khan, Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah and host of international leaders have saluted this flag. It is also included in the United Nations record.

 

In the late 20th century, this flag has been hoisted by various Kashmiri leaders in exile. It was on the desk of the legendary Dr. Ayyub Thakur and JKLF offices around the world. 


This flag is spotted in many Pakistani cricket and hockey matches wherever there’s a significant population of Kashmiri diaspora especially England.  It’s also waved during pro- Kashmir protests around the globe.

 

For many years, Kashmiri intellectuals and activists have had many discussions about having a single flag for Jammu Kashmir. There have been yahoo groups, facebook pages and other forums dedicated to creating a flag. Does Kashmir have a flag of its own?

 

 

On 13 July 1931, the people of Srinagar marched to the central jail in solidarity with Abdul Qadeer who was charged with sedition by the Maharaja. During the protests, over 22 Kashmiris were martyred by the Dogra forces. Amidst a lot of wails and screaming, the martyrs were laid to rest after Mirwaiz Yusuf requested for their burial at the Naqshbandi sahab. In that moment, some ordinary Kashmiri hoisted a bloody red shirt on a stick and waved it. This became Kashmir’s first flag of resistance. 

 

 

The Jammu Kashmir flag making media bytes has very little significance for ordinary Kashmiris, who see it as a part of Indian state. The flag is the last legacy of the autonomous Kashmir for which Sheikh Abdullah shook hands with India. It is a form of nostalgia for National Conference supporters, a party that has been spearheading the exploitation of the people. The thrust made to signify this flag as a form of ‘separatism’ is a narrative to create confusion among the people. 


In fact the rabble-rouser Engineer Rashid even had a flag hoisting ceremony some time ago. Without any awareness of realities of this symbol, many gullible Kashmiris even stood up to the icon of our cruel oppression.

 

It becomes important that Kashmiris are educated of their own history not through chastisation of delirious Indian media. As far as the flag of Kashmiris is considered, the bloody shirt has seen many a hoisting over the last two decades. 


This recent interest in this collaborator approved  flag that’s a symbolic acceptance of Indian occupation is all but to befool people especially Kashmiris to invoke in them a false sense of pride and identity with it.


Maybe we can design our own. 


Published on Kashmir Reader  on January 5th

We can be friends, if you become our allies in the struggle. 

They ask us, why do Kashmiris go to India to study and work. They ask us to see India’s growth and development. They remind us of their GDP numbers, the trade percentage and all that financial numbers. 

They love us but behind the garb of this duplicity they take a dagger and stab us in the back. Their love will never understand what an occupation means, because they don’t live under one. Under their hypocritical nationalism, they can’t ask their killing troops to come home. 

They won’t protest outside the headquarters of the army, and demand punishment for their crimes. They won’t protest in the streets and carry “End the Indian Occupation”. But they sure will under the garb of justice, indianise our struggle, as an internal matter. 

I don’t hate Indians, and I have no reason to love them either. Neither I’ll ever ask them to give their attention to us, cos not only is their nationalism hypocritical but also they are morally corrupt. 

If you don’t have an established record of critique of our oppression, don’t go around with criticism of our resistance. 

As far as jobs and working in India goes, the day you take your troops home. We won’t need to be in the sweltering heat and hate of Indian state. We will be free.

We may not be the richest nation of the world, but surely we will be free. And their is nothing more worthy in the world than that. We may not be the world’s superpower, but for sure the warmth of returning home without the fear of occupation, will be powerful enough. 

Keep your love and sympathies with you. If you want to support Kashmir, become our allies. Solidarity with Kashmir means demanding end of the occupation, and supporting our right to political destiny, to be independent. If you’re ready to do that. We can be friends. 
Salam
Note: There are many Indians who are our allies in the struggle, this is not for them. We love them. Like our friends and neighbours.

Kashmir needs more than your Facebook status — Mouris Bashir 

  “In a society constructed to keep you down, carving out a means by which you can survive might just be the most direct action of all.”

 I don’t write Facebook notes. If I want to pen down my thoughts about a certain situation, I will send it to a newspaper or put it on my blog but almost all newspapers of Kashmir don’t like my writing (or me). Apparently, I criticize them too much on Twitter. So I knew they won’t publish it and my blog is like me, we like to stay quiet, and I want people to read this, especially ones this is directed at. I wrote something fairly short last week on why it’s unfair and counter-productive to dismiss ‘activism of stone pelters and people who are from disadvantaged backgrounds as quickly as a small section of Kashmiri society often do.  I am angry. Very angry. Not at the Indian Army. They have a job, which is to safeguard India’s imperialistic ambitions and they will go to any extent to achieve that and they have. I am not angry at the Abdullahs or Muftis because we know who they are and what they represent. My anger is against people who are educated and privileged, people who really don’t have much to lose if Kashmir keeps burning but if Kashmir sides with India, seems they will lose everything or this is what they portray through their tweets and Facebook statuses. 

It’s not a case of being for or against an occupation that will always exist regardless, but of being for dignity and security in our day to day life and against the exploitation of the vulnerable country side population, as most of the atrocities committed on them go unreported. While Delhi based policy-makers and government had an obvious role to play in enshrining our rights, individuals and families also have a responsibility to ensure that the voice of all these people are heard. They all failed to do any justice to their roles. 
Last night a friend liked a status of someone called Javaid Trali, I had had heard of him. Of being a ping-pong for PDP and Jamaat Islami during PDP’s election days. Or maybe that was not true. My friend is just like me, so I was surprised to see she liked something out of our liking zones. I clicked on the status and a quick glance of his Facebook account and others like him who had applauded him for being a voice of reason and sanity, one thing was consistent. They were critiquing what was happening on the ground and blaming anyone but India and their army for this. They critiqued it in 2010 too. Since then 5 relatively peaceful years went by, and a couple of elections too but nothing changed on ground. 

It made me wonder that why these people did not sought a solution of Kashmir during this time. Or even laid a framework of how they can establish peace and bring stability to this region. Every time Kashmir rises to challenge India’s might, these kind of people spring up from nowhere and start critiquing. NOT A SINGLE PERSON HAS PRESENTED AN ALTERNATE SOLUTION OR FORM OF PROTEST. 

A good thing would have been to accept that the PDPs and NCs are at fault too and they could have rendered an unconditional apology on their behalf. So 6 years of doing nothing, they suddenly have found their voices and are out critiquing everyone and everything that does not fall in line with their interests and ambitions. It is great to be ambitious, I was too. So was Burhan. So were these 55 people whose dreams are now just a dinner table conversation for their family and friends. And the other 100,000. 

From 2002-2008, Kashmir was as peaceful as a mushroom on the mount. I am still waiting for their Tweets asking the PDPs and NCs questions on why they could not solve this imbroglio during this phase. They won’t. They are the ‘ubarte howe neta’ types. They would not risk their careers.  
Coming back to Javid Trali. I agree that small traders are suffering because of no business. But since when did he become their representative? The tragedy of this uprising is that how small traders and people who earn their wages on a day to day basis are and have been at the forefront of the Azaadi movement, not from 2010 or 1990 but from 1931. And they have never complained. They were angry at Geelani and co. for abruptly ending the protests in 2010. Because it is simple. 

The only people who are deeply affected by Indian occupation is them. Not the likes of Trali who enjoys the perks of being a collaborator or Junaid Mattu or Saadut Hussain. I come from a fairly wealthy suburb, I am yet to meet an uneducated young person in my locality. 13 of them have PSAs slapped on them though. But they still want to go out because we all lived through the humiliation of 1990s and we know that our future generations should not have to face the same. 

Like our elders are apologetic to us for not taking the movement to its logical conclusion, we don’t want to get older and when there’ll be other outrages, other deaths and do the same, apologise for not solving this for them and avoid ending up old and weary and apologetic. It’s our duty and responsibility to at least think and fight for a free nation for them. 

Maybe we will succeed, maybe we won’t. But at least we won’t have to look at their dead bodies and think “what if”.

My dad was a government employee and I studied abroad. Easy targets for collaborators to sow division among us. Among the likes of me and Kashmiris protests on ground. In 1990s there were months when my dad and other government employees didn’t get paid for the work they did. Often travelling to work to remote areas where Ikhwanis were on prowl. They survived. We all survived somehow. 

I wonder why no one bothered to mention that. PDPs and NCs want young Kashmiris to be entrepreneurs and not look for government jobs, because there is scarcity of jobs. So Tweets and FB statuses like this creates a commotion. The only thing vulnerable young people will take out of this is that Government job is the safety net. Go and chase that.

 So every Kashmiri will become dependent on a government sponsored by Indian state and when you’re dependent on anybody, anything can happen. You all are intelligent people, so connect the dots. It is propaganda.

 I have a theory that you can measure how bizarre or morally dubious something is by trying to explain it to a small child, or a proper grown-up, and monitoring their reaction. My theory was tested the other day when I found myself trying to explain the term “azaadi” to my colleague, who incidentally hadn’t heard of the actual ground situation and would go onto repeat Arnab Goswami, that why are we pushing our young generation into this. Rather than sending them to schools. Well the generation that grew up in 90s, two out of them topped IAS exams in last 5-6 years. Educating our next generation is not our worry but how to keep them safe, keep them alive is our priority. 

My mind goes back to 90s. Education was not a big priority then as it is now but we would still go to school when the army or the situation allowed, but we loved freedom. We wanted Azaadi. No one forced us to do whatever we were doing. In 2008, when the fire of freedom and belief was reignited after a hiatus, I was a mere 10 metres away from Sheikh Aziz when he was martyred near Tzahal, 20 Kilometres from Baramulla. The people around me were not poor or uneducated. 

I am talking about people who can buy out few of these collaborators and then throw all of that down the drain like it was a stale food in the fridge( They actually are stale food of our Kashmir’s fridge). The elites, the rich, the educated, everyone was there. What worries India and its intelligence agencies now is how the movement has been streamlined by the younger generation. 

They were off the opinion when the fight for Azaadi started that let us burn their towns, their homes, kill their young people, rape their women and beat them into submission. They were happy when the 2002-2008 happened. They had thought they had Kashmir in the back. So many people thought what they thought. 

It all changed in August of 2008, the summer uprising that year changed the dynamics, loyalties and the ground reality. The movement had never died. India had tried everything. They were scared when for the next 3 years, few thousand stone pelters stood to the might of Indian power. They were embarrassed and they realised that what they were against. But since then India’s intelligence agencies have done a commendable job. They have managed to buy some people. 

People like Trali, Mattu and Hussain. People who used social media during 2008-10 to propel their own careers. People who would be pro-Azaadi before 2010, are so anti now. If the explanations are as poor as we won’t survive independently. Stone pelting won’t yield anything. Poor people are dying on ground etc. Stone pelting has yielded a lot. Aren’t India now worried more about stone pelters than the men with guns? Poor people died in 1990s too. They died in 1931 too. In 1947 too. In 2010 too.  It is like saying stay married to an abusive husband just because he can provide for you. You will starve if you part from him. What about the fact that she will finally enjoy her freedom, no more abuses, no more humiliation and use the peaceful time to find a way to not starve. It’s about empowering people and not enslaving them. Can’t we do that? If circumstances have taught us anything it is that we teach life. Curfewed for days and we still manage to survive and live. And frankly speaking, everyone seems to have underestimated our potential be it our water resources, our forests, our tourism and our handicrafts. I forgot Horticulture too. 

Maybe we won’t be the richest nation. Maybe we will have corruption. Maybe there might not be enough jobs. But can someone tell me what is different now? There is job scarcity. Foreign investment is zero because of the situation and once it improves do you think that foreign investors will shy away because of reasons that no one bothers to give. If we don’t have an exit plan as they claim, do they have a plan that ensures peace and prosperity will last in a country where the failure to see humanity constantly is death. 
I will still take 1 day of being poor but free over a 10000 days of being rich but occupied. For the collaborators, well one thing is sure, they will be the ones who will benefit a lot from an azad Kashmir. Because the poor, they’ll have to build their lives from scratch while these collaborators have amassed so much that it wouldn’t bother them. So I am asking again, stop worrying about us and start contributing and if you can’t then as my mom says if you can’t say anything good, shut the hell up.

It’s sadly ironic then, that they’re so intent on tearing down these protestors for imagining that an Azaad Kashmir is possible when they might just be the group that needs solidarity the most.   

The really progressive thing to do, rather than deriding ‘these protestors’ or labelling people who write on social media as lazy and stoking fire, would be to move towards a definition of protest which sees all contributions as worthy; where the end goal is just one desired outcome and the participation of people however they are able is a success in itself. 

After all, in comparing those with the relative comfort and privilege to jump into direct action at will with those for whom everyday existence is an act of defiance in itself, it seems absurd that it should be the latter who are labelled ‘mob’. 

Crown of India and other bullshit taught in my school 

​I remember in school, to my question on Kashmiri Independence, the teacher would often give me the explanation of

“Look at the Indian map, if we take out Kashmir, it will become ugly and the map wouldn’t look good” or “Kashmir is like India’s Crown, if you had a crown would you take it off.”

No factual analysis, no documents to support the facts. But since we were kids, we are supposed to accept whatever was told. 

I knew that it was just bollocks, but the way these answers would be repeated in class would just make me angry. How our own teachers are cheating us off our own history. 

Or the two sentence mention of Kashmir acceded to India after tribals invaded. “Maharaja kya karta woh majboor hogaya” (the Maharaja was left with no other option). 

So like always I would find answers in the crackdowns as a little boy, why Kashmir wants freedom. I know our elders thought that “this is not your thing, go study or play” but in that quietness, I would observe and listen. 

So much so that I was banned from going to the Bakers in the morning, cos I would give my turn to others as I wanted to listen more of our history. 

Few months ago, I went back to the same school where some teachers would make a fool out of us all. In one of the first classes, I asked them about Kashmir’s history. To my surprise, I heard “India is a democracy and if people fight obviously they would kill.” I was shocked, and saddened in that minute of silence.

Until one girl in her teens gets up and says “Sir, she’s talking nonsense, the psychological warfare is working well on her but not us”, another boy stands up and “it is the Indian occupation of our country, if we do not fight we are not human beings”. Another girl echoing from the last row, “Sir, we want freedom that’s it”  and quickly sits down. 

I had a lump in my throat by the end of the class. I went home passing through the old streets where I would pedal home. Our new generation knows and they know well. 
As much as it makes me sad that the fifth generation of Kashmiris have lost their childhood to the occupation, it swells me with pride that our resistance has found a new home, among the young.