Some four years ago, when I left Kashmir, I met a Palestinian for the first time in my life. I grew up hearing with Palestine and Al Aqsa, sometimes in protests or sometimes from the elders. I was fascinated with Gaza, which had become a metaphor for resistance. There were many places given sobriquets of Gaza of Kashmir, like the Old City and Maisuma.
When I met this guy from Palestine, he was amazed with the fact that I knew what Khan Younis is, or who Ahmed Yassin was and the difference between West Bank and Gaza.
He asked where Kashmir was? Since he didn’t know where it was or what was the current situation. But he knew there was a place called Kashmir, which went through oppression like Palestine did. I explained to him about Kashmir, over Hummus and Olives that he had got from home.
I have had many such conversations with not only Palestinians but Syrians, Jordanians, Turks and many other countries that I never had heard of. They would always end up in prayers for Kashmir. And thus, with other Kashmiri friends, somehow many people in our university were educated or re-educated about Kashmir.
There were signs that Kashmir had found its way, whenever there was a speech about conflicts, they would mention Kashmir (which usually was skipped). Once in an international conference, one of our professors looked at Kashmir delegates and he promptly mentioned Kashmir as well.
So when I spoke to my Egyptian friends, they were shocked about what was happening in Kashmir. Something that they had never heard of, so one of my friends from Cairo, created this Kashmir Paradise or Hell page to spread the word. We were invited to speak in Cairo, and alhamdulilah Kashmir left an indelible mark on them. Same in other places, even in Istanbul where Summeye Erdogan told me that she expresses her deep support for the people of Kashmir.
You must be wondering why I am writing this. It’s because some friends in Kashmir say they never reciprocate the solidarity we have for them. This is true but it has its reasons.
Over the years, Kashmir’s international ‘advocates’ have never gone for grassroots awareness. Not undermining their ‘efforts’ but their work is responsible for it.
I am sure, and Kashmiris living outside of South Asia have done the same. Had conversations regarding Kashmir with people they have met over the period of time. This is creates a sense of solidarity towards Kashmir. When we last year created the We Are Kashmir Solidarity Campaign, we never expected people in Gaza to have posters of Kashmir with them on the rooftops which maybe or have been bombarded by Israel.
I feel very happy, when my people in Kashmir are showing their solidarity with bigheartedness as Muslim brothers or Humans (choose what suits you).
These protests are not just protests against Israel, they are against all the occupations and tyrants of the world. Solidarity is not a trade-off, but a human emotion called Compassion.
And I am glad that Kashmiris have always been compassionate to people around the world who are fighting oppression and occupation. I am proud when I show people that this is what Kashmiris are, who despite being under oppression have the ability to express support to Palestine and other nations.
We are the people of the Ummah or Universal Brotherhood, and we can’t be stingy with solidarity. And if you wonder why other people don’t show Kashmir the same, then take the responsibility of educating them about Kashmir. At least on the day of judgement, they will not feign ignorance to the Almighty.
Till then, be human.