Years ago in our neighbourhood, many small cricket teams had sprouted up. More than the in-field antics the outfield theatrics would be prioritised. The bats should be from a particular brand or should have a particular logo (aka Malik) or the uniforms. The uniforms were a big element of the team branding. It served as a recognition and would give their team a psychological edge over others. For example the team wearing Australian jerseys was seen as a good team. None of them would want to have to have the same clichéd green jersey.
In the England team which often blamed their lose on one player who didn’t pray Fajr This team’s bowling was spearheaded by Javed, famously known as Jimmy Anderson after the lanky English bowler. He had the same run up, and same side on action. He would swing it like his rolemodel speedster.
Months after establishing himself as the Jimmy Anderson of our neighbourhood, he was going towards Nowgam on a scooter. It was his cousin’s wedding, and he had taken up the task of distributing the wedding cards with his cousin on a scooter.
On his way back during the evening near the byepass, he was hit by an Indian Army Vehicle. The intensity of the crash was such that his head was rammed on to the footpath leading to his instant death.
The army fled the scene, and his cousin screamed for help. Death had turned the invitations red not with henna but blood.
Jimmy Anderson was dead; we could never recover from this loss. But he wasn’t the only one.
Over the last 25 years, the Indian Army’s mobilisation into Kashmir has turned into the world’s most militarised zone. The amount of army convoys that ply over the skinny roads everyday is staggering.
Add the terror and fear they bring with, every time an Army trooper whistles. The local reflexes would abruptly halt the car or let the convoy pass. Sometimes invectives are thrown at the natives as thank you notes.
Some days ago, Faisal was killed in a cold blooded murder or a mistake according to the Army, who claim that this is the bravest admission they have made recently. Again, the case was of ‘violating’ the traffic rules of occupation that include halt at checkpoints, turning on cabin lights etc. Honest mistakes are part of the Army culture, 118 bullets later it takes a probe to put a spell into the not-so-keen-eyes-of-world-media.
Just days later, a father-son duo were killed in an accident with the Army truck ramming into their vehicle at a busy boulevard.
Yet another accident by the Army, yet another death, yet another family wailing, yet another probe, yet another condemnation spree, yet another hashtag…yet another day of the occupation.
Death in Kashmir is so cheap that it can give Made in China products a strong competition. The value of a Kashmiri life is so minimum, just 10 lakhs according to the Indian Army.
The fear created by these death convoys is such that many natives desist to drive during the ‘convoy hours’. The conflict has added another rule that is to be obeyed by native alone not the Army which has a forever green-light called AFSPA.
Would these ‘traffic’ accidents end? The administration and the assembly members have unequivocally condemned the act during that time of 6 years when even the Indian state’s joker will have balls to stand up to the military in Kashmir.
It is pertinent to mention Chung Hong-won, the South Korean Prime Minister resigned after the ferry accident. While as these condemnation human-machines will still hold on to their leather seats in the ‘assembly’, and claim to be having conscience (imported from India).
Are these deaths in ‘accidents’ called collateral damage or they are collateral-damage-of-the-collateral-damage? Do these deaths inflate the total number of deaths in this conflict? Or this is just an occupational hazard.
As for Javed. he always finds his way in our memory, every time Jimmy Anderson starts bowling. His uniform is somewhere, which only he could wear.