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.