By: Koshur Mazloom
Hartal ! This is the emotional topic which many Kashmiris love to discuss. A big number of Kashmiri people think that Hartal is the only weapon available to make their voices heard and get their protests registered. But there are some people who love to call themselves as intellectually wise, upwardly pushing and dashing, who always love to trash every call for the protest strike by calling it a harmful exercise done in vain. Their argument against shutdowns is: Economy suffers, Poor get deprived of livelihood, Education suffers, Tourism suffers, People get killed and above all Disturbance of ‘peace’ occurs.
So they come up with the solution: No hartal, no protests and no struggle. Just work, live, eat, reproduce like lizards and keep minds shut for any yearning for dignified life. Cherish the one sided ‘peace’ and carry on with the normal chores of enslaved life. They say, “Enough of bloodshed has taken place. Let us move forward now.” (Towards God knows what).
Good attractive emotional sermons and well thought over points of argument by them.
This write-up of mine is actually addressed to those who oppose the sustenance of struggle by whatever means available with us. Though they criticize every act of defiance by people of Kashmir but they have never come up with a valid, achievable, realistic and sustainable alternative to the shutdowns. But still I want some answers from them.
Where are the answers?

My dear advocates of peace and development,
I respect your sensibilities and am ready to buy your arguments against protest and strikes which are frequently called in reaction to the injustices perpetrated against the innocent people of Kashmir. But, can you please answer my few points before firing your salvos against those who sustain this struggle for Freedom with their own personal Freedom.
If giving peace a chance is the solution of Kashmir issue then who is not giving it that chance. Of course those who call for Strikes do not call for the violence. They just react to a violent act of oppression with a non violent method of protest. It is always the opposite camp which gives reasons to us for these strikes and protests. If you have not deemed it fit to remember, then let me refresh your mind. It was on the 11th of June, 2010 when some Policemen blasted the skull of a 17 years old innocent boy Tufail Matoo by aiming directly at his head with a teargas missile without any provocation on part of the victim. After ensuring that the boy has died with his brain parts scattered all around, Policemen kicked the innocent victim a couple of times before leaving the spot. That boy was just heading towards his home after coming back from his tuitions. What was his crime? What should be the reaction of people after witnessing such a brutal dance of death?
Protest or maintain peace?
Let me remind you further. Prior to Tufail Matoo’s murder three other innocent boys were killed by Indian security forces and the local police. A boy named Inayat was mercilessly killed at Lal Chowk by CRPF, Wamiq Farooq was killed by Kashmir Police at the same place where Tufail Mattoo was killed and Zahid Farooq was killed when a BSF party directly fired at him at Nishat locality of Srinagar. All of these boys were killed without any provocation whatsoever.
Prior to all these killings, three young boys from district Baramulla were taken to the forests of Machil and killed in the cold blood by India army. They were labelled as ‘Terrorists’ and the officer in charge of that ‘encounter’ killed them only to get himself decorated for killing ‘dreaded terrorists’. He, however, planned his action in haste and could not hide the real identity of those whom he killed. This resulted in him getting exposed but not arrested or punished. And prior to these killings someone else somewhere was killed in the same fashion and prior to that someone, somewhere else. This vicious cycle of innocents being killed is not new but an old misery which is not ending at all. Who can break this cycle? Ordinary Kashmiris cannot do anything as those killed are their sons and those who kill are the enemies. Kashmiris can only protest by observing occasional shutdowns as they do not have the liberty of protesting differently. Subjugators simply have deprived them of all other alternative means of protests.

Protest Is A Natural Trait
If a dog is run over by a speeding vehicle on a highway, other dogs protest by barking and running after all the vehicles which pass by the spot of death of their companion. This way dogs protest for hours all together. These are dogs, which are called as stray animals. Any atrocity on any living being does not go un-protested. Even animals like dogs protest and weep at the killing of their companions. This is all natural.
And we humans too react in the way, in which nature has crafted us. Why should we defy our inner feelings by pretending to be insensitive, since protesting against the killing of brethren is quite natural a trait. If you want us to be silent, then you are not a living being. I cannot even call you animals as animals too protest in these situations. I would simply like to call you a stone instead.
Give An Alternative, Please!
Then the argument is, “Shutdowns are counterproductive and hence should not be used as tools of the protest”.
My counter question is, If not shutdowns, then what? Is there any other tool to express your anger against injustices? Kashmir is not New Delhi nor is it Egypt or Tunisia. You cannot come out on the roads and protest in big numbers. You will be beaten, arrested and subsequently fired upon. You too can become a figure in the statistics of death count register. We have seen massacres in the past.
Recalling a few of them: Gawkadal massacre, Zakura massacre, Bijbehara massacre, Hawal massacre, Pathribal massacre, Handwara massacre, Sopore massacre and so on.
Giving Peace A Chance
Argument is, “why protest in the first place. Let there be peace and things will improve automatically.”
Who can say that peace is not good? Peace is after all what we all strive for. But our perception of peace is altogether different from their perception of peace. We want peace through the achievement of our freedom and they want freedom to enforce ‘peace’ through subjugation. We have seen their ‘peace’ blown up into pieces in the past. Kashmir has had a relatively ‘peaceful’ atmosphere for more than 40 years from 1947 to 1989. Did it improve anything? No, it did not. Killings and atrocities happened then as well. Infrastructure did not get developed; Economy, Healthcare and Education did not get any boost either. Tourism too did not shine.
In return, our Ecology suffered, Dal lake shrunk to the half, Aanchar lake vanished, Wular lake started to shrink, our other water bodies became extinct, our forests became subjects of loot and plunder, our glaciers started to melt, our rivers turned into streams. All of this happened during ‘peace’. Kashmir issue too did not find any solution during that ‘peace’.
What fuelled rebellion of 1989 in Kashmir?
Peaceful democratic activity called elections fuelled the tumult. So is their brand of ‘peace’ in Kashmir any solution to all the miseries. Kashmiris were killed while protesting against the hike in power tariffs during 80s or protesting against “Satanic Verses” or protesting against the theft of the holy relic. Is all this ‘fragile peace’ a blessing? Yes, it is a blessing for those who treat Kashmir as their fiefdom. Those who have constructed majestic palaces and golf courses on the banks of Dal lake need this peace to enjoy their comfortable five star luxuries. Those who have slaughtered forests of Kashmir to fill their coffers need peace to flaunt their wealth around. Those who behave like Arab royals riding in highly expensive SUVs and treating whole of Kashmir as their oil field, need this peace to dig for more wealth. As Arab royals have sold their oil wells to their benefactors in the west, same has been done by our own breed of Sheikhs. Whatever is left has been sold to Indians without any objection. We are asked to maintain peace and wait for the development to come but at the same time our institutions are being destroyed. One of our self-made, self-sufficient institutions named J&K Bank too was not spared. It too has been gifted to our subjugators. Our main catalyst of economical development is also under their control now. Our educational institutions have been politicized and centralized. Our healthcare infrastructure is still in pre-historic infancy; our Industrial sector is ailing, our ecology and water bodies are dying which will result in the death of our much talked about tourism industry in the long run. These all things are happening not because of the struggle but because of reasons for which we struggle.
Who Is The Sufferer?
Those who have lost their children, their only bread earners never complain about the emptiness of their bellies. But those who feed their dogs with imported dog biscuits and mutton complain the most.
Why those who are least affected by protests, shout more? Why those who do not offer a penny from their wealth as charity or alms to the poor, all of the sudden become so concerned about the poor?
Those who normally treat ordinary Kashmiris like cattle, start to show concern for the people.
These people do all this because they fear. They fear that the subjugated may succeed in their struggle for freedom and their castles of loot may eventually become bonfires of victory. They do not want to lose their oilfields. That is why they strive so hard to sabotage the just struggle of masses by their hoax concern and hypocritical activism.
Our children are shining in the field of education despite the struggle. During the peaceful days of pre-nineties, securing more than 80% marks was considered as an achievement but not anymore. Our students are securing more than 90% marks in exams; our folks are passing competitive exams with flying colors, our boys and girls qualify for IAS, IFS and KAS exams in good numbers now. We could hardly find anyone during pre-nineties who had qualified in these exams.
What does this suggest? This suggests, education is not subservient to their brand of ‘peace’. It is only subservient to the urge and hard work. Longer agitations can affect schooling but not the education.
Fighting for your rights and freedom requires countless sacrifices, hardships and a strong commitment towards the cause. If you are not ready to offer any of these, then you better stop dreaming about a free life. And if you do not have any urge for living a dignified life in the first place, then no one can force you to suffer in this struggle. But you cannot raise your voice against the struggle either, because living a life of subjugation does not allow you to protest against anything whatsoever. Why do you then protest this? Are you speaking in this tone because you have been coerced to speak or do you belong to the class of our home grown Sheikhs who do not want to lose their oil fields? These are the questions to which we need some honest answers.


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