For the last few days, it seems only a curfew can stand between a bullet and a young gullible kashmiri. Today was one of the better days it seems some tangible property has been demolished . Loss to property is a loss nonetheless but it is not something that cannot be replaced. Loss of life on the other hand happens only once. Some of my earliest political memories I have is of the total apathy of my government as huge chunks of land in my maternal village were swallowed by the mighty Brahmaputra. Huge blocks of land simple leapt into whistling water to create another homeless family. It became a sort of yearly ritual to see people lose everything. It went for years and now the place where I spent many of my happy and innocent days of childhood no longer exists, the roads of that ghost village are only their in some hidden compartment of my memories. At those times, it seemed independence from the beastly creature called India was the only way out. That was the mind of a guy who was less than ten years of age. It seemed the cause of all problems was the occupation by India. I guess I am contradicting myself in this post like I usually do reminiscing about the political leanings of my early childhood. It didn’t help that newspapers were bombarded with reports of how the army and other central para-military forces were harassing the masses. I was given to understand that unified command was a mechanism by which security personal were permitted to rape the relatives of militants who did not surrender.
In those days we were more scared of military than the militants. Militants used to usually kill politicians usually giving us a reason to celebrate. A death of a militant was deeply mourned as that of a family member. One of our neighbours son was killed in an encounter. I was simple overwhelmed by the public outpour of grief on the streets. I was eleven years old. Gradually things began to change or at least my perspective of things changed. Having seen many militants surrender and make millions looting and killing the common man-made me realise there is no difference between the politicians I deride. It was also the time the hypocrisy in me was maturing. I found myself with a brain with better than average processing power and soon made my way out of my birthplace . Now I am a visitor to the place where I learnt to walk, speak and talk. On an average day,, the language I am most likely to speak is my mother-tongue.
Back then even though I hated the government of India, it was kind of perplexing I always supported the Indian team on the field. Maybe my childhood is a perfect example of the fact that you may love your country and hate the government. Since I am writing this post in 2010, its time for me to jump back to the present and write a few words bashing Armed Forces Special Powers Act. I know this generational jump is quite of sync with the title of the post and rather abrupt. But I feel too strongly about this issue to care for anything else. It is not so easy living under the shadow of the gun. It is even more difficult when the people who are there to protect you is the biggest threat to your lives.
Whenever sensible people talk about removing AFSPA, the top brass of army raise a hue and cry, the very same top brass whose corruption is a bigger threat to the jawans than the repeal of this act. I am told today there are twenty security personals for every civilian in Kashmir. They are immune to any criminal proceedings for human rights violation. Some might argue that there is a provision under some act or other but for heavens sake is it really practical. Some argue that our soldiers are already under lots of stress and adding the stress of criminal proceedings is not done. I am too biased and emotionally and psychologically scarred to say something impartial on the matter but I do try to give myself a high moral ground supporting higher wages and better facilities for the soldiers of the nation. I believe RR Patil should be hanged before Kasab for the death of Hemant Karkare. But then I have a lot of beliefs some rational.some nonsensical and some utterly comical.
In the end what I want to say is that we have lost over fifty young man in Kashmir due to stone pelting if at all they were allowed to pelt stones maybe we would have lost a few buildings, a few buses a few cars but it would have been far more preferable.
On footnote : after I have left Assam, the militants started colliding with ministers and killing innocents. I was aghast at the happenings but somehow it was easier to hate them and want them to die than the feeling of despair on being vulnerable at the hands of your supposed protectors.