By Niyati Bhat
(This story is taken from a post published by the author on her Facebook wall)
Is truth lost in the slogans in JNU or is it buried in graves?
February 9 was the day, when Afzal Guru was hanged in 2013 for the crimes he committed.
I don’t know exactly who but some political groups organized a protest against the “Indian occupation of Kashmir, raising slogans for their ‘martyr’ Afzal and condemning Indian state for the militarized occupation of Kashmir” (their words, not mine). It was aptly titled: The Country without a post office.
The woman who was addressing the gathering gave an introduction to the event, suggesting that the Parliamentary left needs to stand along with the struggle of “Kashmiris”
There was an ABVP group standing across the road from Sabarmati Dhaba, protesting against this event.
I walked over to the voices that were screaming: “Hum kya chahte hain, Azaadi!”
I wanted to understand what they had to say.
The crux of the matter was that too many times, human rights violations in Kashmir have gone unanswered, the foreign scholars or journalists who ask these questions are frequently deported, who will be held accountable for the mass graves? Kashmir needs to attain the freedom it deserves. (Again, their words, not mine.)
I stood there in anger.
I am not sure what brought about the courage in me, but I raised the question among this gathering:
“Who will be held accountable for the massacres of Kashmiri Pandits and when you attain the so called freedom, what happens to those Pandits who are also an integral part of Kashmir?”
There was silence and then a poet standing next to me replied,” But that’s not the point of today’s conversation.”
I had nothing to add but just ask: WHY? Because we don’t figure in your account of history?
Again, silence and then someone repeated the Azaadi slogan. I guess they still need some time to prepare answers for us.
Their medium of protest today was Poetry. Poetry was used to talk about Afzal Guru. Poetry! Where was this medium of protest when Poet Sarwanand Kaul Premi and his son Varinder Kaul were brutally murdered and hanged from the trees of their courtyard in 1990?
Why use the medium of poetry to talk about Afzal, who chose violence? What good did his actions bring for his community or for Kashmir?
A journalist from Zee News who was covering the protest took me aside for a news byte and after the camera went off, added: Keep raising these questions.
I couldn’t help but wonder. What is the point of it all; all the protests and all these protests against protest?
There are just too many questions but no one to answer them. And whenever there is one voice in the crowd that doesn’t agree with the rest, it is best to bury it and move on; like the mass graves perhaps.