For someone who isn’t aware about the history of Kashmir, it must be very difficult to understand why the valley of Kashmir experiences long bouts of unrest year after year. We have had 2008 unrest, followed by the 2010 unrest and now the present unrest. Our entire valley has been shut for more than 3 months now. Our mobile phones services remained shut for more than 98 days and our internet continues to be banned. Many people must be wondering how is it that we people, despite knowing about the difficulties we face during these unrests, continue to support them. Some may even deem us as stupid for protesting over atrocities that very few in the world are aware of or care about. But when an entire population agrees to suspend all their operations for as long as we have, not caring about the losses they will face, you should realise that it is because something is seriously wrong with the administration of that place.
A few weeks ago, I along with my family, had gone to Jammu. During our stay there, my two year old as taken seriously ill but we couldn’t get her to a doctor as the entire place was shut due to the ongoing Janamastimi holidays. No parent can watch their kid suffer in agony, so I and my husband tried to look for some sort of medical help for our kid. We were stopped at many places and made to turn back. Meanwhile my child’s condition kept getting worse. She was constantly vomiting and was running a high fever. At one point, I even begged the police officer to let us go through as my child was seriously ill and needed immediate medical attention. His reply however left me shocked. When I showed him my sick child, he said, "Aagay Dhaarmik Kaam Ho Raha Hai. Bache ki bemaari ka bahana mat banao (religious festivities are taking place ahead. Don’t make excuses about your child’s sickness). I didn’t know whether to be more angry or frustrated but I have never felt as helpless and as powerless as I did in that moment, watching my child suffer. If any of you lived in a country where religious festivities were given more importance than your child’s life, wouldn’t you protest like we are?
Anyway, the policeman’s reply made us realise that if we stayed there longer, our child would certainly die from want of medical care so we left for Kashmir immediately. On reaching the Jawahar tunnel, I heaved a sigh of relief thinking since we were almost home, I could get my baby to a hospital immediately but my relief soon turned to despair because we were told that no vehicles were allowed to cross the tunnel from 6 pm to 6 am due to security reasons. Almost in tears, I asked the security guards where we would go for the night with a sick child. He arrogantly replied that he didn’t care where we went but we couldn’t cross the tunnel. I looked at my child’s curled up body and her pale face. My heart told me to scoop her up in my arms and run till I was on the other side of the tunnel but knowing that if I tried any such thing, we would all fall prey to the bullets, I somehow composed myself and decided to look for shelter for the night.
Comfort was the least of our worries since we wanted to stay close by so that we could leave as early as possible but the morning only brought more despair. Instead of allowing us to pass at 6 am like they had promised, the security forces kept us waiting till 9 am without any reasons. Every time we asked them about the delay, all they said was it was for security reasons.
When you live in a country where your identity makes you a suspect, where your name makes you a target for harassment and where your very existence is considered as a threat to security, you can’t help but not protest over such double standards. You can’t help but want to try and fight for your dignity.
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