Lockdown Dairies: Imagining Kashmir from Assam

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Author’s pic from her Assam home

‘But for me the most relatable and turning resonating point with Kashmir and the valley’s people was when back home, my state was enveloped in infinite curfew…’

Rakshanda Afrin

AS a young girl from Assam, which is some 3000 kilometres away from the ‘paradise on earth’, I believe I got too fortunate to actually visit the valley at a very early age as a school kid and spend some days soaking in its pristine allure.

My childhood memories of being there was mostly about the shikara rides in Dal Lake, snowfall and the ‘gandola’ ride in Gulmarg and picturesque landscape and meadows all around me and the valley’s apples and rich cuisines which the young heart relished throughout her stay.

But what stayed with me for long was when one of my neighbours commented that it is our good fortune how our family came back alive from Srinagar.

That time I was too naive to make too much sense about it.

But then growing up my perception and knowledge widened too about how post-1947, Kashmir has rarely been free of controversy ever since.

I still remember once when I was watching a debate on AFSPA and Kashmir running on TV, my father then made me understand how many people from the rest of the country will come and give their opinions on Kashmir but no one tries to humanize the issue but rather focuses on demonizing the entire state.

As a media student, joining the University of Delhi, I came to the realization that everyone who is not a Kashmiri felt they were some expert on the state but would never try to read or understand its ever-changing geopolitics.

I evidently remember about the evening after the Pulwama attacks, when two of my acquaintances hailing from Sopore were asked to vacate their rented house in Delhi as the landlady did not want to risk her life.

It is still hard to reason where their fault lies, or how the prime time ‘nationalists’ TV anchors are always shouting a battle cry against Kashmir.

During my postgraduate research thesis on Article 370, I realised that the decision as claimed by the Modi government is to ‘free’ the people of the valley but whose freedom was it anyway?

The whole country was enveloped in nationalistic fervour and chest-thumping completely delusional by the constant propaganda.

But no one dared to ask basic humanitarian questions like why Kashmir is the world’s heaviest militarized zone till date which has changed the entire narrative of the everyday lives of the ordinary Kashmiri.

But for me the most relatable and turning resonating point with Kashmir and the valley’s people was when back home, my state was enveloped in infinite curfew, Internet shutdown and heavy deployment of Indian forces during the introduction of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill.

If not fully, in some way it triggered in me the feelings of how living in a state of total communication blackout and constant turmoil would be.

  • Rakshanda Afrin is an intern with Kashmir Observer. Studied journalism form Xavier Institute of Communications, Mumbai and University of Delhi, she previously interned with The Citizen and NDTV, where she covered politics, gender and sports.

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Rakshanda Afrin

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