Recently an unfortunate incident happened in Chandigarh, a union territory of India where a doctor refused to treat a Kashmiri patient citing the reason of stone pelting on Indian troops in Kashmir. In an another shocker, a threat was given to the students of Kashmir in the state of Uttar Pradesh which was displayed on a big hoarding asking the Kashmiri students to leave the state of Uttar Pradesh. Such threats are not new to the people of Kashmir; in fact, they have seen worse than this especially during 90’s when an armed struggle was launched against the Indian rule in Kashmir. The infringe elements across India usually indulge in the acts of bullying the Kashmiri’s without any valid reasons. Despite such provoking incidents the people from the valley live, work, study, and travel across the length and breadth of India, as the Kashmiris have only one option to get connected with the outside world.
During 1992 riots which happened after the demolition of Babri Mosque, a bright student Farhat Razzak of Islamabad (Anantnag) District was murdered by Hindu fanatics while he was coming back to Kashmir. The sufferings and agonies of the Kashmiri students continue at the hands of ultra right wing Hindu nationalists, who are always looking for provoking reasons to harass and beat up the Kashmiri students. If an Indian cricket team loses a match at the hands of Pakistani team, the Kashmiri students usually have to suffer for the defeat. If some skirmish incident happens along the Line of control, the Kashmiri students in India have to bear the brunt of heat for the loss of Indian soldiers. After post-URI and Kupwara attacks in which many Indian soldiers were killed, the Kashmiri students suffered the worst at the hands of Hindu Zealots at various Indian universities and colleges. Many Kashmiri students were forced to sing the Indian national anthem and many were asked to shout anti-Pakistani slogans. This trend of humiliation has increased twin folds after the ultra right wing Hindu nationalist party BJP came into the power. There is no doubt about this fact that the most of the Indian society possesses a mob mentality that’s why we have always witnessed, that whenever some African or a member of minority community gets heckled or lynched by a group of Hindu fanatics nobody from the crowd which are more in numbers than the goons never tries to rescue or save the victims from the clutches of the assailants. Even the policemen on duty watch all such brutality as mute spectators and avoid in rescuing the victims from the mob attack.
In Kashmir, every year lakhs of laborers from various Indian states come to work. Down the years many of them have permanently settled here and few of them have even married the local women. If one goes by the practice of revenge then in response to every heckling and lynching of Kashmiri students in India, should have been responded in the same manner but keeping in view the traditional practices of tolerance and fraternity no outsider has been ever been heckled or lynched in Kashmir. During 2014 floods when these labourers got stuck at various odd places it were the volunteers of Kashmir who besides helping the local population also helped these outsiders, without distinguishing between the natives and the outsiders. The generosity of the Kashmiri’s transcends to everyone irrespective of caste, colour and religion. Every year during Amaranth pilgrimage whenever the pilgrims from India gets stuck in Kashmir due to weather calamities, it is the local population of Kashmir, who always come forward to help these pilgrims, as most of these pilgrims commence their journey free of cost. Keeping in view such traditions of tolerance it was JKLF leader Yasin Malik who once reached to Baltal Sonamarg with food packages and other life-saving items to help the stranded Amarnath Pilgrims.
During my school days, I still remember, when due to the incessant rains the highway got blocked and a lot of Amarnath pilgrims got stranded on the famous K.P.Road of Islamabad (Anantnag). During those days of Governor’s rule, the help from the government side was negligible. Although we have a huge Indian army garrison spreading over thousands of hectors of land, which is located at a nearby hilltop known as Sarnal Bala. But none of the army personals came forward to help these stranded pilgrims nor did they provide them any sort of assistance. Sensing the gravity of the situation, the localities around the K.P.Road arranged the community-based kitchens to help the stranded Amarnath pilgrims. I still remember how many local families welcomed those pilgrims inside their homes and treated them like guests. One of our neighbors hosted a couple from Mumbai along with their driver who was from Jammu city. During those few days every evening my mother used to give me a pot of cooked rice which was collected in a bigger tub in which others also contributed their share of rice. During their departure, a young pilgrim from Mumbai said, “Mei nay puri India mei aap jaisay loag nahi Dekhay hai”(In the entire India, I have not seen generous people like you). His words which were full of sentiments still resonate in my mind.
Few Kashmiri pundit organisations along with some Pundit Chauvinists do not miss any opportunity or a platform where they dehumanise the people of Kashmir. They always spew venom against the general population of Kashmir. These subterfuge minded persons will never tell you how; the local Muslims held the last rites of many Kashmiri pundits who were left all alone by their sons and daughters. They won’t tell the media how the local Muslims helped many Pundit girls by arranging and helping in their marriages. They can’t see how a pundit family is still living with a Muslim family in Pulwama despite the fact when many of the Kashmiri pundits left the valley during 90’s.
People of Kashmir are genetically tolerant and philanthropic in nature. That’s why in Kashmir we have never witnessed any such ugly incident in which a mob lynches a human being and majority of spectators will remain mute as is happening on daily basis in various states of India.
Shafkat Raina is a research scholar based in Kashmir. He can be reached at Shafkatraina@gmail.com