Rejecting all the hard working and young achievers who the state is celebrating seems to be the new discourse in Kashmir. Do not be surprised by the obvious result of such pattern. More and more young and hardworking people with either leave Kashmir or hate Kashmiri community for rejecting them despite their individual achievements. That is what we are heading towards, these days. And, one day we might wake up and say that our strategy was wrong, we have alienated our own people, let’s make a U-turn. That day, it might be too late.
A new pattern to reject individual successes is emerging where-in we call some collaborators, and others irreligious. We have also started trivializing the achievement of your youth by our conspiracy theories. She topped the exam because India wants to buy us, all. I am not saying that it can’t happen, what I am saying is that why are we demeaning the hard work and success of our own youth? Another message which we are unfortunately sending to young Kashmiris is that we will only celebrate them if they lay down their lives!
Are we collectively on drugs?
I saw the new Jammu &Kashmir Bank calendars being burnt, on social media. It made me pity those who did so. How would you have felt if your or your child’s picture was on the calendar that was being burnt? It is obvious that it’s beyond repair if one’s child is blinded by pellets or bullets but one needs to ask, how can rejecting the people who have achieved individual success on the dint of their merit and hard work, help the injured children, or any discourse, for that matter?
One can stand against the appropriation of the individual success by the institutions without rejecting the young achievers. We need a diverse community. We need cricketers, actors, architects, scientists, researchers, civil servants, politicians, theatre artists, painters, singers, pilots, air-hostesses and stewards; not just doctors and engineers. Individual success is necessary and we must not target an individual or their success. We understand that politicization of individuals is inevitable in a conflict region but there are multiple ways to counter any such politicization.
For instance, make as many parallel calendars as one wants. I already saw a contractor’s calendar with Burhan Wani’s picture on social media. Let people decide which calendar they want in their homes. Then there is Association of Parents of Disappeared People (APDP) who have the calendars with the photos of disappeared people in Kashmir with the poetry of Kashmiri poets translated into English. I personally love those. Let us have multiple narratives without targeting and labelling each other as it is only the community that shall be harmed and will lose people by such mindless criticism.
Zaira Wasim, the 16 years old girl who acted in Amir Khan’s Dangal came out with an apology for hurting people of Kashmir. Why? Not just because she met, the Chief Minister but also because she is acting in movies. Before her meeting the chief minister, I came across people on social media comparing her with Insha and some who were discussing how her acting is against religion. Firstly, Insha did not choose to lose her eyesight. We as community must ensure that she studies further (may be using Braille system of education). Technology has advanced enough in the world that Insha can continue her education, if some resourceful people in the community ensure it. The politics over her loss of eyesight due to pellets should not come in way of her education. Not just Insha, we must think of many disabled children who due to minor disabilities cannot receive education. Is there not a need to set up fully functional schools for blind, deaf, dumb children and children with learning disabilities? Should this not be the priority of the community, through either voluntary sector or advocating for the same in the government sector?
Secondly, as far as punishing the people who injured Insha, let some organization pursue that but Insha cannot wait meanwhile. Her education and wellbeing cannot suffer further. Zara’s acting in Dangal on the other hand did not cause Insha’s disability. It is just two young girls struggling to live their dreams in a highly conservative, patriarchal and conflict-ridden society, where everyone will utilize both these girls for their political agendas whereas what they need is to be helped, encouraged and owned as kids. And I am talking about all young Kashmiri girls, not just one. I am also talking about Tajamul Islam, 9 years old who won sub-junior World Kickboxing Championship in Italy in November 2016. She was also pulled into controversies. A 9 years old girl, for god’s sake.
Girls face more opposition and difficulties in achieving success and more than often, parochial narratives of culture and religion are also used to lower their morale. Let the youth know that their community will flourish when they become achievers and become examples for others in the conflict-torn community.
And let the community know that, acceptance not rejection is the key for any community based movement. Be progressive or rot.