Diary of a Scarred Week

July 08, 2016, 11:25 PM

What Is Dead May Never Die

I must go back briefly to a place I have loved

to tell you of those you will efface, I have loved

Tonight I can write the saddest lines. Tonight I can sing the songs of freedom in a full crescendo. Tonight the heaven will pour the blessings of Azadi. Tonight we are free.

I was on phone with a friend when she broke the news of Burhan Wani’s martyrdom in a village in Kokernag. I immediately switched on the television and checked on Indian news channels. What I saw numbed me for an entire ten minutes. I frantically made calls to journalist friends; struggling with hope that it wasn’t true. It was. They had killed him in an ‘encounter’ in Kokernag.

Numbness doesn’t go away. It’s suffocating to hear the loud proclamations of news anchors on Indian TV channels, describing it as a victory for its ‘jawans’. I want to get rid of this suffocation. I ask a friend to meet me outside. We meet and proceed towards Jamia Masjid. People are slowly assembling at the square. It’s a mass of people. The mass palpitates with anger; a subdued anger of the sort a martyr’s death evokes. Slogans pierce the tense air.

A row of mourners forms itself. We prepare for the final prayer. More rows are formed. Burhan is bid farewell amidst tears. The mass gathers itself into a procession. The first slogan of Azadi is proclaimed.

Burhan Wani was martyred with two of his men. The pictures of three martyr’s show an uncanny resemblance to all the pictures of martyr’s I have seen my entire life. They look like warriors. For his father in Tral, he simply waits for his son’s draped body to arrive. I saw his picture before they shutdown internet. He looks on a mobile phone which displays a picture of his son, minutes after his death at the hands of Indian occupational forces.

The funeral procession swells into a moving mass. Slogans pour life into the swelling crowd. The heart of the city throbs with the slogans of Azadi, of martyrdom; of the eternal life of a martyr. The heart sings and cries in unison. Few sobbing voices render sombreness to the crowd. The crowd sings:

As salaam as salaam

Aey Shaheedo as salaam

Aaj teri mout pe

Rou raha hai asmaan

Rou rahi hai ye zameen

Rou raha hai asmaan

The funeral procession gathers momentum. It proceeds towards Gojwara and turns left towards Rajouri Kadal. The procession traverses the same path on which, six summers ago, Tufail Mattoo was shot dead.

Memory is a procession. Memory swirls with anger and more slogans reverberate the tense air. I and my friend join in the sloganeering of Azadi. A new slogan emerges:

Hum kya chahtey… Azadi

Sajad dyutnai… Azadi

Naseer dyutnai… Azadi

Burhan dyutnai… Azadi

The word dyutnai translates to ‘offered… offering’. The slogan performs remembrance. It converses with the future of Kashmir, with Azadi and remembers those sons of Kashmir who have offered themselves to Azadi – to that dream of freedom and of life with dignity. The procession was conversing with Azadi, it went on… Tufail dyutnai.

Funerals of martyrs in Kashmir are an endless procession of memory against the fog of occupation. Funerals of martyrs speak less of mourning, but more of defiance of memory. Burhan’s funeral procession glorified not just the memory of this handsome martyr, but through remembrance of other slain comrades brought the essential core of Azadi to the pitch – Azadi is a collective struggle, not an individual one.

Not a policeman was in sight till the procession reached Rajouri Kadal Chowk. They too must be remembering Burhan, albeit in a different manner. I later learned Anantnag police had provided the information to the Indian armed forces. Burhan Wani saw them as our people and warned about the dangers of collaboration. Father says only mukhbiri (collaboration) is responsible for Burhan’s death. “He must have been given away by a Kashmiri mukhbir.”

If only you could have been mine

what would not have been possible in the world

The procession defeats the sadness of Burhan’s death with the slogan Tum kitney Mujahid maaro gey, har ghar se Mujahid nikley ga. Burhan’s procession adds more people as it traverses the alleys of downtown. Night is sparkling with the light from a burnt tyre.

I learn another new slogan during the procession.

Bharat tera eik ilaag… Inquilab… Inquilab

It started raining an hour ago. The sky is crying tonight. Aaj teri maut se rau raha hai aasmaan. The slogan predicted the skies crying, weeping on the death of a martyr. It rains as I write this.

At his home in Tral, it must be a Jashn tonight. The celebration will extend deep into the night. Mother desires to go to Tral, to sing the farewell songs for the departed son.

Shaheed ki jau maut hai.. Wo qaum ki hayat hai.

I am writing this with an overpowering sensation of reducing the beauty of our suffering with my feeble words. Suffering is so complex tonight. I am writing this under the dim light of a candle. Electricity has been gone for close to two hours now. Our lives are under a clampdown.

I wish to be in Tral tonight. Kashmir is Tral tonight. Burhan’s father on learning about his son’s martyrdom is reported to have said, “I was waiting for this day. Tonight I will look at my son after a long, long time.” Kashmir is Burhan tonight.

The night is silent and dark. It has stopped raining. Will Kashmiri men ever stop dying at the hands of a brutal regime? How many more deaths? Mother asks. Our history is a pile of dead people, the pile getting larger and larger.

They have shut everything down. Electricity. Internet. Roads. Can they shut our memory down? Can they stop stories from forming? Can they stop Burhan Wani?

Tum kitne Burhan marogey… Har ghar se Burhan nikley ga

An Indian news channel described the killing of Burhan Wani a psychological victory for Indian armed forces. They are so fundamentally wrong. Indian armed forces have already lost the psychological war in Kashmir. Hundreds of mourners at absentia funeral of Burhan at Nowhatta are a stark representation of their loss.

Is this war a psychological victory for Indian forces? Are they so afraid of a twenty two year old militant commander that they call this killing a psychological victory? Burhan Wani led a band of young boys into the woods and lead guerrilla attacks on Indian forces. His death is not a psychological defeat to Kashmir’s armed struggle; but its victory. His death will spawn many more Burhan’s.

Hurriyat has called for a three day shutdown on the killing of Burhan Wani. For a long while, I can’t believe Burhan is no longer among us. I reassure myself with the knowledge that his afterlife will exceed his life by a million years, or more. I recapture my feelings of the last few hours and end this note with another line of a freedom song:

Shaheed tumse ye keh rahe hai
Lahoo hamara bhula na deyna

July 09, 2016, 12:30 PM

Heart is heavy with pain and anger. Ten people were shot dead today by police and Indian paramilitary personal in several protests in Kashmir valley against the killing of Burhan Muzaffar Wani, the twenty two year old militant commander of Hizbul Mujahedeen.

Curfew was swiftly imposed in many parts of downtown Srinagar in the wee hours of the morning. Clashes erupted soon after the curfew was imposed. Till noon, the only news that came was of the protests all over Kashmir and of the funeral procession of Burhan Wani in Tral. Reportedly, nearly two lakh people participated in Burhan Wani’s funeral. This truly is unprecedented. In recent years, no militant commander’s death has evoked such a response from people; exemplified by the massive participation of people in his funeral in Tral and the scores of absentia funerals held in the city. There is already talk of comparison between Burhan Wani with that of JKLF commander Ashfaq Majid Wani, whose funeral in early nineties saw a massive participation of people.

A little before noon, a journalist friend called to share an idea on doing a small video feature on the responses of Kashmiri society towards the killing of Burhan Wani. I thought it was a great idea. What we had seen since last evening following the news of Burhan’s killing was simply overwhelming. People young and old – were pouring on the streets of downtown to not only register their protest but to share grief. The thing about grief like this is that it unites people; it enables us to become one when it matters most. The expression of collective grief – through the act of a funeral held in absentia – shows that despite divisions, Kashmiri people are united in pain. Our wounds are similar and this similarity unites us. The wound becomes the site of a political expression.

During the funeral of Burhan, held in absentia at Nowhatta last night, we were all wounded. The wound was open and raw and still fresh. The open wound of Kashmir cried out in unison… ‘Hum kya chahtey… Azadi’

Nobody in media captured this. The three of us wanted to show the world how Kashmir celebrated the martyrdom of Burhan Wani. We drove through downtown on a motorcycle, at some places the Indian forces stopped us and at others, angry stones were thrown at us.

The strict curfew in downtown reminded me of 2010. Streets were bereft of people. By the time we reached SMHS hospital, the situation was getting tense by the second. Two boys were already dead by the time we reached there. A middle aged man told me that situation is pretty bad inside the hospital. “Eight to ten people are critically injured, I am afraid the death toll will rise”, he said. I hoped it wasn’t true.

Few hours later, the man’s words turned out to be true. You cannot hope against death in Kashmir. I cry myself to some sleep. I wake up to find that the toll has reached ten. The anger just doesn’t go away. Silence descends on the house. When will all this stop, the brutal killings, the unaccountable nature of Kashmiri lives? Nobody gives a fuck. Does it matter, being angry? What do we do at a situation like this? I am reminded of a remark of an old friend, ‘When Kashmiri will really want to stop this, and they will get up and stop this.’

In many parts of downtown Srinagar and in outskirts too, the angry protestors were seen engaging the Indian armed forces in stone throwing battles. Kashmir bled profusely today. Ten young men, mostly from Islamabad, Kulgam and Pulwama, were declared dead by the late evening. One of them died due to drowning, while trying to escape the wrath of men in uniform.

The anger at the killings is visible on the streets. Outside SMHS hospital, a youthful blond boy told the three of us to vacate the spot at the earliest. He was angry with the media. No media person was allowed inside the hospital. There is growing anger against the media in general, and Indian media in particular, that it ‘misrepresents’ the truth of Kashmir.

A youth at Khayam Chowk told us that Indian media’s only job is to speak lies about Kashmir and malign the movement. After watching most of Indian media’s coverage of Burhan’s killing and the response of Kashmiri people towards this killing, the sentiment on the streets of Kashmir bears some significance. What I witnessed today on the streets of Kashmir is the only fundamental truth about this place (which is visible, anyway on every Friday at Nowhatta) – that Kashmiris don’t want to be part of India. Burhan was a militant commander representing this sentiment, so are the youth who throw stones. Everyone wants the same thing – Bharat se Azadi.

We met a drunken man at a football stadium near my home. Seeing our camera, he came expectantly to us and gave his freewheeling commentary on the situation. “Burhan died in Kokernag and Nowhatta is burning. Every Kashmiri is Burhan today. Hindutan’uk media tchu hamesh trith wanaan (Indian media always lies). They say he is a terrorist, but he is a true hero.”

My friend on hearing the drunken man’s rant says in an off-hand sarcastic manner, “Perhaps all Kashmiris want (and need) is an un-interrupted liquor supply (to get that kind of clarity).”

The journeys of men should lead to where they have come from.

July 10, 2016, 11:00 PM

The number of deaths has risen to twenty three. Twenty three Kashmiris killed in two days in state violence. Except a news reel in Indian TV channels, nothing concrete is known about the killings. Tomorrow’s newspapers will reveal the names and residences of these killings. At a moment in time like this, death is the only news that comes.

The killing of Kashmiri men, let us not be fooled – is no one’s concern but ours. To be outraged at the killings or even condemn them is just not enough. Fundamentally, there is no point in condemnation. The occupied people don’t condemn. The occupied people resist. I am not aghast at the Indian state; their actions have been all the same.

Five days prior to the day I was born in a hospital in downtown Srinagar, there was a massacre perpetrated by Indian armed forces in Chotta Bazar-Syed Mansoor area of Srinagar in which thirty people were killed in absolute brutal fashion. The bullets announced my birth. A curfew greeted my arrival. Those out on the streets, the dead protestors and Burhan Wani are all similar: we are the children of war. The childhood I have seen doesn’t surprise me at the brutality of the Indian occupational forces. I am way too aware of it now. This brutality is intimate now. It’s as real as the skin I live in.

In the evening, news came that a youth was shot dead in Tengpora locality of Srinagar. I spent the entire day in a lockdown at home. There is rage that needs a let-out. I choose to write it off. The home is at war. I call this a silent war because nobody except us hears its battle cries and the cries of the wounded.

A low intensity stone throwing battle rages on in the main Chowk, a little ahead of my home. The battle picks up speed at the close end of the day.

At a moment like this, my brother informs me – you don’t care about the police informers amidst the demonstrators, you throw stones anyway. An elderly shop keeper was seen today aiming a few stones at the police and paramilitary forces. The language of protests in Kashmir is same as it has been for many decades now. A death at the hands of Indian armed forces lits the spark of the old demand – “Hum Kya Chahtey… Azadi.

11 July 2016, 12:30 AM

The news is sinking us all in sadness and mourning. The number of dead has gone up to thirty. Each minute, there is a rise in the number of injured. The valley is drenched in blood. Each single death of a youth is followed by a sigh. The sigh translates into anger in no time. And more stones rain on the killers.

Hospitals in Kashmir are dealing with a crisis. There is emergency overload of injured youth, rushing in from different districts of the valley. Many of them with fire-arm injuries and many others with pellet injuries.

A friend described the atmosphere at SMHS hospital as a battle between doctors and death. SMHS and other hospitals of the valley have become the extension of the streets of Kashmir. The hospitals in Srinagar have become memory keepers of the unfolding trauma in Kashmir.

Yesterday police had fired tear smoke shells inside the hospital, creating fear and panic inside the emergency wards, where the injured are admitted. Police is beating the attendants of the injured persons and also arresting them. In any other part of the world, such a phenomena would have horrified the world community. Even the hospitals of the valley aren’t safe from the wrath of the police forces. In the past too, we have seen how police in civvies harass the attendants of the injured in hospitals, following injuries sustained in demonstrations and protests.

Youth with pellet injuries are thronging the hospitals in valley. Many of them are injured in their eyes. In SMHS alone, there are more than eighty youth with ‘grievous eye injuries’ and one person already lost his eyesight. It’s feared that the number will be higher in the coming days.

Curfew in downtown Srinagar was particularly severe today. In my attempt to reach SMHS hospital, I left home in the afternoon. Managing to get past a few barricades near Nowhatta Chowk, I was stopped by a posse of CRPF men near Bohri Kadal who rushed to me from every direction, with sticks and lathis.

I explained that I needed to visit the hospital, but they would have none of it and were about to hit me. I got scared for a moment. There was no Kashmiri in sight. Turning to my left, I saw an elderly JK police constable and hurriedly went up to him.

The constable, after knowing my media credentials, took my phone and called my journalist friend at the hospital to confirm the truth of what I was narrating. He told the men that I can leave but one of the CRPF men was quite angry at all this. He kept telling me this is a curfew and he could detain me.

The constable said I could go, but further ahead I would encounter more hostile armed Indian forces. I was in the middle of the heart of downtown, not a soul was seen on either side of the road. I decided to head back home. It was too risky. My friend rebuked me on phone for unnecessarily putting myself on risk. We are all under risk, I repeated under my breath.

While walking back home, I felt strange at the thought that how most of us Kashmiris today have resigned to the fact that our civil liberties can be curtailed at any moment. I cannot ever get around with this fact. This is not normal. We should not behave normally around it. To live your entire life under a clampdown is just not normal. This normalization of curtailment of individual liberties is just not normal. Military occupation is not normal. Those stupid panellists on Indian news channels blithering on Kashmir have absolutely no idea what it means to live under this clampdown, with no communication with the outside world – where you can be beaten, injured, arrested or even shot for being outside on the street.

I have lived my entire life in Kashmir, all twenty five years of it and in these twenty five years we have witnessed innumerable curfews, crackdowns – I am pretty sure those lecturing Kashmir from TV studios have absolutely no idea what this absolute crackdown on civil and individual liberties can do to a psyche of people. We live under a perpetual siege. Kashmir is at war. It always has been. Those in denial are into this at their own peril. For more than two decades, Kashmiris have borne the brunt of a brutal counter-insurgency campaign by Indian state. Killings, rapes, disappearances, torture should serve as answers to those who wonder at the large-scale presence of mourners at Burhan Wani’s funeral. The answer is in numbers.

‘Are we all terrorists?’

The word terrorist has become such a meaningless word today. The loose nature, with which the word is used and abused in TV channel debates of today, brings to mind the Nazi propaganda during the Second World War. Few minutes into Arnab Goswami’s Newshour debate on Kashmir, the word terrorist is said so many times that I hear nothing else. This is a terrorist. That is a terrorist. Goswami blathers. Father asks, rather irritatingly “Are we all terrorists then?”

In the employment of the term terrorist to describe those Kashmiris who have taken up arms against the Indian state perhaps lays the root of the blindness of Indian state and its media on how it sees Kashmir. In its ready urgency to brandish dissenters as terrorists, Indian media perhaps, at times, replaces the Indian state as its enemy number one because of the way it reports on Kashmir.

July 12, 2016, 11:13 PM

A teenager from Kupwara district of Kashmir was killed today in police firing and another youth from Bijbehara died today at a Srinagar hospital here. The Bijbehara youth had sustained grievous fire-arm injuries on Saturday during firing by police and Indian paramilitary personal. There are conflicting reports on the number of dead protestors. It’s either thirty two or thirty three. In four days more than thirty people dead is shockingly reminiscent of 2010, when state violence killed more than 120 protestors. There seems to be no let up to the killings.

In the hospitals across Kashmir, war like scenes reminds me of those pictures of hospitals of Syria which we see on television and on internet. The injured have risen up to 1500, some reports say. Those feared to lose eye-sight because of pellet injuries are also tipped to be higher, in hundreds. Indian media continues to ignore all this and wonders why Kashmir is back on streets and demanding Azadi?

Injuries due to supposedly non-lethal weapons (which SM Sahai was lauding a few days before) like pellets has lead to grievous eye injuries to many youth at various hospitals of the valley. Mother says all new machinery and technology are invented to find newer ways of maiming and killing Kashmiris. Pellets are increasingly becoming a tool to blind Kashmiris. To lose eye sight potentially reduces the chances of the person’s ever going out on a protest demonstration. I believe state agencies are all too aware of it.

July 13, 2016, 12:09AM

For the past five days now, the news of death of young protestors is something all Kashmiris dread and somehow wait for too. What do you do when you are locked inside homes, your movement curtailed with armed Indian paramilitary forces stationed on the street outside? You wait for news – of death, as perverse as it sounds. In the morning, I heard from a journalist friend that another youth from Islamabad has ‘succumbed to his wounds’ in a hospital in Srinagar. How do you succumb to your wounds in Kashmir? You get hit by a bullet or a tear gas shell or pellets (yes that’s true, ‘non lethal’ weapons kill as well) and then over-worked doctors in crowded hospitals (breeding with police informers and sleuths of the CID) struggle to put you on life support amidst tear gas shelling inside the ward (yeah, it happens in Kashmir, don’t be surprised) and you wait for the wound to kill you. It finally does. Wounds inflicted on a street in Kashmir leave you either dead or maimed for the rest of your life.

This phrase ‘succumbing to your wounds or injuries’ (as police press statements describe) is a common idiom in Kashmir nowadays. Where does this phrase come from? Don’t be surprised, it’s invented by police and newspapers only circulate and popularized this phrase. If police has its day in running Kashmiri newspapers, all deaths of protestors happen because the person ‘succumbed to his injuries’. He couldn’t hold it for long, Kashmiri bodies break so easily – they would have us believe. I am sick and tired of this language.

I am succumbing to the wounds inflicted by this language.

Police in Kashmir use interesting language to describe the killings of protestors. They describe a killing thus: two persons got injured in the protests and later succumbed to their injuries. Not a mention that a bullet was fired. That bullets were fired indiscriminately, without count, without measure. Their language too smacks of unaccountability. Once, while working at a daily newspaper in Kashmir, I came across an FIR describing the killing of five youngsters in police firing in this way: ‘Police had fired in air to disperse the youth, and in this mayhem some of the bullets hit the youth’. Kashmir, perhaps, will be the only place on earth, where bullets fired in air result in death of people.

I will not be surprised if the FIR’s filed in the deaths of protestors following Burhan Wani’s killing will implicate the protestors or in some cases implicate the dead protestors for their own killing.

In the evening, news arrived that another youth was shot dead in fresh firing by CRPF in Khanabal, Islamabad. The number of dead people is thirty six now. Thirty six people in five days. And it has hasn’t stopped yet. It doesn’t look like it will. There are over forty critically injured people in various hospitals of the valley. The number of dead will likely be rising in coming days, a journalist friend gloomily informed me.

Eighty five years have passed since the incident of July 13, 1931 when more than twenty Kashmiri men were shot dead, outside the Central Jail in Srinagar, by the Dogra forces. The men had assembled to protest the arrest of one Qadeer, who had made a fiery speech against the autocratic Maharaja and called for the overthrow of the regime. The bloodletting of Kashmiris on that day opened a distinct chapter in the history of Kashmir – one of open revolt against tyrannical regimes. The chapter is still being written to this very day. Nothing has changed. Kashmiris continue to rise against oppression and injustice, the regimes continue to respond with bullets. The struggle continues.

July 14, 2016, 10:57 PM

Another dreary day of curfew in Kashmir. I spent the entire day locked inside home except for the briefest while when a neighbourhood boy was hit by a tear smoke shell in his hand – fired by police some sixty yards away from my house. The commotion outside brought me out on the street. I overheard a woman saying to another that the boy was writhing in pain, cursing and weeping that he had no part in throwing stones at the police vehicle. The boy was shifted to a nearby hospital and is undergoing treatment on his ‘split hand’. I know the boy. I often find him playing cricket in the nearby football stadium. Would he have thought that he can no longer play cricket the same way as he used to, not for some while, at least?

Some months ago, another teenager from a nearby locality had lost his hand from a tear gas shell. The boy cannot write anymore with his right hand. Daily military occupation forces people to adapt to newer, sometimes creative, ways of living and responding to war. In this boy’s case, he will learn to write with his left hand. And hopefully someday, his left hand will write the story about what happened to his right hand. Occupation kills and maims us, but it somehow still cannot obliterate our history – the history of a lost hand, a lost eye and a lost Mujahid.

Every day there are small incidents like this near the street outside home. A stray stone thrown in the direction of the police vehicle stationed at the junction leads to ‘Chagg’. Chagg is a Kashmiri word for the act of ‘chasing protestors’. We witness four five Chaggs every day. Two days ago, three burly and loud-mouthed policemen chased boys deep into our locality and banged few doors, cursing and abusing the entire neighbourhood. Before leaving, one of the policemen warned the teenager, who had escaped into one of the alleys that he will come back and rape his mother. My younger brother calls them foolish policemen. ‘They think they can come like this into this locality and escape unharmed. They are only three in number.’

The number of deaths has risen to forty. Most of the deaths are of people who were shot on Saturday and were undergoing treatment to fire-arm injuries in different hospitals of the valley. On Saturday, police and paramilitary forces had unleashed wanton force on stone throwing protestors; injuring hundreds in a single day. There are very few deaths in fresh protests.

Protests in downtown have mellowed down in last two days. I am not so sure though. The communication breakdown is severe. The news from Islamabad and other districts south of Srinagar comes in spurts, only by phone. Yesterday they restored BSNL phone services in Islamabad, only for some hours. Today, just two hours ago, phone services in Srinagar have also been snapped. I imagine this is for preventing any mass congregation at Friday prayers tomorrow at Jamia Masjid.

The arbitrary nature of snapping communication in Kashmir is not new. Since the mass uprising of 2008, it’s the customary practice of State to prevent any news from Kashmir to travel outside. In the garb of clichéd phrase of ‘maintaining law and order’, the crackdown on communication is done to hide the crimes of the state and to lessen the impact of the responses to these crimes.

July 15, 2016, 11:47 PM

Curfew continues to choke life in Kashmir. Today was the sixth day of uninterrupted curfew imposed on all districts of Kashmir valley. No news is forthcoming anymore. Phone services in Srinagar remain blocked since yesterday evening. If TV channels are to be believed, the number of deaths resulting in clashes is still at forty and the number of injured has exceeded over two thousand. Hospitals in Kashmir are braving the assault with tremendous difficulty and courage. Doctors are trying hard to prevent blindness of youth injured by pellets.

For the seventh consecutive day, mobile broadband services have remained blocked in all parts of Kashmir. Every single means of our communication with the outside world has been severed. The truth of Kashmir is forced to remain on its streets – not allowed to enter the drawing rooms of comfortably placed Indians or the international community. For how long will Kashmiris brave through this silent war, with very few voices in the world caring enough to take note of? What would it entail in any other part of the world if the access of its people to the outside world is prevented in this brazen way? In Kashmir, it’s a reality people have come to accept for an unchanging fact.

No newspaper was available today. Father said the newspapers hadn’t come; the newspaper outlet in the main Chowk was shut at the early morning hour. It’s open till 7 AM. There was no way to checking on it again. A police barricade on the main street disallows movement of people in the day. They have banned the newspapers, too. No news comes from this city.

They did not allow Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid today. Nowhatta Chowk was heavily garrisoned. Huge attendance of people at this historic mosque of the city evokes a crackdown from the state. The mosque has become the site of resistance; the site giving birth to mass resistance in the form of massive protest demonstrations and pitched stone throwing battles between youth and Indian armed forces. On some Fridays, as the Imam preaches from the pulpit – alongside the echo of his voice are heard the sounds of tear gas shells lobbed to disperse the stone throwing youth.

In a mosque located inside an alley in Nowhatta, the Imam exhorted the resistance leadership not to give away the moment, like they did during 2008 mass uprising. The protests against the state’s atrocities should continue, he declared.

I have nowhere to go except come back to this diary to record what has happened in Kashmir for the past one week. This is my first draft of history; the history which is written in blood on numerous streets of Kashmir every single day of the past week. This diary is an attempt to record and write that history in words – for to evoke Agha Shahid Ali:

Words are nothing, just rumours – like roses – to embellish a slaughter.


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Irfan Mehraj Written by:

Irfan Mehraj is a journalist and researcher based in downtown Srinagar, Kashmir.

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