Humra Quraishi writes to Lt. Gen. (Retd.) S. K. Sinha- The Week

 

http://week.manoramaonline.com/cgi-bin/MMOnline.dll/portal/ep/theWeekContent.do?BV_ID=@@@&contentType=EDITORIAL&sectionName=TheWeek%20Lifestyle&programId=1073755413&contentId=4479429

 

 

COUNTERPOINT

 

A human tragedy

 

Dear Lt Gen. (retd) S.K. Sinha,

 

I read your interview (‘Kashmir has been Talibanised’, August 31) with much pain. You seem to have overlooked the human being in the Valley, how he/she is surviving amid rights violations and the fear of being humiliated or branded.

 

I can understand your limited perception because, living in Raj Bhavan [as J&K Governor], you have had little opportunity to mix with ordinary Kashmiris, who dread to venture near the Governor’s residence for fear of being suspected as terrorists and killed. The aggrieved have no forums to voice their disgust of the way they are treated. Worse, special acts prevent locals from lodging direct complaints against security personnel.

 

You dwelt on growing religious intolerance among Kashmiris. It is not a fair perception. I have been reporting from the Valley from the early 90s and can vouch that the average citizen there is not communal. While travelling in the Valley after the Gujarat pogrom of 2002, I could sense there was anger against the killings and the way the political brass handled the riots. But the anger was not along communal lines. For, when busloads of Gujarati tourists came to Srinagar (in the summer and autumn of 2002), no Kashmiri talked of revenge.

 

Dr Nitesh Sengupta, the bureaucrat handpicked by the Union home ministry in 1996 to look into the Amarnath yatra, talked about how the Valley’s Muslims help the yatris. When I interviewed Sengupta recently, he said, “Local Kashmiris stood by the pilgrims. There weren’t any cases of looting and harassment by locals even when pilgrims were in distress or ill. Local Kashmiri Muslims were the first to bring in relief to the yatris, much before the government machinery [did].”

 

True, today the Kashmiri is upset and alienated. Have you introspected why? In the past few years, innocent civilians were killed in fake encounters. I am sure you are aware of the long list of civilians killed. Yet, we chose to remain quiet and keep the skeletons of the dead tight shut.

 

Are you aware of the big gap between civilians and the administration? Or the extent of the alienation? In his book Kashmir: The Wounded Valley, journalist Ajit Bhattacharjea, who has been reporting from the Valley from the 1940s, presents the contrast between what he had seen in the Valley then and as it is now.

 

Read on and you will see that the same Kashmiris who welcomed the Indian Army in the 1940s now live in fear of searches, midnight knocks and arrests. Also, Kashmir saw no communal tension when the rest of north India burned during the Partition years. During my travels into rural Kashmir (for my writings and my book Kashmir: The Untold Story), I was shocked by the ground realities that have remained hidden. In seemingly less troubled times, a Kashmiri research student had told me, “What you see is make-up on. Once it is ripped off, the reality glares.”

 

Now reality glares even more thanks to politics, and lopsided policies. If we say that Kashmir is our integral part, then treat it like one. Introspect on where we went wrong or overboard. Reach out. Lessen the alienation. It cannot be done through speeches, but through genuine moves to treat the human being out there with respect and sensitivity.

 

Humra Quraishi,

On email

 

 

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One Response to “Humra Quraishi writes to Lt. Gen. (Retd.) S. K. Sinha- The Week”

  1. Abid Says:

    highly influenced by the letter. Could i get the email address, Tel.No or other contact of Humra Quraishi?

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