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Kashmiri Ladki

Kashmiri Ladki

On 24 August I received a video through WhatsApp. The title of the video is: Kashmiri Ladki. The girl’s narration is touching, moving, thought-provoking and challenging. Here is the English translation of her Hindi narration.  

“As-salamu Alaikum! I am Fatima, 16-year-old. I live in Jail. I mean that I live in Kashmir. This is a very beautiful place. As you say, this is like heaven as there are mountains and rivers. There are bombs, bullets and also terrorists. There is a big number of police too. Now we have got used to live with fear and die with fear. Leave this aside! I learnt that there is ‘lockdown’ all over the country due to Corona. Now, you can have at least some concern for us, the people of Kashmir. For the past one year we are under lockdown that is stricter than yours. Here when 144 is in place, if anyone goes out, he/she cannot be sure of his/her safe return.

You all have Internet and Wifi for entertainment. But we do not have any of these. The reason is that along with lockdown there is communication blackout. Due to this we are locked inside the house all the time. But we get a chance to see ‘live-actions’. Here we have AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act). This is not a ‘Spa’ but it is Armed Forces. They have special powers. Without any warrant they can get into any house, they can kill anyone and anywhere. No one can ask them any question because they have special powers. This is to maintain peace.

A few days back, a bomb was thrown in front of my house. But it did not explode as happened with the ideas of Demonetization and the removal of Article 370. Do you know when the Article 370 was removed in 2019, more than 6000 people were arrested and put in Jail. You will be shocked to know that there were 145 children among the arrested people. Children were put in Jail. Don’t you think that this is quite strange? And many politicians were kept under house arrest. My father and my 9-year-old sister were also sent to Jail under ‘Preventive Detention’. They have not told us what my father and sister had done to be under this detention.  

My father is a Journalist. He always speaks the truth. He has also taught me to speak the truth. His desire was that everyone must know the actual situation in Kashmir. When he spoke the truth, they filed a case of UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) against him. We never knew that speaking truth is a crime. When we go to meet him in Jail, the security removes all my clothes and check. I do not know what kind of checking it is. My mother did not like this. So, she stopped taking me to the Jail because those people are very strange.

Like my father, I also want to become a Journalist. But my mother always discourages me. She tells me, “If you become a Journalist, you will be sent to Jail.” So, I told my mother that I will become like Arnab Goswami and Rubika Liyaquat so that no one will put me in Jail. My mother laughs at me.

I had a younger brother. Now he is with Allah. His murder occurred due to the idea of removal of Article 370. He had Asthma. One day he had a severe asthma attack. There was a curfew. There was no vehicle available to take him to hospital. My father also was not here to take him immediately. There was communication blackout. So, we could contact any doctor. We could not save my brother. Before dying he said, “I will go up and tell Allah everything”.

I just want to ask you, “Do you have any concern for people like us living in Kashmir? We have been under lockdown for more than one year. There is no internet connectivity. Government is not answering to any of our question. We do not know how long we have to lead a life like this. The people of this place do have their own dreams just like any other human being. Are you not bothered about our future?

We, children have not been to school for the past 10 months. There are people who have not been to work for the past 11 months. Many people have become unemployed. Many people, like my younger brother, were murdered in their homes. Many people died of bombs and bullets. My relative’s son, who went to buy milk, was murdered by the Police. They say that he was a terrorist. We do not know what wrong he had committed. My friend’s grandfather went out with his granddaughter. He also was murdered but the granddaughter was left out. I heard that the photo of his dead body and the granddaughter sitting near became viral. The murder did not make any difference. Have you left us to die like this? Does our life not matter to any of you? If you have any answer to my questions, please answer me.

When will we live like other children? We have our own basic human rights that we have been deprived of. We need our rights back. When will Kashmir become a normal city like any other city in India? We do not know when everything will become normal. We want to know from you. I have only one request: As you ignore the President of India, please do not ignore the people of Kashmir. Please do raise your voice for us. This video will reach you in 3 to 4 days. My mother’s sister is leaving for Lucknow. She will go there and upload this video. Here we have 2G that has come recently and its functioning is very bad. You cannot just imagine about its bad state. Till then, please do not forget – Kashmir lives matters. Allah bless you!”

The brief note at the end of the video: This is not even 1% of what they are facing. This is just a reminder video to wake people up. Shall we wake up and do something for them?

(Published on 31st August 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 36)