A Turbulent Night In Kashmir
While turning pages of my memory book on the very opening chapter which directly captured my imagination was, our life in valley, A hell week in paradise on earth,
It is better to be born as Cactus open and free in dessert rather a Tulip in garden which is destined to be trampled down,
The warm winds, dust storm of sand dunes is better than cool breeze of valley contaminated with toxic poisonous air
Who love their soil more, those who have right on it or who are rightful “?
Who use bullet to make it hell or who use sweat to make it paradise?
Whose land is it who bleed and taint it or who give their blood never stain it
but my heart always contradicts with my mind, I still naively trusted the enigmatically construed persona by our nemesis like we see a mirage, which I still didn’t consent and entirely rejected this fact that anyone would be so brimming with hatred towards us to even think of harming , I undermined the sources hinting of brewing animosity and enmity till fire was ignited which turned into inferno, with my mere clenched teeth razed hopes and profound heartache I couldn’t do anything just be silent spectator.
The train of thoughts chugged me to that point where I halted it occurred to me how our ancestors, forefathers Saraswat Brahmin were prodigy of that land of higher consciousness knowledge ,Philosophical Scholars ilk of Kumarajiva, Vasugupta emperor like Lalit Aditya continued to thrive on their ancient civilization obviously it is very significant ,we are here all because of them who stood defiant their unswerving resolute, strong willed characteristics refused to bow down in front of tyranny additionally never gave up their faith not to convert and defended their forts ,identity, revolted against conversion ,protected their culture on contemplating it highest degree of honour forms in my heart, I am proud of our legacy more so their scarifies have emboldened us to keep our Dharma alive ,it becomes our utmost ethical moral duty to protect our religion and never allow anyone to destroy our existence ,even one dying is like being nearer at alarming rate to extinction subsequently present day to remain alive and surviving of descendants is paramount moreover vital for renaissance of culture and indigenous civilisation.
We were on spiritual journey, and they were on path of destruction
We were looking inwardly and they downwardly
we seek spiritual light and they towards dark noir morbid agnostic pursuits
we seek higher consciousness while alive by expanding our knowledge and transform and they devoid of humanity, their truancy and death of conscience
Irony is these people love to hate and hate to love and we love to love and hate to hate
My last visit to my native place Srinagar was in summer of year 1988, the whole valley was in prime of most vibrant, colourful flower gardens inviting mountains enticing woods open for all when one can enjoy the scenic spots destination fun outdoor in a very pleasant and cool summer season, but something was amiss midst of beauty at pinnacle, perfectness, excess there was imperfectness, defect and underlying dearth
But my joy was short lived and my dream visit turned into nightmare , end came too soon that incidence shook me to core ,valley veil was drawn and crude scars came to surface ,no inclination at all ,it was too perfect to believe it true though I could feel there was something which was not right ,it was absolutely quiet before storm ,that evening I was at Badiyar Bala at my maternal home in old city of Srinagar ,everyone was watching telly watching latest news which were televising breaking news of Pakistan general Ziaulahak death ,so all were glued to tv simultaneously all my relatives discussing with concern speculating now atmosphere here in valley should remain calm and peaceful it should not stir disruption ,it was like an earthquake in Pakistan shouldn’t cause tsunami in valley but bad dreams or bad intuition always turn into reality ,within one hour we could hear chanting shouting and slurs slogans of frenzy charged mob approaching nearer on the main road and like tornedo stroked ragingly havoc all what came in their path, it rapidly devours whatever comes its way ,it was horror death and destruction to property ,vehicles, a pure devil banging doors barging in to hurt people .
All lights were turned off horrified children ,young girls and women were segregated and hurriedly led to climb top floor attics to hide behind piles of gunny bags ,sacks of grains, large vessels and trunks ,who started crying but gagging themselves as not to be heard by assailants ,we were told to climb up attic silently and lock from inside and strictly warned to block the door with heavy trunks to resist in case they came after us to harm us ,it was pure scene middle of frightening horror and there was no escape route however were left in peril with threat of life honour ,we remained there motionless for period of time without food water and nature calls till dusk until army was deployed and mob got dispersed then went elsewhere to unleash their monster rage, mayhem.
That day I realised a paradise on earth has been turned into hell by its own native people and most dangerous place where life has no value or humanity has no meaning this was its real face and true nature.
At that instant moment I determined I have to bid adieu heavy heartedly hence joy of visiting vanished swiftly, I still shiver, tremble recalling that night, it also is embedded in my mind and ever since haunting .it was daunting picture, what then followed was a scene from some battle field, honestly speaking we owe our lives to army which was deployed immediately then curfew was also imposed afterwards somehow I escaped from eye of storm thank my lucky stars
It also reminded me once there also was such time when I still remember how in our down town in our big house consisting of four floors with attic living in it our large big family of our grandfather uncles and aunts in one mega joint family one unit ,in those fairly happy days when generally on Sundays we would host our Muslim neighbours kids for watching Bollywood movies in good numbers all chilling , having fun and giggle. we all would watch those classic movies together without any inhibition or hesitation or tiff or visible enmity or threat hate or maybe we could not see red flags or fathom their clandestine intentions plus deceptions.
No matter what we do we could not change the direction of wind, course of river or no one can turn back the hands of time, our lives won’t get back on track, explaining any rationale or ideology driving behind this grotesque devilish diabolic act is futile because they refute the charges, categorically deny any wrongdoing
Fast forward to fall of 1990 in Jammu at our home, air was stiff again perhaps worrying simmering tension in vale led us to be glued to our gripping tv news on latest sporadic killings that of prominent Kashmiri Hindu figure in Kashmir, in regard to it my dad and cousin brother went to attend emergency meeting called to do a demonstration to condemn it surprisingly they had run away to safety as someone had called cops on gathering who grappled with them
By the advent of winter things had fallen apart amid worsening atmosphere in vale disruption of peace and volent criminal act of murder was rampant ,here in winter capital of J&k ,in Jammu all were on edge for fear of unknown or dark times ahead ,what was inevitable and probably anticipated but not too soon ,situation took turn for the worse ,one sombre starless chilly dark night there was sudden abrupt scary pounding knock on gate which took every one in home by surprise ,startled when turned on lights we saw our aunt along with cousin we let them in but why they came unannounced or without any prior intimation but their gasping and exhausted exasperated faces did give hint of their ordeal ,they were the first batch who had to run for their lives leaving behind all their wealth ,land etc fleeing from persecution as terrorist outfit had issued threat to life notice ,fatwa was declared to them for giving medical emergency aid to dying victim ,whom they were first responder ,they borrowed our clothes and had hot meals with their trembling hands and chapped lips with tears saline pouring down from eyes into their mouth ,
just after another week a honking three-wheeler stopped in front our gate as we guessed rightly thus this time it was our uncles family who were on hitlist of extremists who were hounded ousted afterwards tentacles of extremism were spreading far and wide
Every evening it was regular feature to join our father together to go bus station to receive new batch of our distressed, hapless relatives, poor souls
some were still trapped in violence torn city mostly males who stayed behind, nevertheless graphic images were emerging of people involved in looting house plundering heinous crime committed on them
the intense scene at bus station was of exactly how we had seen in movie on horror of partition or war, dozens of families together hired trucks trailers overpaying extra money to drivers who also unreasonably exploited their helplessness as they were desperate to flee take refuge in Jammu.
In this commotion and quantum of chaotic aftermath of insurgency and mass exodus, Let us not forget how crucial is to highlight how in our same community there were several individuals like my father , trail blazers,, who didn’t hinder,infact in very composed manner came forward to hold their distraught relatives who were plunged into abject misery ,in one house they accommodated almost half dozen families and their own large extended family including parents and grandparents alike ,lending ear to listen with empathy their horrific experiences relieve their angst and heart break pain ,every room occupied ,elders had episode of recurring flashback of traumatic events which made them vulnerable like plants without its soil and fish without water because of not living in their habitat
Had to acclimate to climate extremes were incongruous in environment subsequently impoverished so ended up languishing in duress
The loss of habitat and hostile weather was affecting mental wellbeing and health of our old elders which resulted in three consecutive deaths of grandparents and our eldest uncle within very same year of exodus, witnessing death and destruction equally grief ,no compassionate support to grieve or bereavement , condition resulted in deterioration ,decline in living standard ,we were students then so our studies too took hit and affected our psyche also ,the reminiscent of that traumatic experiences have left lesions in our whole being and healing is prolonged ,coping more difficult
Fast forward, the recollections of the conversations with my Dad I fished out panoply of invaluable quotes aided by his elevating foresight to face the life with positive attitude and right spirit even in times of catastrophe of such proportion; -
God has already allocated, head hunted specific persons to undertake one’s family arduous tasks and various liabilities of our community too “
“It is noble and right to give what you would receive but if you give more than how much you received, you create happiness; subsequently you create great future for others”
Nothing worthwhile is ever achieved without sacrifice and Cost; figure out how not to self-doubt, become indispensable, never hinder to risk your valuable assets to envisage social and economic growth of your blood relative or family “
“It takes tremendous discipline and willpower to discipline yourself to do things for others though are hard and necessary but surely mounts to upliftment and leads to happiness you can’t stand by storm watch it to pass
Surmount the storm and emerge with self-satisfaction, peace of mind and inner joy because you pursued to do something for others-essentially to needful ultimately you loved to do it not for any reward or award or self-interest but out of your sheer act of kindness”
We didn’t cower hence propelled out of fear though had to face tremendous mammoth challenges of the new dimensions, challenges which entailed vulnerability encompassing uncertainty, unending despair also precarious future
It seemed there is no end to human tragedy no hope of our future or survival or living peacefully without threat of extinction, it was test of our endurance and tolerance was running thin and those implicated are on loose
Onslaught on community has taken toll perhaps is mounted on threshold of murder of humanity on seismic scale claimed lives still no prosecution no outrage just momentarily media coverage till dust settled tone diminished
It was arduous journey to fight back eerily tears however could not dry moist eyes neither anything alleviated our misery nor inexhaustible eyes who are still peering with fear enduring respective individual catastrophe
Lastly As we all know, any civilised society in modern age has right to know truth and certainly need to know truth, particularly our young generation who are our future builders of world ought to know what is happening also what had happened to our particular community, to make difference ,for reflection ,to acknowledge and for reconciliation further bring change effectively and correct some wrong or learn from mistakes to shape the history
Rekha Tukra Koul (Khashu’s of Batyaar Alikadal) lives in UK, a professional accountant, CA Inter and MBA Finance. Nowadays spends whole time at Island of Wight on penning poems and prose etc. for various magazines in Kashmiri, Hindi and English.