Kashmir: In Times of Mainstream Mourning

Naseer A Ganai

Naseer is a Srinagar based journalist. His personal blog, Kashmir Reporter can be accessed here.

It was unexpected. That is why it had greater impact. And no one can predict its aftershocks. At least no one in the Valley was expecting that Afzal Guru will be hanged. That too secretly. The UPA led Congress government not only hanged him but went a step ahead: they didn’t inform Afzal’s family before carrying out the hanging. They didn’t give his family a chance to meet him.

Instead, they shot a letter to his wife, telling her that her husband will be hanged on February 9, 2013. The family received “the death letter” on February 11, two days after the execution. This is not only shocking but insulting, to put it mildly.

It shows the arrogance of the State. That it doesn’t care and doesn’t bother. All talks of peace, dialogue, reconciliation is just posturing. Radha Kumar, Dilip Padgaonkar and Sushobha Barves’ and others are there to hoodwink. The reality is a nose that is always tightening around the neck of Kashmiris.

The reality is that the chief minister gets a call in the evening. He is informed that we are going to do “that work” tomorrow and “you take care of the rest.” ‘That work’? Ah, the language. “That work” was to hang Afzal.

The Chief Minister did take care of the situation. He imposed curfew. He didn’t allow people to walk out of their doors. He executed internet for four days. He brought Kashmir to the standstill. They hung Afzal in Tihar. The Chief Minister tightened noose around Kashmiris in the Valley. Mission accomplished.

Kashmiris wanted to mourn. But they did not allow them to do it. You cannot even mourn the hanging. The message was clear. It is Omar Abdullah, it is Mehbooba Mufti, who have do it. If India is to be called banana republic, this privilege must go to former Union Home Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed. If someone has to go under police custody during protest, he too should be a legislator.

Omar, according to Tanvir Sadiq, his latest political secretary, was first to talk about ramifications of the hanging. According to him, Omar’s interviews prompted the PDP to react, otherwise PDP would not have. Here too, they compete with each other.

Omar mourned on NDTV, CNN-IBN and Headlines Today. Because, he was allowed to mourn, and he did the job.

And then Mehbooba enters the scene. She too mourns the hanging during a press conference. She condemned the act. She said that she had already conveyed to the central government that they should not hang Afzal. Mufti Sayeed went a step ahead and described India as a “banana republic.”

 Picture: postcardfromkashmir.tumblr.com

Picture: postcardfromkashmir.tumblr.com

Excellent performance! The State executes a person and organs of the State protest against the execution ordered by the State. Wonderful! No one loses the job. No one resigns.

During this mainstream mourning, policemen raided printing presses of various newspapers. These papers could be still found in Maisuma and Kothibagh police stations.

In ‘grief’, Omar tweeted that editors themselves stopped publication of the newspapers, given their inability to reach to the districts. Thus denying newspapers even a chance to write an editorial about confiscation of the newspapers.

His father, Dr Farooq Abdullah, in his median TV appearance said that Afzal Guru is a closed chapter.

And grief stricken NC later hit at the Bar. Why did not you provide legal aid to Afzal Guru? You lawyers, you talk so much. Why did not you go to defend him? Why? NC was seeking answers as if NC had hired Elena Kagan, famous US jurist, to fight Afzal’s case.

And during all this drama, people were denied a chance to mourn. They were denied a chance to visit his empty grave and offer Fateh to him. That is why there is helplessness and anger among all. That neither the family nor Kashmiris were allowed to grieve. What turn this grief and anger will take only time will tell. But once anger becomes an ideology, the consequences can be devastating.

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