Jan 26, 2013

Of Indian Republic Day and Kashmir

Today it’s the Republic day of India, a great zealous day for the “Largest democracy in the world”. But for Kashmir, it’s not just another holiday; it is the day of intuitive tensions, annoying frisking and no work. 

Well I, like my other peers, have grown up in the turmoil-ridden streets of Srinagar where most of childhood was shackled in concertina wires and trampled under Jackboots. I have smelled the smoke of shells and my ears are familiar with the deafening roar of guns. My poor vocabulary is well versed with terms like curfew and crackdown. Each chaotic day that I have survived has now turned more into a routine and hence habitual. But this day, the 26th of January has always been special, out of the ordinary 364 days of the year.  

As I vividly remember, as a child #26Jan was more like a D-day for me and my peers. I was a kid and any opportunity to rejoice was always welcoming for me.  I was never curious to celebrate the day as a proud Indian but I was more curious to watch the special republic day parade on TV. Although I am not a keen viewer of that pomp and show anymore but I clearly remember how the TV program presented the long-winded cavalcade of Indian pride bragging about their huge imported ammo and the rich cultural diversity(that I really appreciate).  The Arjun Tank, Bheem and other Hindi stuff sounded huge to my little mind.Huh!

Like my Kashmiri brethren, I too was confined to my home only to watch that special TV program followed by a reel of patriotic Bollywood movies that programmed my tender brain and fed it with an engineered affection towards the Indian Nation and definitely hate towards neighboring Pakistan.

Following the cavalcade of the different Indian States, I always glued myself to the TV set, desperate enough to get a glimpse of my home, Kashmir. I am not really sure if the actors dressed in pheran and dancing on the Kashmiri tunes were Kashmiris in real. But the way they imitated the various Kashmiri activities seemed amusing. It was always about the pashmina shawls, dancing damsels and houseboats. But Kashmir is lot more promising I believe.

Period! Time has changed and hence “their” policies. I am a grown up now and so have “their” ways of confining me and other Kashmiris to their homes. Now they welcome our 26th Jan morning by blocking our mobile phone and internet signals in the name of "National security". I reason they fear the tweets that bombard their image and devastate their reputation. They fear the black banners that flood the social networking sites eating up their pride. 

Although the new policies have been engineered wisely but some old ones still persist. The Republic day parade and “Desh-Bhakti” movies still flood the Indian TV world the whole day only to add to the boredom of a common Kashmiri, myself included.

Now if I wish to move out and rejoice the holiday with my peers, I am asked for my Identity and frisked to such a level that surpasses the highest level of annoyance.  The frisking and other “security” measures are beefed-up a week ago heralding the coming of an unwelcoming day in Kashmir. As such the streets look null and void except a pack of streets dogs and Indian Soldiers patrolling the deserted nowhere.  

The same episode follows on and on and iterates every year on 26th of January. At the end of the day when the celebrations in India are over and people start moving back happily to their homes, Kashmir is let free to speak, mourn, shout, cry and tweet. And now when I am sharing all this I feel as if a curfew relaxation has been declared in Kashmir only to make my mobile phone breathe again and my brethren take a sigh of relief until the next R’ day arrives. Till then I am suggested to keep bombarding my tweets!!

By the way #HappyRepublicDay to my Indian folks.