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The Assets of Usual Contempt

The Assets of Usual Contempt

‘Passive harassment for people of Kashmir, the unintentional remarks like quoting the infamous statement to justify the ill-bred occupation, is a concerning issue. It goes unnoticed and normally even the listener wouldn’t care to think about it in most cases.’

Kashmir had become stifling. It burdened me to realize that the world won’t stop for me. I owed it to myself to go out there and put myself to good use. I needed to accumulate some experience that is akin to my interests, to get out of my comfort zone and step into a crowd that makes me aware of my dormant potential. These were the ambitions that I brought along with me when I came to Delhi.

I thought I’d get internships in a city like this as if they’re nothing, a matter-less subscription that could be handed out free and yet incur the cost of living at your own expense. I didn’t get an internship but instead, I found a completely unrelated job that promises to pay for my expenses and help me get an idea of a corporate work environment, which is something I never thought I would do in my life.

Kashmir is under a continuous lockdown. Naturally, the interest of a few people is piqued when I mention that I am from Kashmir, and the exchange of opinions began.

I keep meeting new people and in various situations, I am demanded to introduce myself, so there’s a script that I follow that came to me when I gave the very first introduction. I made it imperative to mention that I am from Kashmir and I repeat that every time I introduce myself. I find myself being questioned most ceremoniously. Sometimes out of the rightful concern and sometimes out of unrelenting curiosity that is too polite to be declined. I am asked about the status of Kashmir, not the people, or of various other things that I may or may not hold close to my heart. They seem to run into a wall after a few moments. The look of ignorance in their eyes scares me and my fate, or that of the whole state is wrapped in a fine line of approaching development as promised by the PM of India. They almost immediately quote the same lines as if were a means to justify the struggles of my home. My company believes in five virtues, one of them is integrity and that is what they shatter by indulging me along with their ignorance. Admittedly on a couple of occasions, it came from my superiors.

The same statement that subconsciously flows from every mouth without realizing that what they are spewing are lies fed to them on a silver platter. The shape it takes is unreal for them to believe because their minds are limited, their field of vision is corrupted and the uniqueness of their thought is ruined by listening to the same things over and over again is an unsettling part of their personalities. It takes the form of subtle passive harassment, which is unintended but clearly there if I walk you along with the scenarios. It can also be termed as reading between the lines or overthinking by some but it isn’t invalid in any way.

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My trainer and a few of my fellow trainees were having lunch in the cafeteria and he enquired about the ongoing situation. When we were talking about the issue at large, I came up with answers that were visibly unsettling to him and then he went on to repeat the same narrative that has been collectively shared by the political parties, social networks and media outlets included— that the abrogation of Article 370 will bring development and commerce, supposedly hindered our progress.

India has an overgrown history of blaming Pakistan for every single issue making them out as the most vicious enemy. That and the ‘Kashmir will see absolute development’ are lies and like Hitler said: “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.

This ironical statement that is waved in my face is raging rhetoric to the flourishing history of occupation of seventy-two years. It has the power to passively harass me because it completely discredits our struggle, my struggle as a Kashmiri. Conflict is a part of my identity, I’m designed by it, it is my exoskeleton and if it has no meaning for you, I have no meaning for myself in front of you. You’re not acknowledging a large ratio of my existence, the scales of which are now higher than ever.

With due respect to my trainer, the dialogue kept repeating itself no matter, even when I tried removing India and Pakistan from the equation what remained was us, the people of Kashmir. Somehow that was not enough. From their point of view, Kashmir has to be theirs for its Himalayan vantage and that it is strategically important. I asked what about the people? “Well the Article has been removed, now you’re a part of India minus the dispute.”

In another instance, my Process Supervisor also followed up on my introduction and asked about the state of condition my folks at home were. I complied and based on my experience, I did not indulge him in any detailed or personal opinions. However, he did not stop there. He quoted a certain phrase and it took me a while to process what he said. “No pain, no gain.” He says. That suffering is necessary for change.

What did he mean by that? I asked myself. I tried both the perspectives, first I processed my own and I knew I felt uncertain and disgusted by that remark. Then I looked from his perspective, and I realized that his knowledge of the suffering of my fellow Kashmiris is limited to a mere lockdown. He sought my approval about his unintentionally obscene remark on my face, I didn’t give him any.

This ironical statement that is waved in my face is raging rhetoric to the flourishing history of occupation of seventy-two years. It has the power to passively harass me because it completely discredits our struggle, my struggle as a Kashmiri. Conflict is a part of my identity, I’m designed by it, it is my exoskeleton and if it has no meaning for you, I have no meaning for myself in front of you. You’re not acknowledging a large ratio of my existence, the scales of which are now higher than ever.

The same statement suggests that the revocation of the Article works in our favour, which is not the case. It is an alibi. For them, it works on the same platform as justifying seven decades of struggle against the Indian doctrine, the unfortunate occupation in Kashmir. It is thought of as a way of redemption for the people of Kashmir. Such redemption is unwelcomed that only satisfies the conscious of the illegal occupant.

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I have understood a few things at my workplace and despite the progressive dynamic that it provides; Indians can’t change its inherent nature of warped psychology if it believes in a government that is stemmed from a Nazi ideology. The politics in India are based on religious grounds, divide and rule, polarization, repeating the same lies over and over until the system seems a natural benchmark.

There are rights, constitutional and universal and thinking that the basic human rights, like justice, do not extend to us is also something that I found out from my fellow colleague. That they will be extended to us now since we are a part of a wholesome government and we can avail laws that’ll mean to an end. I was horrified when I discovered this. The ignorance that fills their minds is unlike anything I have seen. A general rule in discussions either should be able to admit to things that are proved wrong.

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Passive harassment for people of Kashmir, by which I mean the unintentional remarks like quoting the infamous statement to justify the ill-bred occupation, is a concerning issue. It goes unnoticed and normally even the listener wouldn’t care to think about it in most cases. While I am conscious of my identity and how conflict is an inseparable part of me, I won’t fail to notice the passive remarks and that would almost certainly lead to an existential crisis.

Justice, if the government of India believed in it, would have been removing AFSPA, PSA or the brutal use of Pellet Guns and various other articles of the violation. If the removal of the Article is for our development, why not start with the laws that give absolute authority to the army? Why not hold them accountable for decades of documented abuse? Why not start with reparations for the last 72 years of struggle against the illegal occupation?

Removing the article isn’t a route of development or the “New Era” as India’s PM said it is. It’s was the last line of defence for the people of Kashmir and the last hurdle for BJP to conquer Kashmir as a legitimate Indian state. I do not empower any government as a Kashmiri, my identity is insignificant and expendable. I am only the collateral in the midst. Period.

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