Until something doesnâ€™t affect us directly it hardly exists. We, human beings, place ourselves first and foremost in every transaction of life. I came to know about the revocation of Article 35A through Google. Home was thousands of kilometres away. I read the headline and went back to my existential mode of life. There were no consequences. No bullet or pellet walking towards my face. I could sleep, eat, go to college or trim nailsâ€” activity as insignificant as that was doable. Occasionally, I would upload a WhatsApp status to appease my conscience, but it seemed banal after some time.
But, not any longer. The news is real and horrifying. I am now repelled by the idea of momentary peace which I got by uploading statuses. I am deeply affected. So are hundreds and thousands of Kashmiris. I wonâ€™t lie to spur emotional kisses and sympathies from you. Let me keep it basic. I am affected because I canâ€™t talk to my father, mother, sister, brothers and other loved ones. I donâ€™t know what is happening to them. I fear imagination more than reality. I imagine them being pigeonholed. The state of not knowing their well-being is unbearable. They are treated worse than animals in my world. Maybe that is an exaggeration or maybe not. Who knows? In the so-called largest democracy, where people are trying to communicate with stars, there are people who are not even allowed to talk. How brutal is this?
I am also affected because I canâ€™t go home again. I went once, only to witness extreme subjugation. The situation was akin to a medieval conquered land I had read about in history books. You canâ€™t leave your room as the â€˜custodians of democracyâ€™, patrolling the roads day and night, are ready to slap you with Public Safety Act (PSA)â€” a constitutional provision abused to crush dissent. This law ensures your complete silence. If the victim turns out to be a youth, then it takes the shape of the rock that Sisyphus carried over the mountain. It doesnâ€™t allow one to rest, live peacefully. Careers are affected; there is social stigma; the very thought of institutional harassment after every protest will chill you to the marrow. It keeps coming back until one succumbs to it. You canâ€™t stay in your room either as there is no internet. No need to explain this blindingly obvious truth: millennials depend on it.
There is something more important at stake than these subjective aspirations and I am affected by that. I assume we all are. I, you, all of us are being de-individualized. Citizens are being rated on the scale of Governmentality. People who disagree are punished and those who agree are rewarded. A pervasive idea of hyper-nationalism is setting up a new narrative. It is being used as a pretext to evade accountability and pursue dogmatic agendas. We are allowing ourselves to be controlled. The ability to questionâ€” an important characteristic of human beingsâ€” has been discontinued.
Decisions that impact millions are taken without a dialogue. A few are controlling many. It is terrifying to see that an individual wields so much power. There is hardly any space for dialogue or a constructive conversation. There is only one opinion, no opposition. This world is becoming monolithic. Dystopian. What equates to horror is that a great number of individuals, organizations, and nation-states are helping to make this dystopian world. Only because it affects themâ€” they draw material and non-material benefits from it as per their self-centered, vested interests.
History should teach us the impermanence of oppression. Human beings crave freedom. It is as important as oxygen. The deprived and the oppressed have always found ways to liberate themselves. Slavery ended. Feudalism was discredited. Nations were decolonized. The church no longer is absolute. The truth will be found sooner or later. We must make a choice. A choice that furthers oppression or one which liberates the oppressed.