Terminology as a tool to oppress

Every language is a world and every term a bordered place in itself. Words or terms used to signify something actually reduce the distance between the subject and the object. This coming closer to objects or situation is first step towards understanding the things. In fact, whole knowledge depends on this basic step, and perhaps that might be the reason why God taught Adam terminologyor nomenclature first.

Besides, the beauty of literature lies in using appropriate terms to portray a particular situation or idea. It’s the terminology that translates the situations and emotions to our minds. 

However, using wrong terminology or wrong nomenclature equally takes us far away from knowledge of the big picture, for it’s “knowing wrong” that human beings regret more than not knowing at all. Misquoting someone or using wrong terminology is always the begining of a fight. So, every oppressor has used and misused terms to gatekeep the reality on ground. In retaliation, oppressed always tries to expose the oppressor and counters with the terms that are in conformity with what he suffers. 

By the by, narratives are weaved and the battle field is taken to that area as well. Keeping a humane image is always a concern for the oppressor and narratives appropriate his actions as reactions. On the other hand, oppressed is portrayed as dehumanized being and his reaction is illustrated as actions or offences. 

After that, a new set of terminology is constructed to suit the oppressor’s narratives. For example; war crimes are termed as Collateral Damage, torture is justified with words such as interrogation and prosecution, and molestation is justified by frisking. Whole thing is done through the rhetorical reports backed by state funded advisors and media agencies. Only at random does it happen that some smart-ass journalist comes up with a term to refer something which is copied by the rest of the reporters throughout. 
One of the narratives used that justify the oppression and also includes most of the oppressor’s terminology is, “The youth are misled with the result they feel alienated and we are trying to include them into mainstream.” This statement, apart from the very nature of its being mischievous, uses three terms: misled, alienation and mainstream. The first term, misled, conveys the impotence of youth to think for themselves. It also denies them the very agency to represent themselves. The second term, alienation, reflects the misgovernance and not the oppression. “Misgovernance happens everywhere and you can’t blame the whole country for it.” Here alienation means the failure of integration and not absence of self determination. 

The last one is mainstream. Oppressor’s culture, their regime, the collaborators and the very form that keeps oppressor in the territory of the oppressed is termed as mainstream. People who fight to dismantle the oppression are termed as “terrorists” “secessionists” “Radicals” and people who deny others the right to determine their present as well as their future are termed as mainstream. Need I say more about it?

The oppressor, however, does not only uses such terminology to justify his oppression or portray oppression as charity to the oppressed –as though by occupation oppressor humanizes the oppressed. The very idea of using the terminology, and building of the benefited-to-state-only narratives, is to change the very consciousness of the oppressed and not the forces/forms that oppress them. 


A short history of Rattchoor

Rattchoor or blood-stealer is a name all the mothers in Kashmir use to scare their kids with when the latter tresspasses the courtyard threshold. The children are told that Ratchoor abducts them and then steals their organs such as kidneys. The propaganda of Ratchoor has taken different forms ever since the word was coined in 1965 by Indian armed forces to nab Azad Army fighters in Srinagar. 

One retired Superintendent of Police (SP), who wished, anonymity, told me, “I was young and in close connection with Azad Kashmir. When police couldn’t do anything after receiving inputs from intelligence agencies regarding the presence of armed fighters among the populace, they attached the meaning with the propagandist word Rattchoor. Police department informed people of “unknown faces” who steal the blood of the people with syringes.” 

The SP was working not with police but with Azad Army fighting Indian occupation. He added that in 1960’s, when the “border” was porous, they would attack an army base and go back to other side of the line of control. This guerilla tactic would keep indian army at toes. 

By coining the word Ratchoor, forces made every single person who wasn’t from locality suspect. And because fighters from other side couldn’t speak Urdu in Kashmiri dialect, for example they would say Saer instead of Kilo, they became vulnerable before the war between India and Pakistan reached climax. The plan was to attack the Indian air base and cut the supply lines and annihilate Indian army within the contours of Indian controlled part of Kashmir. But, its failure led to the burning of whole batmaloo where Indian forces apprehended Azad Army’s sheltering.

After that, in 1983 and then in 1995, the word Rattchoor reverberated again in Kashmiri consciousness. However, in 1999 Kargil war, when Indian forces kidnapped Kashmiris in the dark of the night or under the bare sun, only to deny later of any kidnapping and sometimes brazenly raiding the house of the abducted and asking about his whereabouts, there was a roumor that they were taken by Rattchoor. I remember that many young men would go in groups whenever they went out for a walk.

At times, during early 2003, Ratchoor would attack whole family in night and demand money on gunpoint. They were called “whistle ghosts” though the Kashmiri subconscious remember them as another form of Rattchoor. These Rattchoor were infamous for the whistles they used to scare Kashmiris with in the dark of the night. Lately, in 2013, a lady in south Kashmir who had been a 5-7 days mom was attacked by ghosts who had attempted to rape her. But, she survived as she managed to shout for help before fainting there in her outside lavatory.

It was only after some human rights organisations including Association of Parents of Disappeared People (APDP) and Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society’s (JKCCS) tireless efforts, who demystified the Rattchoor myth and with the help of first hand documentation and legal course work, another mask unveiled from Indian Army Trooper’s face turned out to be of Rattchoor’s.

Modern day Kashmiri poets and writers use the word in the same context for which it was first coined in 1965: the blood sucking killers. The only difference being that Rattchoor is known. Sajad Qaintat of Islamabad wrote after 2010 uprising, when around 130 Kashmiri civilians, mostly young, were killed by Indian forces: 

Rattchoor na’chaan kochas kochas manz, Srogg Kota Aadam Rath yett go

Yett rang wozlov weth sheenas sith, oad kolli virri oad sheen cheth yett go

(Full of Rattchoor is every street and every alley,

Alas! What a valueless substance has it been turned into

Human blood in this land of mine
A red painting has Jhelhum become,

While some flows through streams and brooks, and some the snow did absorb

Human blood in this land of mine)

Who is Innocent?

​In 1997, in our village, a Hizbul Mujahidin (HM) commander was martyred by Border Security Forces (BSF) in Anantnag town. In 1998, same commander’s cousin was martyred by the Hizbul Mujahidin for hugging a childhood friend turned Ikhwani near Achabal Adda. This remained silent until the slain man’s sister saw her HM commander cousin in the dream. She said that he revealed to her that her brother was killed by his successors. After some days, a commander of HM came and apologized and said that the accused will be brought to justice. Mourning family said nothing. The gravestone of both cousins reads “Shaheed” in Urdu calligraphy –same one in which most of the sub-continent Qurans are translated.​The women were talking in the tent about the two killings. One of the women, who happens to be the mutual cousin, said, “Balai tsinhus, Hu (HM Commander) oas droamtui ammi kheatre.” This instigated a verbal but alluding fight between the HM family’s women and this family’s women whose daughter had uttered the words. The family, whose son was martyred, stayed silent though. The questions asked by the HM family’s women were quite basic, “How in the world was our son/brother not innocent?” “Why did you say, “Balai Tsinhus” to our son?” The woman, who said those words, felt ashamed and apologized the day after. But since then, I am still facing this dilemma. She might have understood her mistake, but I couldn’t ideate this imbroglio.

​Yesterday, three policemen were killed by HM outfit. On the same evening, two alleged Jaish Mujahid’s were also martyred in a joint operation of CRPF, Police, SoGs, etc. Most of the people’s moral values and political statuses contradicted. They started terming it as cold blooded murder, since the policemen were not carrying their guns or their argument was rebels are only killing fellow Kashmiris. However, on account of the death of policemen, two Jaish Mujahids were stripped off of the general sympathy the dead get in this place of the world. Questions are same. Who are innocent? And why has the assumption, “Balai Tsinhus” remained unquestioned?

​I would make my Individual position clear first: to the families of the dead, my condolences and prayers. Now, people who argue that policemen didn’t carry weapons shouldn’t be killed. I am asking, if they carried weapons, should they be killed? But, they wore a khaki uniform. People also argue that rebels were killing Kashmiris in the war for freedom. Where is their morality when Indian soldier dies? Is that okay? Death to anyone, when we talk on ethical level, is not a moment to rejoice. Why does everyone want the end of war and only few want the destruction of their enemies? Perhaps majority knows the consequences of war or perhaps people don’t want death by war. Who wants then? Obviously, our structures and apparatuses; be it religious, political, topographical, cultural, economic, et al. However, the political apparatus outguns them all in modern nation states.

​Everyone who does any job does it either by choice or by the compulsion. People who do jobs by choice, most of them accumulate much capital while those who are cajoled into doing some job often end up with little accumulation of capital or they, at some point of time, leave the tiresome job. Former ones live to maintain their standard while the latter ones live for the survival. The consumption pattern is unequally different. But there are others who rebel against the structures. Their economy is entirely different. Conflict economies, especially the rebellions, are funded with extortion money or taking hold of the country’s exports but in Kashmir nothing like that happened.

Three policemen, who died yesterday, would have worn their uniforms as they would do every working day. As we know that people make not only rational choices but rational calculations as well, they have made the choice of killing or dying the day they got the copy of the order of the job in their hands. It is the nature of their job that they would be either fortunate to kill or unfortunate to die at any encounter with rebels. I will not go here with the history of police and its transformation since 1990s. At every level, they had choice to quit.

​People who juxtapose the two concepts of survival and maintaining standard should never argue on moral principles for a well built healthy person, policemen are selected on that basis only, can do anything for the survival in the valley. Moreover, you might be wondering that why I didn’t use shaheed for them is because they aren’t treated so in our society. They are shrouded and bathed. Somewhere the general assumption, “Balai Tsinhus” is living in our subconscious. Proving arguments wrong doesn’t make me able to prove who is innocent or who isn’t? But, it conveys that being selective in our approach to justice is problematic.

​Rebels who die every day for the cause are generally put into the category of “Balai Tsinhus.” However, their funerals attract larger crowds and their martyrdom is revered forever. In last four days, eleven people have been killed in Kashmir, out of whom seven were alleged rebels, three policemen and one army trooper. Rebels aren’t generally seen with much money. Their children or next to kin haven’t build castles out of their earnings either. The situation, however, is different for the government-uniformed men. 

Take an example of Engineering student turned rebel of Tral. Who forced him to fight against the Indian occupation? Did he go by choice? What else but the occupational apparatus determined that choice? Considering the military presence in the valley, he knew he wouldn’t live for long. He won’t earn anything. He won’t have provident fund or life insurance at his disposal. In spite of all this, he joined rebels. Wasn’t he innocent too? It is the nature of his job too that he will get killed at any encounter. But just because he doesn’t have the state-brandished khaki doesn’t strip him off of his innocence. Seeing it via different angle, he is a social activist who stands against the oppression done to his fellow citizens.

​Imagine if there was no occupation in the first place. Rebels would have been somewhere living their life. These policemen would have been with their families now and we of all the people wouldn’t have been discussing who is or who isn’t innocent? We are not taken as party to the conflict but when it comes to suffering we are the lone party along with some individuals from across the border. If we are here discussing our moral or political rights, then we ought to accept that political rights surpass individual moral paradigms. Isn’t it why the states or nations were formed? The logic is simple, if policemen are innocent because they are compelled by the ‘economic’ reasons; you need to judge rebels on the same parameters for they have other, say Religio-political, reasons.

History of Career, and IAS in Kashmir


Career can be defined as, “The general progression of your working or professional life” or “The particular occupation for which you are trained.” The history of career can be traced to 16th century, but the modern concept of career is the product of industrial age during which most individuals were employed by large organizations whose primary purpose was producing tangible product. In that epoch, work was concentrated in employment, learning was concentrated in education, and education preceded employment. Before the industrial age, a person was seen a cog in the societal wheel, unlike today’s individual who is recognized as what he has made of himself than what he was composition of: family, language, culture, place, etc. Thanks to the growing inequality in the present world, some societies were prevented from adopting this individual notion of recognition.

Adam smith’s law of division of labour gave rise to specification in vocations. People started reducing their efforts to one part of job in order to do it more effectively and efficiently. There has since been no other path but specification that provided advancement and promotions to culminate the organizational ladder. But this monotonic transformation of career ladder could be best described in an industrial society with predominance of large hierarchical, monolithic organizations. However, in a contemporary globalized information society, organizations prefer to be flatter, decentralized and small with an increase in temporary and contingent employment. In this kind of system career progress is a bit complex with non-linear moves in both time and space dimension. The time dimension addresses the roles that an individual play and the space dimension illustrates the social setting in which the role is played.

Career reached us with a higher opportunity cost of giving up knowledge. In our high school, most of us were taught that there is not a single disadvantage of knowledge, surely there isn’t. However, the knowledge was reduced to knowing few things about USA, the president of UNO, Prime Ministers and Capitals of countries et al thereby making us unable to question such controlled established structure. Even if someone was really bold enough to question that structure, he was shoved away by labeling him as a communist, a pessimist or simply but humiliatingly a failure. The conformity is still in vogue.

According to Eric Fromm, modern man has freed himself from different social, religious or cultural ties. But the “freedom from” these ties has exposed him to vulnerability. He has come into a stage which Fromm calls Individuation. “Freedom from” something could only mean progress if it is “Freedom to” something more advanced than the forgone one. Unfortunately, it is still unclear to modern individual. He is in the chains of weakness and powerlessness due to the individuation (read alienation) of modern capitalist societies. Industrialization has provided him with opportunity according to his ability but in a wider circle his choices are being determined. The irony of the modern individual is that his identity or existence is defined by the job he does. Only those abilities are seen as progressive that could transform into commercial benefits. This is the reason that ‘education’ is seen as divine since it increases your productivity in producing goods and services, thereby your chances of earning more than less educated ones.

Equally, modern societies or nations (will use them synonymously because after French Revolution this has been so) have different approaches to designating something divine: in a capitalist society, stockbrokers and tycoons are seen as role models; in a religious nation, head clerks are seen as role models, and similarly in an occupied territory people who can provide security to your family are looked upon as models. However, in an occupied society, the collective notion about role models fluctuate with the transfer of power; if the Guerillas are stronger, their commanders are role models for the majority and if the collaborators have made fortunes, which they often do, they are looked upon as models. In Algeria, FLN was seen as role model only after they defined their enemies and succeeded in getting rid of them, obviously that included civil servants too.

In the Kashmiri society, the transformation has taken place a bit differently, mostly judged by survival instinct and heroism. The careers have taken not only different but opposite shapes too. When the militancy was at its peak, everyone wanted to be one. After the era passed, there emerged a different notion for KAS (Kashmir Administrative Service) officers since most of them were given safe passage by Indian forces, including ikhwan, during that period. Kashmiri militants won’t hurt them either, since they saw them as unfortunate necessacity or something not so important. The collective subconscious started prioritizing it until such jobs became dogmatic.

IAS (Indian Administrative Service) was felt nobody’s cup of tea except for Pandits and Peers –only class which dominated the education and job sector. Even in that class IAS was felt as rocket scientist’s job. After the nineties, the socio-economic structure changed in Kashmiri society. Due to the flight of Kashmiri Pandits and the armed rebellion, power also transferred to different lower income families. In spite of that peers still hold if not dominate the education and job sector. Lately, after the Shah Faisal’s topping the IAS, a utopian hope reverberated across J&K. People started pushing their children for it. Tens of thousands of candidates from J&K visit Delhi every year to receive coaching to crack this exam.

Kashmiri society has made IAS as something more worthy than performing Hajj. I have seen JamaiteIslami people, who once left all kinds of jobs in pursuit of Freedom from Indian occupation, exclaiming ‘Masha Allah’ when someone cracks IAS or KAS in their acquaintance. People who go for IAS or military services have their personal choice; no matter choice is determined by the socio-economic apparatus you live in. However, attributing divinity to the IAS or to any governmental job is problematic. It not only normalizes the conflict but it puts every form of resistance at stake. Divinity is a form of dependence.

This isn’t any competition, this is monopsony. There are thousands of ways of serving society and civil service is everything except serving. Why is it seen as ‘mother’ of all exams across India is because it makes you the part of India’s power apparatus that determines your qualification for country’s policy formulation. The volume of ‘competition’ reflects the best chances of getting the best ones. Let’s do an imaginary exercise here. What would happen if all the aspirants have two digits IQ (Again their way of measuring human capabilities)? Will it still be considered mother of all exams? If world’s best lot goes for this exam, will those who couldn’t make it be considered stupid? Why is the assumption that exams in general are the reflection of the educational performance of a student not questioned? Is it because of the scarcity of the job that it has been rendered divine in Kashmir or in India? Well, Kashmir doesn’t have many scientists, pilots, writers, astronomers, entrepreneurs and even militants are in lesser number than the accumulated IAS officers; aren’t these divine too? Well, the problem lies somewhere else. Taking Eric Fromm’s explanation of modern man’s powerlessness further, it won’t be a mistake in saying that man’s –if he is not resisting the occupier’s oppression –only pursuit to safeguard his present and future interests in a conflict zone lies in attaching himself to the occupier’s power apparatus.

Career is an economic phenomenon and it has emerged as such. However, when you are living in an occupied territory and you choose to work in an occupier’s administration, then it becomes a political phenomenon. And work has a hierarchy –that is, relation between at least two parties in which one is considered superior to the other –that does not tend to operate at reciprocity at all. There is no exchange. And when there is no exchange, production can’t be shared, hence nothing can be changed. It goes without saying that the space provided by the occupier is always in the best interests of the occupier than it is in the interests of the occupied.

Khalid Fayaz

Masters in Economics, University of Jammu.













The Genesis of a New Kashmiri

This paper deals exclusively with the transformations and cognitive dissonance of a Kashmiri Muslim, who has escaped various processes that are moulding the contemporary outer world, particularly living in the Vale.

Conflict induces different mechanism in the cognitive development of all species including humans. The life in the conflict zone, where mind is always searching for the alarms in order to reduce the implications of coming threat, becomes like witnessing the series of incidents where one’s role is nothing but to survive. Since safety is preferred over adventure, every savor goes out of life. Among other changes in the process of thinking; distrust, chaos, anger, pretence and judging every second person with suspicion becomes order of the day. In this kind of world, the thoughts are built on other person’s disequilibrium rather than the ostensible equilibriums.

               The mystic culture tainted with the body politic, where no role of the people dwelling in the conflict is felt, creates infernal traits of despair and desolation. Religious conservatism and the sense of security go hand in hand. The most pernicious implications of conflict are manifested in a person in the form of impotency and delirium. Always feeling like being sentimental, the one living in conflict area can’t think fast. The mind is full of harsh experiences that add to the inability to think outside the conflict zone. A lone wolf, he is powerless and abandoned.

Since the present epoch is the age of consciousness and rational enquiry, Afzal Guru’s hanging has luminously clarified to the Kashmiri collective conscious that they remain the prototype of ‘other’ in the Indian collective conscious. The questions of existence and identity are revised time and again. The natural attitude of Kashmiris towards India has become one of contempt mingled with fear; where they feel themselves more civilized but politically impotent than the latter.

Subjectivity and oversimplification leaves a person filled with chaos. Chaos raises practical urgent problems which should be dealt with institutions and modes of thought but due to lack of space for cultivation of both, Kashmir is forged into not unlike the seventeenth century Hopital General of Paris, or the great confinement.

After the Haider hit the silver screen, Kashmiri, fortunately, was not lost in the distractions movie managed to carry along with some sentimental events. He knows that he is, time and again, misrepresented and the movie shows little than it conceals. 

Shahnaz bashir’s account of the female version is closely restricted to their loss of status which makes them half in every aspect of relationships. Every kashmiri women lives as half since the relations fall apart; she is a half mother, a half girlfriend, a half widow, a half sister but ironically a full victim. She is struggling to live in full instead of the half. Undoubtedly, in the present epoch, she stands with her male counterpart not only psychologically or as a witness of suffering but in the mainstream struggle; in ragda and in stone pelting if not otherwise.


While Rahul Pandita’s novel-cum-memoir’s Kashmiri Muslim was roaming around the premises of aristocratic Hindu families, that of Arif Ayaz Parrey’s short story, Two Faces of Janus, is transformed into a much complex educated being whose strenuousness lies in the gun in nineties and in the stone during the 2010 intifada. He accumulates his dexterity from both natural and social sciences and from the day to day experiences. The other story, Lies at Work, creates a dichotomy; of a civil services aspirant and of the one who is skillful but refuses that choice simply because of the collaboration element in the job. The mainstream Kashmiri-Muslim-youth takes himself out of vicious circles  of administration let alone voting, which is perverted as referendum by Indian government and its subterfuge media icons, et al. This makes him voluntary-alienated being whose heroes are the rebels instead of the televised ones.

As his volition is always Azadi, even his minute vocation, as he believes, takes him a step further towards Azadi than he would otherwise be. He has surpassed the world of Fanon’s wretched of the earth and has taken himself to somewhat higher level; that of Guevara’s tactics or Mao’s Fundamentals.

The one created by Mirza Waheed is a melancholy-optimist. Mirza revisits memories and unites him on the principle of common suffering.

 At the same time new Kashmiri leaves traditional approach of religious stereotyping that gives him some air in the suffocating world of terrorism. He takes cent percent advantage of breathing that rival-air where he has to compromise partly for choice-less survival. Nothing makes him exclusive in fighting for injustice. He stands with and for everybody under oppression: be it always resisting Palestinian; be it beleaguered Syrians; be it always suffering Pakistani Shia community; be it accusative Indian Muslims, who suffer intermittently via different paradigms of communalism in different areas. The only way to show his support is through protest, which is apart from coming on streets via graffiti, social networking and writing. All these ways of protesting have as much cost, and sometimes more, as the one he is protesting for.

The process of metamorphoses from a illiterate, powerless Kashmiri to the one who is educated to the level that he gives equal competition to the indigenous Bengali or Keralite, who has centuries old systematic education legacy; and from a mute in unwritten, which is otherwise untrue, history to the one who speaks many languages; of tongue, of gun and of the stone apart from the radically strong pen.

The poetry, whether contemporary or that of Azad’s and Mehjoor’s exhorts him to stay put in resisting the day in and day out oppression.

Among the other cards of postmodernism, fragmentation was used to suppress the rebellions or any other voice against injustice. The new Kashmiri has outlived that stage; he tries to build new relations with his Pandit brethren, Ladaki and Jammuite and meanwhile searches, mostly googles, any Kashmiri from across the LoC.

The innumerable events of artifices and deceptions, where Kashmiris were the primary losers, have made them to resort to the new tactics of struggle for freedom.

A new Kashmiri portrays himself within the global pictures of politics, media and economics. He has surpassed the phases of human rights discourses and the movies or dramas aired by non-Kashmiri about Kashmir issue which seems to him unworthy of mentioning beyond the casual discussions.

Lack of research and data about the present moves of a new Kashmiri creates a void in the minds of analyzers. To where he is leading is uncertain, but different threads lead us somewhere near certainty. Although, we can never be justified in feeling certainty, some things are more likely to be true than other things. Most probable of the possible hypothesis show that the chunk comprising new Kashmiris is progressing at an increasing rate. They implicitly carry the brutal past, disorderly present and contrived but hopeful future. If development means progress toward concept of freedom and innovation, then, that is to say, New Kashmiri is treading the right path

When earthquakes hit, flyovers are first casualty in Kashmir

After watching Sherlock season 2, I found that people like me are stupefied as often as we let ourselves be. Although it is true that no one in the real world could be such an observant and never at that velocity as Sherlock Holmes, but nobody can’t just ignore whatever he observes providing the ability or talent to observe –which depends on how prolonged ones acquisition of cultural capital had been.

Anyways, one can’t just let his emotions control the way he wants to. Emotions make us attached to something and hence affect or at least tilt our power of thinking towards the attached thing. So, being an insider in Kashmir, I always blamed outsiders for not understanding whatever was going on in Kashmir. In other words, I blamed them for not being Sherlock Holmes. How could it be that they understand the things the way we perceive them here? But I ask myself that have I understood things the way I should have? Beep…

The story went on. Until I should perceive things as an outsider I can’t understand what is going on? But again, I was not Sherlock Holmes. Being an insider, I had to go along with the narratives that were swirling on the socio-economic fabric of our society and more so I had to deal with my sensitivity if not my other emotions like fear and anger. The best way, as I thought, to deal with it was to see it as an outsider while being an insider; the whole thing real except for the observant eye that I had to develop.

Jahangir chowk Flyover, srinagar
Jahangir chowk Flyover, srinagar
Since I am studying economics which is as dry as Sherlock Holmes is for Indian audience, I started thinking about the social overhead capital of Kashmir valley, which was not actually there, thanks to the collaborators-cum-corrupt politicians and, sorry to say that, Engineers. Social overhead capital, in case you are wondering, makes up roads, public buildings and other infrastructure including Flyovers. I think I should say flyover instead of flyovers with an ‘S’ because I don’t think others are operating or they will be anytime soon. Hyderpora flyover is another one if it be called so. Anyways, flyover at Jahangir Chowk Srinagar, the sole one that is operating in the valley, has developed a crack during the last 7.7 earthquake that occurred in the Hindu Kush mountain range of Himalayas.

With no surprise to Kashmiris, the flyover, like every other government infrastructure, is crumbling since the day it was built. Now, the question I am asking is that where does the money that is not invested in the social overhead capital go? Broadly speaking, this is a macro rather than micro economic question. If you see Jammu city, its social overhead capital is marvelous compared to Srinagar. Still Jammuites blame that people of the valley snatch too many funds. Perhaps, they are right. And the people belonging to the valley have become more envious since the day Udhampur-Jammu highway was thrown open to the public. They are right too. While the former is right at the microeconomic level, the later is so at macroeconomic level. One could clearly observe in Jammu that the real estate sector is very small compared to Srinagar. I am comparing it with Srinagar because they are the two capitals and demographic distribution is almost same in terms of density per square kilometer. Whatever housing there is in the outskirts of Jammu city it also belong to the people of valley, even in the vicinity as well.

Jammu city
Jammu city
One does not need to be Sherlock Holmes to decipher the conclusion. If we rely on the observations, then one can clearly see that hotels being built in Kashmir valley are hardly owned by the businessmen. Either they belong to politicians or to engineers. The most fascinating thing about these hotels is that none of the owners have borrowed loans from the bank. They built those with their own capital. And yes, capital drawn out of their labour and not inherited one. Will someone please tell me what their pay scale is and how much one can save after building such a beautiful house and after educating their children in Convents and Biscos and not to mention the changing cars after every decade? In case you are curious, most of these hotels are being built in places where there is no tourist spot at all. While those hotel owners which are in this business are making losses, see the daily reports of Pahalgam hoteliers and those around the Dal, what are those hotels being built for? Perhaps that is idle money and they don’t have to pay interest to the



, since they have taken no loans. In the near future, Kashmiri politicians and engineers will be buying the apple orchards, building nursing homes, law colleges, BEd colleges, and what not but Kashmir will still be devoid of engineering colleges.Moreover, if you compare both cities, i.e. Jammu and Srinagar, with Himachal Pradesh, the difference is not inconspicuous. How is it linked to the political economy of conflict? You gotta ask yourself.

An author whose work is wedded to Huzun

By Khalid Fayaz Mir

The Book of Gold Leaves 

Author: Mirza Waheed

Publishers: Penguin;

Pags: 352

Like his earlier book, The Collaborator, Mirza Waheed delicately carries Huzun in his recent one, The Book of Gold Leaves, as well. The word huzun, which is commonly translated as melancholy, has its origin in the Arabic language and it entered the Islamic terminology when the Prophet (PBUH) lost his uncle Abu Talib and his wife Khadijah after returning from the three-year boycott by the pagans of Makkah, with his family and followers. The year is recorded as the Aam-al-huzun (the year of melancholy) by some historians, owing to the loss of the political support with which Abu Talib used to shield his nephew and the psychological support that Hazrat Khadijah would offer.
The siege of Kashmir became visible after the manipulation of the 1987 electoral system. The 1987 elections proved to be the last hope of any solution in the domain of democracy and taking up arms was seen as the only alternative to ending the crucible that Kashmir has been in ever since. The plot of The Book of Gold Leaves begins after this incident. Although melancholy has a long history in Kashmir, this “madness at the limits of its powerlessness” has reverberated in the Kashmiri Diaspora since the 1989 war of resistance.
Waheed does not tell unusual stories; the incidents of the book are not hard to believe, considering its setting. The controversial scenes of violence, sectarianism and communalism serve a useful purpose in helping the reader understand its theme and characters, who are real, well-rounded people, having both good and bad qualities. Everyone in the Muslim community has a single purpose: to throw out the occupiers of their land. That purpose is engraved in their minds, so much so that it crushes all the vices of sectarianism. Roohi’s father, Kabir Khan, speaks to the protagonist, Faiz, about his awareness of the era that leaves hardly any time “to think of such things, you know, Sunni, Shia, et cetera…”
However, that unity is seen as a threat by the occupier’s army and in its response they create a local group called the New Salvation Front, headed by a reluctant mullah, Panther, who is instrumental in having Roohi’s father killed by the local administration. Khan Saeb is eliminated by the same secretary of the DC who assigns him the job of preparing a census for the locality. The plot is perfectly intelligible and the incidents tell the story well. The author has paced the plot without boring patches in the middle or an unhurried ending. The dialogues not only seem appropriate to the speakers, but also add to the reader’s understanding of the characters and help to advance the plot of the book.
The properly integrated descriptive material evokes in the reader’s mind a vivid and interesting picture of the city of Srinagar, which the novel revolves around. However, the book fails to give any idea of the “country without a post office” outside the city. Equally, there is no representation of any other minority except the Pandit community in the 330-page narration. It would have been more interesting if there had been an account of a young male Pandit in the story, considering the patriarchal society that the novel shows the reader.
The historical setting comes alive and encourages readers to suspend their disbelief and enter the world that the novel creates. The title zaal (trap) is a perfect metaphor for the disappearances of the family and friends of the main characters. Most of the Kashmiris cannot understand that trap and why it is set for innocent Kashmiris. Melancholy imbues the book with both patronising and ironic styles. The language cunningly echoes the themes of the incidents to convey scenes of love and conflict. If not for the names of places, the Kashmiri spelling of names, such as mouj for mother, the suffix saeb for sahab (sir) and patches of Urdu poetry are as aptly placed as they are chosen for the book.
Faiz’s elder brother, Mir Zafar Ali’s reply to his neighbour Dinnath, when he comes to say good bye – “Must you punish us all for the sins of the few? – highlights the innocence of the majority of Kashmiri Muslims in the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. The Pandits leave the keys of their houses with their Muslim neighbours, claiming that “it [departure] is only for a few weeks”. This plot also gives the account of those who stayed, like Principal Shanta Koul, in spite of losing both the “only man she ever loved, a Muslim, Syed Afaq Bukhari” and her father, Professor Madanlal Koul, to either of the parties involved in the conflict. The communal harmony between Muslims and Pandits, unlike most other story tellers, is not fictionalised but subtly moderated.
The Book of Gold Leaves argues with the common euphemisms associated with Kashmir, to undermine the significance of its people and even blame them for contaminating the “paradise for imperial pleasures”. It highlights the paradox of many pseudo-intellectuals who, like army Major Sumit Kumar in the novel, appreciate their forefathers for resisting the British Raj in India but reluctantly deny that right to others in the present. Kashmiris remain the archetype of the other, pressured to become loyal national citizens of India and Pakistan. This idea is substantiated in the novel, when the army major claims that he was protecting Shanta Koul’s country, who in turn blatantly replies, “I have no country but home and it is here.” Major Kumar expresses his hatred for the Kashmiris: “It’s the truth. I don’t know these people, they are not my people, no part of who I am, not part of my story.” He divisively says, “You are not one of these people” to Shanta Koul, who replies, “And you think you are my people?”
The book, while tracing the resistance movement, conspicuously illustrates the fervour and support that every Muslim sect shows while dealing with the “evil” occupier. The book illustrates many heart throbbing sufferings that women endure due to the decisions that only men can make in that part of the world. But paradoxically, it also shows how their psychological support is always there for their male counterparts as they witness every event silently, enduring it all and waiting for things to change while feeling powerless. The novel chronicles the journey of love and conflict simultaneously. While the latter makes love unbearable, love keeps life afloat while dreading conflict. The book ends with the unsolicited loss of everything and that is what the story of Kashmir is all about.

(The reviewer is a freelancer based in Anantnag, IJK. He graduated in BA (Hons) Economics, from Aligarh Muslim University)

This edition, including the description about me, of the review was published in Daily Times, Pakistan on June 23rd, 2015.