It is some days since I interviewed Adil, Farhan and Danish but their words and revelations still ring in my ears. How many times have you heard a young Kashmiri say that they have been hearing “azadi” slogans and provocative “pro jihad” speeches inside the Masjids themselves in Kashmir since their childhood? (many mosques in Kashmir are under the headship of separatists instead of designated Imams, like the Masjid in Hyderpora , Srinagar, is under Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Jama Masjid in Nowhatta, Srinagar, under Mirwaiz Farooq who mostly conduct the Friday prayers depending on their availability). Yes and these three had mustered up all the courage to tell me all about it and much more despite being repeatedly threatened by some student members of All India Jammu and Kashmir Students’ association and some people they couldn’t place, but strongly believed were associated actively with the extremists.
The threats started all of a sudden when they associated themselves with peace organisations, started registering their pro-nation opinions on different forums and downright rejecting separatist and rabid ideas. Threats advanced from terrorising to threatening to kill when Adil, Farhan and Danish started an attempt to engage other Kashmiri youth in the valley. Jolting it was that the threatening calls didn’t only come from different places of Kashmir, but also from cities like Chandigarh and even from the nation’s capital. They revealed it all, exposing the intent and the malicious ulterior motives of most of the separatists and how they used the religious rostrums to provoke anti-Indian sentiment. “Barood ban jao” was just one such slogan used to ignite people against their own country. No wonder, we have sudden escalations in incidents of stone pelting right after the Friday namaz. Every revelation shocked me even more. I was left aghast to discover that now a whole new dimension to render mental bankruptcy was operational in the valley. It was drugs.
It was alarming that most of the stone pelters caught and detained by the police were high on drugs even during the act. They want money for drugs and for that they are ready to pelt stones, shout slogans and brandish Pakistani flags, anything and everything. Where do they get it from? Well, the drugs range from “charas” extracted from poppy cultivated very much in the valley itself, to even medicines used as drugs, available in general medical stores without a prescription in ten times the price. A senior police officer in Srinagar, not wanting to be named, said that the alarming increase over the last five years had made them open de-addiction centers in every district. He said it was getting tougher to deal with misguided, lost and aimless youth involved in such acts with every passing day. Most of them are paid on a daily basis, and some made us believe that these twelve and fifteen year olds, too, wanted “azadi” for their land. Is it hard to beleive this for a state where every other day a strike is called, schools and colleges remain closed and the youth have neither education nor entertainment to come to their rescue ? Adil told me of incidents where groups of even girls from women’s college was caught taking drugs recently. Any normal looking local could be a prime agent in the flow of the same with roots associated with separatists or deeper still with either terror outfits or even across the border. It is a lucrative career option that also makes the youth appear to be fighting for their land, a belief propagated also by these violence mongers to attract more and more. It is more vicious and excruciating than one can gauge.
It’s been a thorough circle rehearsed and executed again and again, giving results each time, incorporating the designs to alienate the local from their own forces with every such action. Danish said that there have been numerous incidents where the forces are blamed for even general local crimes of murder, theft and even rape, registered with the police and yet publicised as brutality by the forces. He goes on to ask how many Kashmiris would go about actually trying to find what was the actual truth behind any such crime?
Today, the situation does not allow Adil, Farhan and Danish to even let their family know where they live and what they do. The gaping reality is that they talked to me behind “naqabs” for fear of their life in their own land, for talking in the interest of their own nation, India.
Maitreyi Tripathyi is a Senior Producer/Anchor with India News.