September Issue 2019
The View from Within
“I’ve just returned from Kashmir & three things to note, particularly for those outside fed on stories of normalcy by embedded journalists.[Even if you support Modi, and think this might work, surely you’d want to know what’s really going on].
(1) Total Shutdown:3 weeks in, complete nonsense to suggest life is normal or that Kashmiris accept any of it. Valley remains in total paralysis; no shops, no internet, no schools, no phones. Nothing is open, nothing to do, nowhere to go. Large parts of Srinagar totally empty.
(2) Saturated Military Presence: I’ve visited many violence affected areas – but this is the most claustrophobic security force presence I’ve ever seen in a large urban area. It’s absolutely maddeningly oppressive. Soldiers, paramilitaries and police are literally everywhere.
(3) Politically Transformative: There’s absolute fury & anger everywhere, & it’s not going away. This amounts to collective punishment, humiliation and imprisonment and that’s the way it’s seen. It is definitely a historic tipping point but not in the direction Amit Shah wants.
Let me add – locking up leadership hasn’t stopped the bandh. The present shutdown in Kashmir is voluntarily observed, and total – not called by any party or leader (entire political leadership is anyway in custody, incommunicado). That’s quite significant in itself.
Finally-absolutely critical Indians open their minds to what is going on & challenge disinformation & bigoted triumphalism. Switch off your TV, read a book & maybe go visit Kashmir & see what govt is doing in your name. People are as ever, exceptionally warm and hospitable.
Epilogue: yesterday I posted some personal observations from a trip to Srinagar. The angry responses from alumni of WhatsApp university all come down to two types- (1) “what you say is not true”; (2) “so what, they deserve it” anyway.””