Naveed Qadeer

Brutality Against Women. Beatings of Women. Torture of Women. Women Crying. Women Wailing. Women Held By Their Neck. Women Pulled By Their Hair. Women Accused. Women Stigmatized. Wife Held Responsible For The Sadistic Behaviour of Her Husband. Wife Chained And Held Like Animals. This is the gory content that Pakistani television serials beam into Kashmiri homes and into our smartphones every day. Mareaya Fayaz explores how marital violence and dystopian family alliances showcased in Pakistani TV serials is impacting Kashmir. Analysts of Kashmir’s contemporary history write that Pakistan’s dictator Gen Zia ul Haq initiated the rigorous project of Kashmir’s indoctrination into hardline Islam. Even though Gen Zia ul Haq died in a plane crash in 1988, by the early 90s the radicalization and deep indoctrination of Kashmir was in full swing. Pakistan pushed Kashmir into insurgency by changing the levers of Kashmir’s politics and making it separatist. This was and continues to be a political project for Pakistan.

Through the upheaval of terror and militancy, Kashmir remained moored to its traditional ways. Even though Islam allows a man to have four wives, there was no social sanction for multiple marriages in Kashmir. A second marriage was highly frowned upon in Kashmir society. The incidence was so low that a man’s taking a second wife made news within his community and area. There were other ways in which Kashmir was different as a society and civilization. Triple talaq was not practiced. Domestic violence was known to take place but the incidence was comparatively low. Now again, courtesy the influence of Pakistan, Kashmir is in the grip of cross-border social indoctrination. This time, the agency for indoctrination isn’t the Pakistani establishment, the ISI or the deep state. It is Pakistan’s soft power – its television serials. The Pakistani television serials, streaming into homes and smartphones across Kashmir have become the agency for indoctrination in Kashmir. Pakistani dramas are increasingly becoming a powerful and compelling medium to influence social shifts in Kashmir. In Edition 15 of Kashmir Central, we are chronicling some of the ways in which Pakistani TV serials are influencing and indoctrinating Kashmir society. When it comes to depicting nikaah or talaaq on screen, both require considerable sensitivity and nuance. Unfortunately, both have been trivialized in Pakistani television serials. Such dystopian scripting is common also in the serials produced and aired in the mainland. But they are not watched in Kashmir in large numbers, hence their influence is negligible comparatively.

Pakistani TV Content Became A Rage In Kashmir 2014 Onwards

Pakistani serials became a sensation in Kashmir around 2014. A cable TV channel named Zindagi started airing these serials and found a ready audience within Kashmir – particularly Kashmiri women. These women followed Pakistani bridal fashion. Hum TV and other channels like ARY Zauq and ARY Masala followed. Women followed these channels to learn new recipes. The romance serials and comedy shows became talking points in Kashmir. A number of channels from Pakistan and some from Saudi Arabia were commonly seen by the Kashmiri society. Among these were ARY Zauq, ARY Masala, ARY Zindagi, Hum TV, PTV Sports, Paigam, Karbala TV, Geo News, ARY News Asia, Duniya News and Samna News. These channels generate news and religious content as well as infotainment, sports, satire, comedy and food shows.

The television content flowing into Kashmir from across the border included Peace TV English and Peace TV Urdu. These are owned by Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who is on the run from the Indian authorities and is under investigation for terror links. In 2017, 34 television channels being broadcast from abroad were banned in Kashmir, apparently because they have the potential to disturb “peace and order”. The banning of the Pakistani channels was seen as an attack towards the people of Kashmir. It was criticized by then chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and also Hurriyat. The move was called as an attempt to “hurt the collective psyche of Kashmiris” through this “cultural aggression and politics of invasion”. The ban did not stop the Pakistani serials from flowing into Kashmir. By now, most of the serials were available on YouTube. They continue to remain popular in Kashmir and are easily accessible to anyone interested in watching them. While discussing the content of the television serials aired from Pakistan, I am reminded of how the serials on Ekta Kapoor were hated for their content. Even though many people admit that the content was ridiculous and corrupted the brains of youngsters, the serials continued to have high rating. It is the same with many serials aired from Pakistan. The content debases common family relationships. But the major issue of concern is that nobody is talking about the influence of these serials upon Kashmiri society.

PAKISTANI TV SERIALS ARE NORMALIZING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN KASHMIR

Pakistani serials are increasingly emerging as a visual medium to promote domestic violence. Despite having a solid plot, storyline, faultless acting, and skilled direction, the themes, and content of Pakistani dramas cause more harm than good to the Kashmiri community. The obsession of Kashmiris with Pakistani serials is of another level. Over the years, these serials have gained huge popularity in Kashmir. These serials have a huge audience here, and people watch these dramas for entertainment. Sadly, there is no discussion in Kashmir on the deeply regressive content of these serials. There is no realization that serials which promote steep male chauvinism may be a bad influence on our society which already discriminates against women. If we look at television content worldwide, we shall find that it covers a wide range of topics. Television serials cover different genres from politics to science fiction and suspense thrillers. However, when we look at Pakistani plays, we find that the majority of them feature domestic violence, women as victims, second marriages, extramarital affairs and Triple Talaq. The popularity of this content in Kashmir reveals that it is being appreciated by the people.

Qayamat ranks among the highly popular Pakistan television series in Kashmir. One of the most-watched episodes of this series was the one in which a female character is brutally beaten by her husband. It is unfortunate that the stories of women’s physical and emotional abuse attract a lot of attention and generate high revenue for the makers. But how this TRP game is damaging minds and molding public opinion in Kashmir is something that no one is taking note one. The episode in which a woman was beaten mercilessly by her husband was watched so much that it became the highest-rated episode.

We need to observe this carefully. The regressive and deplorable content that should be rejected in disgust is being watched intently and obsessively. Sadly, such content that has been watched since years is now normalizing domestic violence within Kashmir society. This was already a pain point for the women of our society who have suffered domestic violence. The Pakistani serials are only making the situation worse.

INFLUENCING SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

The society’s perspective on gender roles and the ramifications of marriage is one of the most powerful variables that determine social acceptance of domestic violence. The commonly perceived and accepted gender roles in a society give sanction to domestic violence. In many Arab and Asian civilizations, women are regarded to belong to their husband’s agnatic group. In these societies, it is a widely held belief that women are the family’s property and may be controlled as needed. This is specifically deeply entrenched in the Pakistani society. Such deep-seated patriarchal minds normalize domestic violence in Pakistan. Unfortunately, the continued impact of regressive television serials is leading to higher incidence of domestic violence in Kashmir. The continued absorption of Pakistani television content has made us consider domestic violence as ‘okay’, and something that happens or is justifiable.

THE PROMOTION OF FAMILISM OVER INDIVIDUAL WELL-BEING

 A social pattern in which the family assumes a position of ascendance over individual interests. There is a tendency in many cultures to respect familism and prioritize the wellbeing of the family over the well-being or the choice of the individual. The matter of concern is that cultures of familism add to the prolonged acceptability of abusive behaviour. Familism is common in collectivist societies. It can help to facilitate and sustain physical and emotional abuse inside families. This happens by effectively deterring victims from seeking outside assistance or even identifying their treatment as abusive. This is also a very common pattern in Pakistani television serials. A familiar thread in the serials is that the husband abuses and beats the wife after being brainwashed by his mother and sisters. The abused wife continues to believe that she should endure domestic violence as her divine duty.

PAKISTANI TV SERIALS ARE NORMALIZING MULTIPLE MARRIAGES

A study being done on the contribution of mass media towards an increase in domestic violence also spoke to various religious leaders. The study established that no religion promotes violence against women or divorce.

So we have a dual play here. We see Pakistan projecting itself as the saviour of Muslims. At the same time, Pakistan is promoting a toxic masculinity which sanctions domestic violence and divorce. The television serials of Pakistan reflect the same pattern. Toxic masculinity, women suffering abuse, domestic violence, divorces. Pakistani television serials are indoctrinating Kashmiri society by promoting the same patterns here. I don’t know if the Pakistani television studios are aware of how Kashmiri society has become a fertile ground for Pakistan to embed the notion of destructive and violent male chauvinism. Socially, multiple marriages have been an anathema in Kashmir. The impact of Pakistani mass media is changing this. One can observe the shift in Kashmir society. The notion of multiple wives is getting normalized. The instant pronouncement of triple talaq to divorce the wife is getting normalized. The notion of beating the wife is getting normalized. This is the indoctrination we are suffering at the hands of the Pakistan mass media. Indoctrination – the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically. Why is this shift in Kashmir being regarded as indoctrination? Because though Kashmir and Pakistan follow the same religion – Islam, at a civilizational and social level, we are starkly different communities. Kashmir has civilizationally been known for its liberal, accommodative ethos regarding women’s rights.

This is changing. Our society is incorporating the trends of men opting for multiple marriages, the instant pronouncement of Triple Talaq and wife beating. In social discussions, one can hear men say that it is okay to beat one’s wife if she does not do what the husband expects from her. Astoundingly, one can watch even women express this opinion. In many such discussions, reference is made to the contemporary Pakistani serials. Pakistani script writers seem to have a horrific agenda at hand – turning the male generation into sadistic husbands and the women into submissive wives. In Kashmir, their script is being given social sanction.

BAND KHIRKIYAN – CLOSING THE WINDOWS OF LIFE

I was particularly disturbed by one of the serials titled Band Khirkiyan, which translates to closed windows. The male protagonist is shown as an over-protective, over-possessive stalker of a husband. He wants his wife to be around him all the time and seeks her attention every second. When this does not happen he beats her and abuses her constantly. The 28 episodes of the series are focused on how the husband isolates his wife from her sister and father. All through this, he somehow sets a vibe that this is love –he supposedly loves his wife so much that he only wants to keep her for himself. The man feeds his wife contraceptives without her knowledge because he can’t share her with a child. This portrayal of love is again so toxic. It seeks to establish that love means to own your wife, and keep her revolving around yourself. By the end of the show, both husband and wife are involved in a car accident. The wife goes into coma and the husband is sad that he “broke his possession”. He repents, wife regains consciousness, goes with her husband because “he changed”. Like most Pakistani serials, this series too promotes male chauvinism. The premise is that women are possessions of men. A husband can treat his wife any way he likes, and his sorry will set everything right. The messaging of all serials seems to be the same – that women should endure all pain, and at the end everything will be okay. This is the messaging for men and women alike. Treat your wife as your possession. Beat her, torture her, make her life a living hell because you have got control over her body and her mind. When she is on her death bed, apologize. Then all the trauma that the woman has suffered should supposedly get erased, and both of them can go singing in gardens.

EACH SERIAL ENCOURAGES WOMEN TO KEEP SUFFERING

Marital rape is wrapped and packaged in ways to make it acceptable. The messaging is that it is okay to rape your wife if she is a little aloof. At the end the man says sorry and his abused, tortured, assaulted wife goes back to him. Each serial encourages its victims to keep suffering. Each abuser receives exactly what she stayed back for. My heart cries for all those women who may be in similar circumstances and may be told to continue suffering in hell. These serials are easily accessible on YouTube. They are popular not just among women but men too. Perhaps they fit well with the male chauvinist outlook. It is also a matter of concern to see men treating their wife as their property, which can be disposed of according to their needs. Like the protagonists of the series, the men feel that their wives should not be bothered by the constant abusive behavior of their husbands. A 32-year-old woman was recently set ablaze by her husband and her parents-in-law. According to her family, she endured a lot of domestic violence. She endured for long, and finally, she was killed. Is this acceptable for a society to lose its daughter this way? A few months ago a video went viral in Kashmir. The woman was pleading that her husband and parents-in-law are always beating her and that she is an orphan. It is tragic that women are targeted and victimized despite so many laws for their protection. It is even more tragic that she is victimized by the man who is supposed to be her saviour.

PAKISTANI TV SERIALS ARE NORMALIZING TRIPLE TALAQ

Marriage is a sacred rite in our culture and religion, establishing a lifelong link between two individuals and their families. Rights relating to marriage and divorce necessitate nuanced and informed debates.Pakistani serials have trivialized these social realities in order to create cheap thrills in the name of entertainment. In all the years of growing up in Kashmir, I had never heard of Triple Talaq. I read about it only in my law books. But I now realize that children in Pakistan would be very familiar with this usage right from their childhood. In Pakistani serials, the husband pronounces instant Triple Talaq, and the marriage ends. The scriptwriters of Pakistani serials have made a joke of a life-changing decision like divorce. In the series Meherposh, the female protagonist is divorced by her husband a few hours after marriage because he suspects her of having an affair before marriage. The message delivered is two-pronged. One, you can divorce a woman on the assumption that she had an affair before marriage. Second, you should divorce a woman if she had a past relationship. The male protagonist in the serial divorces his wife when his sister threatens him with suicide if he does not divorce her. The hero divorces his wife in the heat of the moment to please his sister. The female protagonist, unable to bear the situation any longer, commits suicide on the spot. When the hero reaches out to touch her, he is prevented from doing so because he has now become her namehram since their divorce. The impact of this dystopian social exposure is that there is an increasing trend among Kashmiri men of pronouncing instant Triple Talaqs to their wives for the most unfathomed reasons. To an ordinary woman like me, it is very disturbing and hurtful to witness these emerging trends in my society.

THE REGRESSION WE ARE WITNESSING IN KASHMIR

Kashmir, which was once a highly progressive society, seems to be regressing. The indoctrination by the Pakistani serials is aiding the decline. We are aware that the spouse has the legal and religious right to end a marriage by divorce. There are specific legal and religious requirements entailed in the entire process that the television serials either ignore or fail to adequately depict. What the viewers see and hear are the three dreaded words pronounced in quick succession. In Zebaish, a 55-year-old lawyer divorces his wife while marrying the widow of a former employee. The explanation offered is that the man was irritated that his wife was preoccupied with her profession and didn’t provide him with the attention that he desired. He divorces her at the request of his second wife. Let us analyze what is being showcased here. It is acceptable for a man to divorce his wife if she is career-oriented. It does not matter that they have been married for 25 to 30 years. In a society which is already patriarchal, the deepening of such notions can lead to disastrous consequences. For those who are easily influenced, such ideas can have a very negative impact. In Pakistani serials, happy marriages built on mutual love and respect is a rarity. When casual divorces happen in seconds, we are aware of the messaging to the society – that such conduct is normal and acceptable.

PAKISTANI TV SERIALS ARE IMPACTING THE PSYCHE OF WOMEN TOO

Numm, a Pakistani series, portrays a woman forced into a marriage with a young boy as a punishment for a crime committed by her male relative. When the boy grows into a man, he is married to a young girl “for having babies”.  The two-line explanation of this series says it all. First, a woman is fit to be punished for someone else’s crime. Why? Supposedly because the woman isn’t human. She exists simply for the convenience of men. The second construct here is that a woman is a baby-making machine. That is all there is to her.

There is another representation of the chauvinist culture shown in the series titled Muqaddar. A young woman is kidnapped for purpose of second marriage. And then begins the life of endless struggles for the poor soul. In a series titled Tera Gum Aur Hum, the man brings home a second wife. She was his former girlfriend and cousin. The examples are many. The Kashmir society traditionally did not accord social sanction to second marriage. Now the Pakistani serials are embedding the concept of multiple wives. Most Pakistani serials project overtly or covertly that it is acceptable that a man may need two or three wives, because one wife “cannot satisfy the needs of a man”.  Pakistani serials normalize the notion that a man needs multiple wives to fulfill his male ego and give him a sense of superiority. This is one of the ways in which our youth get indoctrinated. They have no idea of the injunctions in Islam regarding multiple wives. But they willy-nilly absorb what is shown in Pakistani TV serials – that having multiple wives is acceptable.

IN THE NAME OF ENTERTAINMENT, WOMEN’S RIGHTS ARE BEING ERASED

These serials impact not just the men. They impact the psyche of women too. Their message to women and girls is that you must continue to silently endure the mental and physical pain inflicted upon you. Living in an abusive, loveless marriage is acceptable because your suffering does not matter. The social optics – what the society will think – is projected as the only criteria that matters. These serials teach women that they must accept all abuse dished to them. They should take all beatings from their parents-in-law or from their husband because one day things will supposedly change. When the apology is offered by the offender, all hurtful past must be left behind as if it never happened. All this and more is being ingrained in the minds of our youth. In the name of entertainment, women’s rights are erased. They may be abused or beaten, but it must be endured for the sake of the husband and the family. These bizarre ideas must not be taken lightly, especially by women. Being Muslim women, we all must know that a husband cannot have authority over his wife. A Muslim man is not allowed to beat his wife or any other woman. Islam gives legal rights to women. They do not need to endure emotional or physical pain inflicted upon them by their husbands or parents-in-law. Kashmir needs to boycott such shows. Such negative emotions infiltrate into the minds of young viewers, which can have a disastrous impact.

ALSO IN PAKISTAN: HEAVY CRITICISM OF REGRESSIVE CONTENT OF TV SERIALS

These serials have generated a lot of criticism in Pakistan, mostly by women who know their rights. But such criticism is restricted to the urban pockets of Kashmir. Most Kashmiris tend to absorb what is dished out on television. Families and elders alike turn on their television sets in the evening and absorb the content in big and small ways. They do not give any thought to the consequences of such content on the minds of youngsters. Families watch such content in front of their children, unmindful of how their children are absorbing filth and wrong ideas through television content. Exposure to such regressive content causes lifelong patterns that define our relationships. Such exposure makes young men male chauvinists who believe that women need to be controlled and used for one’s own pleasure.

Courtesy: Kashmir Central

Kashmir lost a significant part of their population to the terrorism indoctrinated from the money-makers, a real threat to the peace in the valley. Our constitution gives freedom to practice and preach religion (Article 25 says “all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health.” Further, Article 26 says that all denominations can manage their own affairs in matters of religion.) But under immunity of the article viles like haterd, communalism rose with the constant support and sympathy to propagate the doctine. A huge number of lives were lost. At a single glance, things won’t seem stagnant for such a ruination, however the truth is covetous that ordinary researcher can’t find out. The approach is soft but the consistency in the operations of fueling the minds sow seeds which are highly contagious.

The day to day attacks though of low intensity is one culmination of such fortified indoctrination. It has several layers to reach, and it reaches the set target through reactions from the security network. Harsh reaction from the alert security forces cement the doctrination further. The cycle of violence is imbedded in the basic teachings, which otherwise is over-exageration of certain terms. Populace with meager knowledge fall easily to the tricks played. Making furious speeches in the places of public domain are drained for attention of the agencies, who infuse the amount to limp the situation some more.

What needs to be done is to create an indigenous hate for such events and the people carrying such activities, spread of the basic religious knowledge in people to undo the effect of these violent scribes. When people shall come on roads against the miscreants, they’ll down their towered ideas of hate. They should be asked for debates on the said topics, more reaseach scholars would be needed to tackle them. The truth shall prevail in all its situations and the crimes against humanity will start to fade.

Notedly, the great scholars of Islam were of Sufi Faction, who have a zero record of the violence. They’d preffered to preach in isolation. And none of the new style religious scholars have a spine to call them with stupidity or, outdate their scriptures. A revival for the sake of revival is direly required. If we dig deep into the discourse, we may find out terms – manipulated by preachers to score high in public domain, which earn them a huge money that too in name of the Allah. How absurd!

innocent Kashmiris must introspect to find them out, and read, listen to a person who’s not the enemy of Islam and a destructor of the Humanity. Islam means peace and where do we find peace now. just two days back, 24 people were wounded and two lost life. One an elderly man, another a 12th class topper, whose father toiled hard to rose her daughter as a son and to teach her MBBS. Frankly speaking, this isn’t peace anymore but rather something more dangerous and the menace is that the whole cycle moves inside the boundary of Islam. Its a blot on Islam, which we need to wipe out, as early as possible.

World had witnessed thousands of the armed battles, unquoted and quoted inside pages of the history. Vast kingdoms lost their per-eminence with an urge to head on for the fight the weak or subtle kingdoms. The warrior-ticket in the common minds consequently provided them an a substantial hype which furthered the greed for more wars or, battles. World lost the wise men; women and plot-bearers from the pulpit, where their roles could have stunned the mankind. But for the sake of dominance, those game-changers were swept away like dust from the ground by a brisk wind.

Collectively, we have lost the right to call ourselves seed of wake-up from this slumberous apathy which engulfed and is still catching the men into its black-hole. We often see for ourselves, how even with the slightest of knowledge- we spew out the hatred that costs loss of wealth; men, machinery and upper hand of dominance to undo the effect that once together we offered to the roots of the disease. We have had to spend huge budget on defending ourselves from the other fellow men ironically having body parts that we have. Where does the sequence go wrong?

The vile of dominance and war of perceptions bury the whole treasury of humanism and walk over it like a winner. Many parts of the world face separatism- sponsored by the hate-mongers for their welfare destabilizing the region. But once the plan is public the cleverly trick turns around like three fingers while pointing towards the one. Thus the best thing is to spread love, and do the rightful, needful and absorb the little drops of anger.

The whole world must learn from wars, merely destruction is the result. The money invested in war machinery if implemented in welfare activities, even stones start to melt. And the harms, losses of nearer and dearers can’t be thrown out of minds. Today’s endurance can lead to the better future tomorrow, where history would pick no trace for trickier to spread hatred . But if wounds remain increasing, the warmth of time won’t be able to solace the next generation of the victim.

No war can solve the conflict, it splits the opinions and ideologies come out with strength, where no butter in the world can satisfy its logic for the rise. A new era should erupt now to vanish all the gaps, differences and people should be loved more. Thus, a new future will emerge with fruits of development and no requirement of weaponry would be felt.

The 9th February, a date often manipulated by the Pakistan and its mercenaries to provoke the bad sentiments. It has only relevance with Kashmir though, the name of the terrorist and his residence. Whichever the place a terrorist belongs to, the result of his intentions is terrorism; causing harm to the innocent population of the country. It matters less, whether the terrorist belongs to Kashmir or, to Delhi. It’s the actions- playing in hands of someone else, that drags the inhumane-mentality to the worst character.

One such terrorist in person was Afzal Guru, for his involvement in the terrorism, he was hanged in Tihar Jail in New Delhi on Feb. 9, 2013 on charges of his involvement in the 2001 attack on parliament in which 14 people, including five gunmen, were killed. Pakistan continues to back the terrorists to destabilize the peace in our region. Moreover, it had resorted to such infamous tactics earlier and plans to do the same in future as well.

Pakistan has no sympathy for the Kashmiris but, they have always wished to unbalance the friendly relation of India and the Kashmir in particular. In the path to destabilize the region, they speak ill, to maintain their needless role in the region. Their only roles include enmity, protests backing, backing sloganeering and likewise. What they get in return is the distraction of in-state problems that they have been facing through decades, whether it be economy, political instability or, religious extremism.

For many years the Pakistan’s propaganda showed some results in the region Kashmir, but with the time they were exposed and the as of now, all their passive and active roles are crystal and clear before the people. Who in return respond to the atrocities that Kashmiris were subjected to, through three decades of their proxy war via Separatism, gun culture and the ideological battle. Now, it is in the greater interest of the common people to counter the forwarded propaganda and positively give out a shut-up call to them and their mercenaries.

This article is in continuation to the Article ‘Directing the Energies our Kashmiri Youth’

Arif Khan, a Kashmir born skier born in the hills of Gulmarg saw his dream turn into reality last year as he earned a spot at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. The Alpine skier from Kashmir is the lone Indian participant in the February 4-20 quadrennial event. The 31-year-old secured his berth in the Winter Olympics in a qualifying event in Dubai last year. On 01 Feb 2022, Arif left for the Chinese capital along with Chef De Mission Harjinder Singh and support staff. Arif will take part in the Slalom and Giant Slalom events which are scheduled to take place on Feb 13 & 16. Hailing from J&K’s Tangmarg area of Baramulla, Arif was introduced to the sport at a very young age by his father.

There are a lot of examples of the young Kashmiris making their country proud at various international pulpits, whether in games and sports, science and technology, literature, or in any other field. Proper guidance from the parents at a very young age is the basic thing that needs to be understood by all the people and the government to direct the energies of the youth.  This is the prime responsibility of the parents to ensure their future is in good hands, rather than playing in the hands of the inimical elements, whosoever. The gain of the opportunities at the specific time is requisite for securing the future of a happy home, and a free-of-confusion mind.

Many find it difficult to decide between one narrative and another, as many ideologies had had taken the free space in the mind of the youth— thus right from the inception of understanding in the children, the future mindset needs to be secured for positive phenomenon. We have experienced in many cases, the pollution of thoughts due to carelessness or, waywardness from the right context to be unrolled to the child leaves a negative impression on his mind, which creates a gap between the positive processes— nationalist, patriotic activities going around and the rebellious nature nurtured due various elements, whether due to the wrongful literature or, due to inimical elements.

Putting the things in line, the responsibilities lie deeper, multiplied, in order to shape the future of youth, eventually transforming the future of Kashmir. The loss of youth to terrorism is loss of huge wealth­— human resource, the gold in gold itself for excavation.

National Conference (NC) is one of the oldest regional parties in India formed in 1939. It evolved by challenging the feudal and autocratic rule and only this gained the party the widespread name. It gained dominance in 1975 and enjoyed pre-eminence for almost a century, it also faced a serious crisis of credibility in 1987 and went into hibernation in years of armed insurgency in 90’s and then returned back in 1996.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was another political party, established in 1999, provided an alternative to hegemony of NC Party. Initially, it won only a single seat but later it formed an alliance (United Progressive Alliance) in 2009.

Both the political parties ruled Kashmir for long enough, promised people to provide a government that could satisfy the demands of commoners and resolve the issues like insurgency and other internal conflicts within the state. The government shifted hands from PDP to NC and vice versa but the core issues were resolved. The castle of fake promises crashed and some regional parties jutted their necks out from August 2019 onwards, when the ocean of fake promises was holed from below by the BJP led central government.

The day dreams that NC and PDP kept hallucinating in minds of the people, manipulating them for their political gains, went in abeyance. Hence both parties seem to be in deep puzzle to drain out the issues within their arrogance filled behaviors that damaged the economy of the state from last two decades. Both these parties had never dreamt of such a situation and had planned of ruling the state for future generations.

NC supported all forms of corruption, political high-handedness, bureaucratic sinecurism and gave priority to their own people. For example, the majority of the job holders in Jammu and Kashmir were siblings of the political workers, even though they didn’t have required qualification for the jobs, which left the state economy in shambles.

In education department, the teacher to student ratio was way higher than the acceptable standards, thus the teachers were hired but there were less students and they continued to draw salary.

Under qualified employees, who were hired for the government job, still can’t write their names well, rendering fruitful service to the nation is a long shot.This is the kind of favour, NC government has given to Kashmiris.

On the other hand Sayeed Dynasty never saw the sun setting from their yards. All high order posts were taken by Sayeed’s for they sought themselves to be supreme than the rest of other Kashmiris.

Influential government posts were held by their relatives which in turn assisted them to nullify legal disputes arising out of their wrong doings. Since 2019, there are lot of transitions in government but opportunities were never shared equally amongst the people. So the rich became richer and poor became poorer. This marked the death of talent in garbage of the political orientation. The aims and objectives of the parties could have been faithful for quite some time while campaigning but once they were enthroned, only almighty knew conditions of masses.

The situation could have evolved if there was a huge contest or multi-party competition i.e. alternative leadership, whether independent or local parties, but such rising leaders were seen as a threat to existing nexus of political leaders, terrorists and separatists and hence were assassinated by unknown gunmen. The killing of the alternate leadership is a talk of immediate concern, which is one healthy step towards resolving the miseries of the people. It is time for hereditary succession to end so that a new beginning of the dynamic leaders, who can toughen the nerves of the society well and pulsate it thoroughly till the frustration comes to an end.

Slowly and steadily if the new political parties sweep the residue of those big fishes, it might then be a new political revolution in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. Assimilation of youth in political activities would tear the tensions that grew in minds of the jobless youth, also their energies will put a fuel inside the political grounds of valley, and shall squeeze the throats of militant outfits, responding them by putting the full stops over their apertures.

Pandits are a part and parcel of the Kashmiri society. An inclusive portion of the Kashmiriyat without which Kashmir deems incomplete. The word Pandit literally means ‘learned man’ which is also exchanged with ‘Bhatta’ meaning a great scholar. From the context, one can lay emphasis on why Pandits were so important for the Kashmir way back and now as well. They have been the only source of the education to the valley, a Pandit was outspoken with many regional languages and had deep insights for the science, mathematics and the social discourses. Their extermination from the valley left a dip on the rate of literacy and the evolution in the traditional society.

Pandits lived in Kashmir since ages, hand in hand with the muslims as immediate neighbours, helpful sources and much more. However, the growth of radicalism in the 90’s backed by the forces denied the rights to them. The justice is still awaited, leaders from valley never rose voice to bring them back. The ruins of their shelters haunt a person like the way they remain. How can one see a home being devastated like that! One wonders, for what reason a noble section of society was massacred, whose genocide would never fade from the chapters of the Kashmiri history.

Several governments promised with pandits for their return but the issue was almost every time used as a political tool to gain the votes. Once the votes were gained, nothing could be seen on ground as a betterment option for the depressed class. Living in refugee camps, sober pandits have been subjected to the diverse type of atrocities. Once a part of Kashmiri society lie below sky on mercy of the God.

It is a moral duty of the Kashmiris to bring back the Pandits to their respective places, and then to provide them a safe place. They should gather the same place in the society that they were used to. An all inclusive Kashmir is best than a Kashmir with extremist tendency which lowered the tourist flow even. The return back of Pandits would mean a plus in the plural ethos which is a hallmark of the normalcy and the tolerant society.

Social  media  is  also  playing  a  dominant  role  in  radicalising  the  youth.  Once  a  CASO begins,  messages  on  Whats App  groups  mobilise  people  for  stone  pelting.  Instagram  posts  of terrorists,  fiery  speeches  of  terrorists  like  Masood  Azhar,  Arabic  Taranas  are  widely circulated  as  well.  The  Youth  Forum  for  Kashmir  set  up  in  Islamabad  in  2012  by  Ahmad Qureshi  with  the  backing  of  the  Pakistan  Army  has  also  played  an  influential  role  in fomenting  youth unrest in Kashmir. They targeted universities and colleges.

Alarming rise in local recruitment in terrorist groups: Report - Rediff.com  India NewsFurther,  the  coverage  of  Kashmir  events  in  mainstream  Indian  media  is  acting  as  a major  spoiler. Kashmiri youth maintain that mainstream Indian media portrays all Kashmiris as terrorists and Kashmiri politicians as being ‘Pakistani’. The  influential  round the clock news  channels  indulge  in  bitter  debates  on  communal  matters,  getting  fanatic  religious leaders  on  their  shows  that  contribute  to  a  highly  polarised  environment.  Usually, such provocative journalism is taken very seriously in Kashmir.  People  even  in  the  remote villages  of  Kashmir  are   well  acquainted  with  names  like  Arnab  Goswami,  Major  Gaurav Arya,  and  Subramaniam  Swami.  Some  Kashmiri  politicians  and  youth  leaders  go  to  the extent of  attributing radicalization in Kashmir  as a  reaction to  Hindu extremism! They  added that  Hindu Muslim  dynamics  in  India  has  an  enormous  impact  on  the  Kashmiri  mindset. Therefore,  unfortunate  incidents  of  beef lynching  and  communal  riots  create  a  feeling  of insecurity  among  Kashmiris.

 To  an  extent,  this  may  be  real,  but  religious  radicalisation  has  its  internal  dynamics and  it  has  been  going  on  independent  of  happenings  in  the  overall  sociopolitical  scenario  of India.  Furthermore,  there  is  reluctance  on  the  part  of  Kashmiris  to  accept  that  radicalisation might  erode  the Tahreek ’ s international  credibility  by  exposing  strong  Islamist undercurrents  and  diluting  its  supposedly  secular  and  political  nature.    However,  even  the outer  trappings of  the  movement are  now  a  far  cry  from its much touted secular  credentials.

Despite this one cannot deny that national media or vernacular media in particular as is projecting a highly biased and negative image of the Kashmiri people for small TRP interests.  This is detrimental to India’s long-term interests in Kashmir and therefore needs strong reversal through greater media self-regulation. Hence creating problems which add to the radicalization process, however govt institutions need to keep a firm vigil on the activities of the media.

On 19th of January, 1990 when the days were cold and nights bitter, though there was no snow on the ground to chill the people. Around 9 PM, loud and thunderous Islamic and pro-Pakistan slogans rose collectively by a multitude of humanity and relayed through powerful loudspeakers almost pierced ear drums. These slogans were not new to Pandits in the Valley of Kashmir as they were familiar to such out bursts; however the very odd hour, the tumultuous bang and the intriguing spontaneity besides the pressing loudspeakers into service, all spoke threateningly that a storm was brewing in the Kashmir Valley. Suddenly, telephone bells began ringing loudly in the houses of most of the Pandits in Srinagar. Mobile phones had not been introduced then. Each caller on the other end of the line asked his relative, friend or acquaintance whether they were safe. This question carried more meaning underneath its simple words. The callers told their respondents to come out of their houses in that dark and dreary night and see for themselves what a strange scenario was unfolding on the streets and squares of the city of Srinagar. Scenes on the streets, squares and open spaces in the city were to be seen to be believed. Masses of Muslim population, young, old, children, and women came out of their homes, crowded the streets, gesticulating vigorously and yelling slogans in favor of Islam, Pakistan and the insurgency. Crowds of people carried rugs, carpets, mats and furnishing and spread it out on the streets and squares. They brought wood and lit bonfires to keep their bodies warm. People sat, squatted, danced, shook fists made violent gestures as loud speakers were fixed and microphones blurred a mix of Quranic verses, revolutionary songs, anti-India vitriolic and the supremacy of Islamic faith, all by turn making rounds from one to another speaker, each speaker more rabid fire brand than his predecessor. Islamic slogans, profuse admiration for Pakistan, stories of the heroes of early Islamic conquests, the paradise created by Allah for the Momin (pious) and hell fire for the Kufaar (unbelievers) etc. were the major themes of their outpouring. Speakers praised Islam as the best religion God had sent through the Prophet. The crux of these surcharged utterances was that all symptoms of Kufr (heresy), Butparast (idolatry) and dualism as with the Hindus had to be cleaned from Daru’l salam (the place of peace). Spirited stories of the heroes of early Islam like Omar and great commanders like Sa’d bin Waqqas and Tariq and others were recounted conveying that Islam had not lost the strength of destroying non-believers. This rant continued till wee hours. The message went to the Pandits that they were in the line of fire. Like frightened pigeons, the Pandits huddled up in their nests and kept vigil all night. Not a single soul came out of his house to go to the temple for prayers or to Hari Parbat heights to pay usual obeisance to the deity. The night-long tirade against non-Muslims on the one hand and lionizing of Islamic war lords on the other snatched whatever remnant of peace of mind they were left with. The question that caused them grave distress was how they could live in the Valley of Kashmir without the goodwill of the majority community with which they have had centuries of good and brotherly relations.

 To Kashmiri Pandits his Muslim neighbor was neither an enemy nor a rival just because of their very insignificant rather negligible numbers. For the first time in the history of Jammu and Kashmir this open and unabashed tirade was let loose against them on such a massive scale. The administration collapsed and law and order were thrown to winds. The police deserted their posts and the Pandits were left to themselves with their survival hanging in balance. The Pandits found that overnight their neighbors had changed color. Their idiom changed as if they had thrown off the mask they wore for such a long time. Pandit and Muslim neighbors known to one another for generations began to behave as strangers. Suspicions loomed large and in a few days the entire atmosphere changed and the Pandit came to be called ‘the other’. The government was knocked out by a single night of defiance and revolt and the next morning not a single policeman was visible anywhere in the city. They had withdrawn to their barracks or hid in their homes as the administrative machinery had collapsed and law and order crumbled. From the next morning viz. 20th of January, 1990 it was the rule of the mosque, the priest and the Islamists. Loud speakers fixed to mosque tops, blurred uninterruptedly cautioning the Pandits to leave the Valley. The refrain of their slogans was that they wanted their Kashmir without Pandit males but with their women folk. Traditional Kashmir Muslim society has always been respectful of Kashmiri Pandit womenfolk and this shameful and shocking slogan showed that only a fringe section of Kashmir Muslim society indoctrinated in hate mania was out to disrupt communal harmony. However, the hate campaign, carried forward through barbaric and inhuman means of violence, struck fear among the entire Kashmiri population to the extent that nobody was prepared to show even the slightest goodwill to the Pandits. Al Safa, a popular Urdu daily of Srinagar minced no words in telling the Pandits to leave the Valley within hours if they wanted to save their lives and honor. Loud speakers fixed on mosque tops blurred a profusion of warnings of similar type. More and more anti-India demonstrations were to be seen on the streets in which demonstrators were mad with anger, hate and revenge. Fear stricken Pandits did not find any source that could assure them at least the safety of life. In its evening news bulletin, Radio Kashmir took the name of the Kashmiri Pandits gunned down by terrorists. The gruesome stories of murder of hapless Pandits unnerved the community members. There was no sense of approaching majority community for protection and help because the neighbors, too, were in the grip of fear heightened by the collapse of law and order.     

The dynamics of secret and selective militancy so rigidly drilled into the heads of the actors, had reached a level that the son who returned after training never disclosed to his parents and family members where he had been and on what mission. Indoctrination was of the level that even parents began to fear their sons. This is best explained in the television interview which Bitta Karate gave to the security officials after he was arrested and interrogated by security agencies. Bitta Karate was one of the top JKLF gun wielders who had crossed over to Pakistan Administered Jammu and Kashmir in 1989, and received training and indoctrination in the camps there. In the interview, the journalist asks him on whose behest did he carry out the killing of the Pandits. He replied that he obeyed the orders of his senior Ashfaq Wani and Amanullah Khan. When asked if his senior told him to kill his parents would he do that as well, he emphatically said, “Yes”. This speaks of the type of barbarianism that was sucking the Valley into its vortex. Asked how many Kashmiri Pandits he had gunned down, Bitta replied, “I lost the count after killing 22 of them”. When asked who was the first victim of his bullets he took the name of one Satish Kumar Tiku, who was a friend (and perhaps also a class fellow) of Bitta Karate, and occasionally visited him in his Srinagar home. Bitta Karate had returned after undergoing training in terrorist camps and Satish, not knowing where his friend Bitta had disappeared for a while, went to see him in his home. He found Bitta cleaning a gun (AK 47). Surprised on seeing the weapon Satish asked him what it was. Bitta avoided the question and said that it was a toy he played with. Naïve as Satish was, he took it lightly and soon forgot the incident and left his friend. But Bitta was greatly disturbed and went to see the ‘commander’, related to him the story and asked for directions. The commander told him to finish Satish lest he discloses it to police. Bitta went to Satish’s house and called him to come out of his home. No sooner did Satish step out on the street, Bitta, in a flash of a moment, aimed his China made pistol at him and fired shots that pierced through Satish’s heart. He fell down dead in a pool of blood. Brandishing his pistol in the air in broad day light, Bitta scared the pedestrians and walked away in complete confidence. Today the killer of 22+ Pandits is roaming a freeman in Srinagar city. Yasin Malik, a terror comrade of Bitta was arrested in connection with the gunning down of six uniformed Indian Air Force personnel at Barzulla, Srinagar waiting at a bus stand. Yasin Malik riding the pillion of his friend’s bike opened fire at the standing airmen with an automatic weapon, killing all of them and the bike riders sped away.

Yasin Malik, later on became the chief of JKLF in Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir after the party split. Ms. Girija Tickoo, a Kashmiri Pandit teacher in a government school in Kupwara district was coming out of the school building after collecting her salary when she was accosted by gunmen who kidnapped her to some unknown place where she was gang raped. The assailants, fearing she might disclose their identity, forcibly put her under a machine saw and cut her body into pieces. Avtar Krishan Koul, Deputy Director Food Supplies was gunned down by masked terrorists in his office. He had enquired into the disappearance of some truckloads of food grain supplies reportedly taken away by JKLF activists at gun point. Lassa Kaul, Director Doordarshan (Television) Srinagar was gunned down outside his house in Bhan Mohalla. He was accused of relaying anti-militancy news.

Pandit Premnath Bhat of Anantnag was a lawyer by profession and a very popular social figure much liked by people of all communities. Masked Jihadis barged into his house, dragged him out and emptied on him their magazines of their guns. Professor Nilakanth Raina (Lala) of Jammu and Kashmir Government Higher Education Department, an eminent historian and researcher was called by masked and armed gunmen at about dusk at his home in Fateh Kadal locality in Srinagar and gunned down at point blank range. Professor Nilakanth was conducting researches into the Buddhist antiquity of Jam’a Masjid mosque in Nowhatta, Srinagar. In November 1989, Sheela Tikoo was gunned down near Habba Kadal. On 4th of March, 1990, Mrs. M.N Paul, the wife of an Inspector of BSF was kidnapped, raped and then murdered because she happened to be the wife of a government official. Also in March 1990, B.K. Ganjoo, an engineer in Telecommunication Department was brutally gunned down while he tried to hide himself in an empty drum used for storing rice. The assailants climbed the third floor of his house to catch hold of him. His wife begged the murderers to kill her too but only to receive the sadist remark, “there should be someone left to cry over his dead body”. In April 1990, a nurse named Sarla Bhat was kidnapped and continuously raped for several days before her dead body was thrown on the roadside. In May 1990, Mrs. Prana Ganjoo and her husband Prof. K.L. Ganjoo were kidnapped in Sopore where the woman was raped and then both of them were murdered. In June 1990, Mrs. J.L. Ganjoo, her husband and her sister-in-law (husband’s sister) were killed in their home in Ban Mohalla, Srinagar. In July 1990, a working woman, namely Teja Dhar was shot dead on the roadside in Ali Kadal, Srinagar. In July 1990, a Pandit lady named Nanaji was gunned down on the roadside in Batamaloo, Srinagar. In July 1990, Dr. Shani was locked up in her house in Karan Nagar and then the house was set on fire. Flames consumed her alive. In August 1990, Babli Raina was raped in front of her family members in her house and then shot dead. One particular case which literally butchered the tradition of tolerance and communal harmony as well as the tradition of humanism in the Valley of Kashmir happened on 30th of April 1990, when four armed persons forced entry into the house of Sarwanand Koul Premi in Anantnag district. They dragged him out of his house along with Virender Koul, his 27-year old son for ‘enquiry’ and in the nearby jungle, the father and son both were gunned down. Sarwanand Koul, a poet and scholar, was 64 years of age and had translated the Bhagwat Gita into Kashmiri. A copy of the Quran was preserved in his house which he used to read occasionally.

As disorder and lawlessness gripped the Valley, the Pandits shivered with fear. This was the atmosphere of fear and lawlessness in which the Pandits became homeless. In these circumstances it was but natural that the entire Pandit community stood fear-stricken and then followed the impulse of running away from this cauldron. The entire community had lost the confidence in the majority community. Members of a high ranking delegation of parliamentarians visiting Srinagar to assess the ground situation quarreled among themselves on seating arrangements in the meeting room. They showed scant understanding and interest in the critical situation in the Valley and the sword of death dangling on the head of the vulnerable minority.

The Pandits found that the Indian government, too, had written them off. Threatened and defenseless Pandits had no option but to leave their millennia old homeland, homes, hearths, properties, jobs, business, farms, orchards, temples, shrines, cremation grounds, Gods, deities, and the ashes of their forefathers. They engaged whatever means of transportation they could manage, took a bagful of clothing and headed out of the Valley to unknown and un-seen destinations. They left in trickles for fear of being captured en route and butchered in cold blood.

The process continued for the first two-three months of 1990. Despite the fact that thousands of soldiers were garrisoned in Badami Bagh Cantonment, Srinagar, not one soldier escorted the fleeing fugitives. In spite of the silence of the Kashmiri Muslims on the atrocities committed against the Kashmiri Pandits, the general masses of Kashmiri Muslims did not obstruct the exit of the Kashmiri Pandits and facilitated their safe journey out of the Kashmir Valley. The Pandits of Kashmir, who had braved numerous spells of forced conversions and destruction of their civilization symbols during six centuries in the past, were extirpated from their five thousand year-old homeland at a time when India was governed by a Democratic and Secular dispensation. Seeing the current rise in Islamic fundamentalism and radicalization of the youth of the Valley of Kashmir, it can be concluded that the Kashmir Valley’s ethnic cleansing is complete and everlasting. They have been banished from their birth place not for decades or centuries or millennia, but for all times to come.

The gathering of the storm September 14, 1989 was a sunny day when Pandit Tika Lal Taploo, President of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Kashmir Chapter and a lawyer by profession, came out of his home in Bhan Mohalla locality of Srinagar and headed to the High Court where he practised law. As he stepped out, he saw a small girl crying. On recognizing that the child was of his Muslim neighbour, he lifted her in his arms, turned round and went straight to his neighbour to ask why the child was crying. The mother of the child said that her daughter needed some items of writing material but she had no money to buy these. Tika Lal took out a five rupee note from his pocket and handed it over to the woman. To the child he said, “My child, school is the place for you”.

Tika Lal left them and turned to go to his work place. He had hardly walked 70 steps when three persons with faces wrapped in dark cloth appeared at the blind turn of the lane. Two of them kept standing while the third moved a few steps forward and came in line with Tika Lal. He took out a weapon, aimed at Tika Lal and said, “You are the BJP leader! Come then”. He pulled the trigger and bullets pierced the chest of Tika Lal, who fell down dead in a pool of blood. The Bar fraternity, mostly Muslims, organized a condolence meeting in the premises of the High Court and at Tika Lal’s residence, the one who cried and sobbed the loudest among a large number of mourners, was the mother of the child, Tika Lal had lifted in his arms just moments ago.

Barely three weeks after this murder in Srinagar, unknown gunmen shot and killed another Kashmiri Pandit (Kashmiri Hindu), retired Judge Nilakanth Ganjoo in broad day light in Maharaj Bazaar, Amira Kadal. He had flown in from New Delhi and was headed homewards. Obviously, someone was keeping track of him while in close contact with the gunmen. Justice Ganjoo, Sessions Judge in Srinagar had given a death sentence to Maqbool Bhat, the leader of Jammu & Kashmir National Liberation Front, whom he had found involved in the murder of Amar Chand, a CID Police Sub-Inspector of Jammu and Kashmir Police, resident of Nadihal village of Baramulla district. These two killings of Tika Lal and Nilakanth Ganjoo sent a shock wave down the spine of the Pandit minority community of the Kashmir Valley.

 Gunning down of two outstanding members of their community in the autumn of 1989 within a span of only three weeks was ominous for the Pandits. It made them skeptic towards the law and order situation in the State and they started to feel deeply concerned about security of life. What baffled them more was that two Muslim witnesses on whose deposition Judge Ganjoo had based the judgement roamed as freemen. That evening, Radio Kashmir announced the incident in just one sentence; “Unknown assailants gunned down a former Sessions Judge in Maharaj Bazaar, Srinagar”. Fear-stricken Pandits, with anguish written large on their face, huddled up in their homes to think over the seriousness of the threats to which they were exposed. Was death looming large over their heads? Their apprehensions were not unfounded.

This way a beautiful minority, an inclusive section of the Kashmiri society was attacked, and the only source of education was ruined. Hence, the gap we see today being filled had remained due to the crude past. Once again, as minorities are under threat, our duty is to protect them, respect them as they deserve to be. We have to continue the spirit of Kashmiriyat and turn again a peaceful state, where everyone- tourists, locals find solace with scenery and the people around.