2013, Essay, Kashmir, Telegraph Calcutta

Kashmir’s Kolyma Tales: An Excerpt Retold

Put together in a volume these could become a chronicle from our own Gulag. Or pages fallen off Varlam Shalamov’s “Kolyma Tales” from deep Soviet Siberia, grim tales of misery that man can wilfully bring upon man.
There is nothing new or extant about these stories. They come, in fact, from two decades back.

Only, they haven’t been told enough. Kashmiri ears are so stuffed with them by now, they can’t accommodate any more. They have turned numb to their hurt. Perhaps they have also come to bore because there is nothing to them beyond repetition. “I am in a peculiar quandary,” says their bewildered author, “I think these are stories to be told but whenever I begun to tell them people say we’ve heard it all before, so what?”

These are stories in search of an audience. These may begin to explain to us how nettled the sutures can be between law and justice, between the clinical application of the former and the emotional implication of the latter. These may probably also annotate to us why a moment such as the hanging of Afzal Guru turns momentous, what sores it rubs into, what carbuncles it opens up.

Continue reading “Kashmir’s Kolyma Tales: An Excerpt Retold”

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2013, News, Telegraph Calcutta

Kashmiri Anger Looms Above Panicked Ground Proscriptions

Courtesy of GettyImages

New Delhi, Feb 10: At four this morning, a police posse pulled up at a printing facility in Shalteng on Srinagar’s outskirts and confiscated hot-minted copies of Kashmir Images, one among a fair crop of the Valley’s English dailies. There was nothing incendiary or provocative about the newspaper’s treatment of the day’s front page; it had led with a value-neutral headline: ‘Guru Hanged, Buried at Tihar’. Yet, like all its competition, it was prohibited from getting to readers.

But that was probably the mildest of many curtailments decreed in the wake of Guru’s speed-march to the gallows. Continue reading “Kashmiri Anger Looms Above Panicked Ground Proscriptions”

2013, Kashmir, New Delhi, News, Telegraph Calcutta

Afzal Guru: A Hanging in Delhi; A Resurrection in Kashmir?

New Delhi, Feb 9: Naeem Akhtar daren’t go on television today.

As spokesman for Kashmir’s main opposition, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Akhtar is a familiar face and voice on the Valley’s tricky socio-political discourse. His latest intervention was last week’s polite pooh-poohing of the fatwa on the girl-band “Praagaash” as frivolous and defamatory of Islam.

But this morning he begged off live cameras, intensely distressed by the causes and consequences of Afzal Guru’s hanging, unable, yet, to get a measure of its future portents. “I don’t want to be part of this discourse,” he told The Telegraph on phone from Srinagar, “I am wondering if there is even place for me in this discourse, what has happened is a huge setback to voices of reason in Kashmir, it has dramatically narrowed the liberal space.”

Almost morose of tone, he added: “I understand a crime and its legal implications, but there are also issues of evidence against a man and the morality of fair trial. Is it not true that mercy too is part of the legal framework of India? Could it be true that in trying to win another election this government may have lost another generation of Kashmiris?” Continue reading “Afzal Guru: A Hanging in Delhi; A Resurrection in Kashmir?”