2014, Kashmir, Reportage, Telegraph Calcutta

Poll Recall: Telegraph May 1/Kashmir:Freedom To Boycott: The Horrendous Enactment Of 60 Percent In 1996, And The 26 Percent In 2014

As polling begins for Srinagar, a soldier takes position atop a polling station in the northern rural pocket of Kangan
As polling begins for Srinagar, a soldier takes position atop a polling station in the northern rural pocket of Kangan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Srinagar, May 1: At a little past ten in the morning, the wan morning sun began to pick out little groups of women in the village square across from the polling station. They waddled out the lanes in twos and threes and soon they turned into a buzzing congregation, like birds sniffing out the safety of their course. Then one gathered steps and vanished past the ajar iron gates where armed jawans stood. Then another, and another, and then the children of some of them began to tug them forth. The plunge was taken. The women had joined their men; two queues began to curl out the polling booth at Dardpora in Budgam.

Not long after, as the hubbub mounted around the polling hive, a group of youngsters walked up and stood across the jawans at the iron gates. They wore track-suits and gelled hair, their sneakers were slaked with mud; they may have come off a morning’s nets on the cricket field. One of them revealed a voters’ slip in his palm but none of them was going in. “Baayecaaat!” he shouted out and then the others shouted too: “Baaayecaat!!”

Continue reading “Poll Recall: Telegraph May 1/Kashmir:Freedom To Boycott: The Horrendous Enactment Of 60 Percent In 1996, And The 26 Percent In 2014”

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2014, Kashmir, Reportage, Telegraph Calcutta

Freedom To Boycott: The Horrendous Enactment Of 60 Percent In 1996, And The 26 Percent In 2014

As polling begins for Srinagar, a soldier takes position atop a polling station in the northern rural pocket of Kangan
As polling begins for Srinagar, a soldier takes position atop a polling station in the northern rural pocket of Kangan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Srinagar, May 1: At a little past ten in the morning, the wan morning sun began to pick out little groups of women in the village square across from the polling station. They waddled out the lanes in twos and threes and soon they turned into a buzzing congregation, like birds sniffing out the safety of their course. Then one gathered steps and vanished past the ajar iron gates where armed jawans stood. Then another, and another, and then the children of some of them began to tug them forth. The plunge was taken. The women had joined their men; two queues began to curl out the polling booth at Dardpora in Budgam.

Not long after, as the hubbub mounted around the polling hive, a group of youngsters walked up and stood across the jawans at the iron gates. They wore track-suits and gelled hair, their sneakers were slaked with mud; they may have come off a morning’s nets on the cricket field. One of them revealed a voters’ slip in his palm but none of them was going in. “Baayecaaat!” he shouted out and then the others shouted too: “Baaayecaat!!”

Women and elders hesitantly join the polling in Budgam
Women and elders hesitantly join the polling in Budgam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The young boycotters stood their vocal dare. The jawans stood opposite, eyeball-to-eyeball, but impassive. Those in Dardpora that wished to vote passed betwixt. Nothing happened. Continue reading “Freedom To Boycott: The Horrendous Enactment Of 60 Percent In 1996, And The 26 Percent In 2014”

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”