“Everyone in Kashmir has suffered. We need to hear all stories of suffering with a human heart,” author and journalist Gowhar Geelani said at an interactive session at the Asiatic Library in Fort on Saturday.
“The aim is to try and understand each other’s pain without trying to quantify as to who has suffered more, and have learnings from each other,” Mr. Geelani said after narrating a series of massacres allegedly carried out in the region by the government and militants, where Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs lost their lives.
Mr. Geelani read excerpts from his book Kashmir: Rage and Reason and delved into the history of Jammu & Kashmir and the identity of its residents. The discussion revolved around the situation in Kashmir following the government’s decision to revoke Article 370, which accorded special status to Jammu & Kashmir.
“What is abnormal for people living elsewhere has been normalised for the people of Kashmir,” Mr. Geelani said, while addressing the question of militancy and the rampant human rights violations allegedly perpetrated both by the government and militants. He said the Kashmiri youth bore the brunt of the volatility that exists in the region.
Mr. Geelani said that there seems to be a policy to deny the Kashmir issue exists and instil a sense of psychological defeat among the residents. He said, “If you ignore what the people are talking about and the territory you’re talking about, the problem will be defined by you and the solutions will come from you without consent. Then I think, without sounding too harsh, it is trying to call a rape a nikah .”
Mr. Geelani said that the only way forward is through dialogue by first accepting that a problem exists and then resolving the issues by respecting what the people are saying.
Mr. Geelani also criticised most mainstream media entities stating that they were merely pushing a certain propaganda of the government. He said, “After caging eight million Kashmiris and without hearing their stories, how they’re feeling in this curfew, you’re telling people in Mumbai that everything is normal. They’re happy. If they are happy, why are you not lifting the siege?” He added that the media’s portrayal of Jammu as Hindu, Kashmir as Muslim, and Ladakh as Buddhist was completely misleading.
On the issue of Kashmiri Pandits, Mr. Geelani said that the fundamental question was that they lost their home. He said, “Around two lakh families, leaving their homes and settling in various parts of India. That pain nobody can deny and you cannot say that my pain is bigger than yours.” He concluded his session by saying that the issue of Kashmir is a political problem with ethno-religious identities.