A year before he was shot dead, the child was sucking milk from the soft white breasts of his mother. The mother recited those famous Lalded’s verses to soothe his nerves while her golden pair of athoor dangled in the air, from the upper earlobes.
The dreams for this young infant were being passionately weaved like the sweater he would have worn, if he had managed to stay alive. But alas..! Even before he understood that he was to pray with hands folded in Namaskar (and not otherwise), the guests had arrived. He, perhaps, was trying to figure out these new unfamiliar voices in the room which soon transformed into the disturbing noise of fireworks. A noise, profoundly, he heard for the last time, ever.
Terrorism in Kashmir had emerged, yet again. A second phase- more brutal, more inhuman and more prepared to kill innocents. For 23 Kashmiri Pandits, the brave struggle to survive ended that very instant. For the one (and only) young survivor- a teenager- life would never be the same again. Wandhama, an unknown village somewhere in Kashmir was suddenly into the limelight. The lifeless queue of two dozen bodies, smeared in blood marked its space in the press. But the one photograph that stood out, like no other, was of that infant. Blood oozing out of the tiny nose, and one eye damaged. The petite still body bore the enormous weight of twenty one bullets. On his sweater was a yellow coloured clown jumping in happiness, I wonder why?
Unlike others, these courageous families in Wandhama had decided to stake their precious lives for their treasured homes. They, however, lost both. After they were murdered in cold blood the homes of these Pandits were set ablaze by the gunmen. The sacred temple was not spared either. Indian Express quoted the remarks of the young survivor-" …all I saw were bodies lying scattered everywhere... my mother, my sisters, relatives... all dead…I saw the other three houses burning, a temple near our home was also in flames..."
Take into account the neighbourhood you grew in, and the sacred place you worshipped at. Reminisce of those friends and siblings you played with, in your childhood. Now try to imagine the flames you might have to light for their pyre and the flames you would extinguish of your burning home. It was more brutal than that.
Recently commissions were set up to probe into the killings of innocent Muslims by the Indian army in Kashmir, movies are made on the brutal use of AFSPA, politicians/ NGOs are always eloquent about Human Rights Violations of the population that currently resides in the valley. But strangely and interestingly, no intellectual of a high authority ever stood up in support of the initial victims- the Kashmiri Pandits.
The readers would have loved to read as to who killed these innocent souls. Were they criminals, communalists? I apologise but I was not able to pursue a conclusion to these words. I have absolutely no idea as to what reference must I render to those who kill innocents on the basis of religion. Others might call them terrorists or warriors of God but in my dictionary… they have no name.
(This is the first of the series of articles written by your young activists.Most of them were either not born or toddlers when they were forced to leave their land. Pooja Shali is a student of MCRC,Jamia,New Delhi)