Was Posted as a comment by J on
Witnessing a pro-independence rally in 1990, an immense sea of people, I saw people tearing of their clothes in ecstacy. It was not rage against any recent killings by the Indian army that had brought them out; but the pure joy of being able to express a desire for freedom, made possible by this collective action. Women sang the azadi slogans to a rhythm. They brought back memories of martyrs of freedonm struggle by singing songs that spoke of loss and meloncholy at the same time as courage and heroism. Songs from different parts of the rally spilled into each other. There was no direction to go; it had not been decided. For many hours, braving the icy winds of early January, people just stuck to their places. No stones were hurled, till police got impatient and started teargassing. Women, old men, children seperated; young men went ahead and hurled stones and chased police. More police came, and chased back people. This went on for quite some time, till shots were fired, and three people lay dead.
This went on, day after day, till Jagmohan imposed a three month long curfew to starve Kashmiris. And when curfew was lifted in the first week of March, even those who had missed it the last time came out on streets.
I think it was much more than just slogans… It has kept Kashmir’s struggle for freedom going.