While the English language newspapers and television channels have had some coverage of the recent events in Kashmir (of course, with all their biases intact) the valley continues to be strangely absent from the other language media. An interesting exception is a comment by the veteran Hindi journalist and writer Priyadarshan, which appeared in a recent issue of the tehelka hindi magazine. The piece is called Yahan sey Kashmir ko dekhiye – Look at Kashmir thus.
Since it refer’s to Jashn-e-Azadi, here’s an unauthorised translation of the opening paragraphs of Priyadarhan’s piece:
Watching the protests in Kashmir on television, making ones way through the arguments on whether they were sponsored or spontaneous, I remembered Sanjay Kak’s documentary film on Kashmir, Jashn-e-Azadi. There is plenty in that film – funerals that turn into processions for Azadi, and Independence day functions celebrated by the government institutions. In the middle there are the security forces too, distributing radios amongst ordinary people, trying to establish a relationship with them.
What struck me most in the film was how a procession or a funeral on the road in Kashmir suddenly electrifies the whole atmosphere. You then see people on the roads screaming out slogans, women weeping and beating their breasts, and young men with clenched teeth and raised fists, as if eager to escape from the very limits of the screen.
When there is a government program on the other hand, the air is heavy, the roads deserted, the chairs look empty and sad, and fearful people are seen clapping – as if the event had been forced upon the people.
Seen thus, if the stone-pelting and protests in Kashmir are sponsored and organized, then peace is even more sponsored…
I found this last line particularly perceptive, and a useful way to understand the long months of ‘peace’ in Kashmir, which confuse many Indians about what is really going on in that place.