A philosopher militant

Original picture by Faisal Khan / Effects: Wande Team

In this fictional interview, which took place post Burhan uprising, I had an honour to meet a philosopher turned militant. I shouldn’t be saying philosopher as she was rather beyond the modern nomenclature-cum-compartmentalization of knowledge. My reduction to represent her as a philosopher presumes that if Socratic methods of teaching are applied, again I am taking the credit, everyone knows everything. But the reality is she is a militant who has consciously taken up arms against the Indian rule in Kashmir.

Me: While scribbling her name on my dairy, “Shall I start?”

She: Indeed, as far as your questions beget questions and not mere answers.

Me: Tell me about yourself and why you picked up a gun instead of something else?

She: I am a Kashmiri woman who was born in 1990s. If that doesn’t suffice for your answer, shall I reduce it to a metaphor so that it will become easy to relate with some economic or mental constraint. But you will miss what it is worth when you critically psychoanalyze my decision to support your argument. What exactly do you mean by picking up a gun? Do you consider it violent from my part? Why don’t you go ask those holding their nozzle around everyone here? Should I be saying sorry for being rude? Barader, it’s easy to have your mind clear when the problem is outside your existence. My picking up gun is not for reason, but the reason itself. Reason of my existence …Medium is the message.

And yes metaphorically, I am the invention of decades-long war.

Me: That was intense! Anyways can you tell me why you have as a woman picked up gun and not…?

She: Listen, if you want to talk, let’s only talk. But don’t interrogate me with these silly questions. I wonder if you are from police or some intelligence agency for only they can talk so silly. Who is humiliated more by male-chauvinist-occupational-forces; men or women?  There were dozens of women Mujahids in Nazm (she named her organization with that name) and a few of them even got martyred in the battle field. We had to conceal the identity of some women so as not to expose their vulnerability. Ah! The vulnerability of women! Your set of words came in. I will ask you a question, “How far can you make one responsible for her own acts?”

Look barader, if Nazm wouldn’t accommodate women, the enemy would. You can’t make it a man-to-man affair. For your information, we were here from the very first day of struggle. I guess you are looking for something else in the answer. Look, men were fighting on our behalf since there were men involved on the other side too. There are women militaries in India but, as far as I know, they are not brought to encounters. Why? Also, how many Indian women are guarding the border, let alone Line of Control? Moreover, what would be the situation had majority of the Indian military in Kashmir been women? Wouldn’t love jihad become an easy option for our brethren than going for war? (Chuckles)

War is not at the vanguard alone. It’s more than that; more than the suggestions of post modern reality. War is transcendental reality of humans. You are making laws and principles only to suppress the tensions that emerge between oppression and oppressed. War, for that matter, is fought at many fronts. Women were discreet then. Now battle lines have been drawn. You know what was another outcome of the 2016 uprising? It was identification of the masses with the Nazm - on our side of the battle line.

Me: You said that gun is non-violent? Right?

She: Yes, and I reiterate that it isn’t. How can you say that around 300 men and women holding guns in hand can defeat 7 lakh state-backed heavily armed forces; with vehicles, aircrafts, cruise missiles, train service, innumerable military camps? You know why Afghanistan won war against Russia? It was because of the millions of dollars of investment by CIA, Arabs and ISI every year. Besides, supply lines never halted. They used modern technology in 1980s that we are still unable to get: RPGs, Snipers, Tanks, Aircrafts, night vision goggles, anti-aircraft guns, hospitals for wounded mujahidin and proper training camps around Southern Afghanistan.

Ours is a symbolic war. There is no reason of ‘living like a slave and dying like a lion’ thing.  Our holding gun keeps the question of Azadi alive. Our blood keeps the feelings warm. Our striking the enemy cultivates hope. Our shahadat is an answer unspeakable. Our living is politics in itself.

Me: What is violence then?

She: By violence I mean bruises and cuts, blood and bones, wounds and broken limbs and rape and torture. We don’t normally like to talk or think about violence. Elites do away with it by ostensibly pretending to be going for solutions. In actuality, they are rather sitting on the problem. Indian rule has done exactly the same. We have only maintained a military standard. We attack their camps and their convoys which in international law is a tactic and not formidable affair. On the other hand, violence is killing innocent people when you do not have the guts to attack a real soldier in battle, although I admit that we are not professional soldiers.

Me: Your Nazm hasn’t done much damage to the Indian army as Pakistan based outfits do? Why?

She: Is that true? I shouldn’t have judged you; not that judging is a prohibited thing. But I should say you have mischievously framed your question. Listen barader, they are our guests. We work together. Yes, there is agenda. They serve their broader agenda and we serve our own particular agenda. And mind you, it’s not just that we have a common enemy that we are friends. What is the value of friendship which is based on hatred of the common enemy? It’s rather the opposite: the love of unity of purpose, the love of God, the love of freedom and above all the love of humanity.

Journalists around the world are always after the image and never after the interest. In war, no one thinks what image certain actions will portray? Here, we think solely if it serves our purpose or if it really fits in our interest frame? Image building is a superstar thing. But I am not denying that a leader, which most of our commanders were, should be charismatic. See the blur lines and read between them, you will get what I am saying.

I do not deny, however, that the guests do much damage than we do, since they are more resourceful, better equipped with training in the land of free and carry better weaponry. However, what you call encounter is actually a shooting practice for Indian forces: two-three people are trapped in a house and bullets and mortar shells are showered on it from all sides. If that doesn’t work, choppers are called to finish the job. If that fails too, chemical weapons are used against the mujahidin inside the house. Building material, light, equipment, tactics play little role before mortar, rocket shells, chemical weapons and choppers.  

Me: Why do you kill J&K police?

She: Why am I supposed to answer that? In war, should cavalry be spared? I mean they are equipped with weapons and protection for their bodies better than we are. Don’t they? Ohh! Are you that morally biased type, who says that we are killing our own Kashmiri brothers? With that argument, is killing Indian poor army man legitimate? This is war barader. People die on both sides. However, we don’t kill them randomly. Whoever among them gives us their weapons, we spare them. When we raid them, if CRPF men will hand over their weapons, we will spare them too because we don’t take prisoners of war. Moreover, we target only those police officers who are not in good terms with public: who kill and maim innocent protestors and who hurt our families. We have our own record book just like they have.

Me: How do you see 2016 uprising?

She: For us, it was a loss of a commander: a brother, who has changed the course of history of the freedom struggle in Kashmir. Unlike us, he made himself more susceptible by showing his face and with his open threats which we later materialized as well.

Anyways, post his martyrdom it was a victory. As I said earlier that people identified themselves with us and there are clear battle lines. Why would an army general act as a politician and ask Indian people to engage with the Kashmiri youth? Why would his successor carry an open threat in public? Isn’t that unlike army? Do not gate-keep the reality on ground. 2016 was also about scrutiny. Collaborators and mukhbirs were identified by the people living around them.

Apart from that, people overcame fear.  Kashmir could be the first place in the world where people follow the gunshots instead of running away from them. People with stones and sticks come to rescue trapped mujahidin. Also, 2016 was an event; there was much that was happening before and after the event. There were as many causes as there were effects. It was the end of sectarianism that is being orchestrated by people like Sahai and Hasnain. Above all, rural population organized Chalos in their own territories which became a headache for Indian forces.

Me: Don’t you think Hurriyat is representing Kashmir in true sense of the word?

She: I told you your questions are mischievously framed. Look you have used two words, “hurriyat” and “truth”. In this part of the world, these words always dominate attention in any sentence more than the meaning of that sentence. Firstly, Hurriyat means freedom and people who are associated with it are fighting for the same cause as we are. However, what can you expect from an incarcerated person except a statement? Plus, they are not politicians that they will play politics and remain relevant in public. Most of them were dragged to Hurriyat Conference due to their “involvement” in the movement. They have served years in prison for only speaking about occupation.

They were tortured and maimed. Their houses were burnt, their families killed. If you visit them, you will see how pathetically they manage their living and you expect them to fight a giant monstrous state. Our movement is not headed by General Shabeg Singh or once Finance Minister; Jagjit Singh Chauhan of Khalistan. Come on! Don’t go towards their waist coats and karakulis. They are in the second line of defense. At least they speak against the occupier and remain steadfast. And one more thing about 2016 was that people took the struggle in their own hands. They were 10 days ahead of the calendar that is why protests sustained for so long under the densely militarized area.

And yes, I will tell you what truth in Kashmir is. The truth is Burhan. Truth is Majid Zargar. Truth is Basit and Insha. Truth is Ifra. Truth is Junaid Mattu. Truth is Basheer Lashkari. Truth is Sabzar. Truth isn’t a journalist in Delhi blaming this and that in the name of humanity while justifying his dehumanization. Truth is not you people talking about us in coffee shops and justifying your way of thinking. You know what shahadah means, yes right it means witness. Why do we call them witnesses who die fighting occupation? What does a witness do? He gives up a secret that he has seen something which is right or wrong. In here, we give up the secret of our existence in the courtroom judged by God himself. God didn’t ask Abraham for Ishaq, he asked for loyalty to the cause. I am not glorifying death, am I? I want my sisters and brothers to live freely. I don’t want anyone to bear the cost of freedom or for that matter of uprising. That is why I am at the forefront and that’s how normalcy begins: by hastening the process of de-occupation and not when it is “declared” by the puppet government.

Me: What do you think of India?

She: India is a coward state and also poor. They are not even like Israel. Israelis own their oppression while India is in constant denial. One of my friends happened to talk to an Arab once. The question Arab asked is worth mentioning. He said, “How can a destitute state occupy another state?” Like my friend, I am still wondering whether we have actually lost imagination or was the Arab ill informed. Indian media and their associates even deny the Kunan and Poshpora mass rape. Indian apparatus is not even like the pagans of Arabia. Time is not far when they will deny that they ever landed in Kashmir or for that matter that a place like Kashmir exists. But, we are happy about it for this battle is being fought here and not in India. Let them serve their audience with lies. When we will throw them out of our lands, their audience will wonder forever what actually happened and why were they robbed off from the reality. 

Me: Since everybody is talking about her, what do you think of Mehbooba Mufti?

She: Can we cut this crap about that average minded lady? She is pleasing New Delhi yet she tries to remain relevant in Kashmir. She thinks that politics in Kashmir means speaking about everything. Well it is the opposite. We are happy about it that all these politicians are getting exposed who had once created public opinion on the basis of our blood. We are not assassins, but Inshallah, people will abandon them soon.  

Me: I think I got what I needed? So tell me what’s your last wish?

She: (Laughs) Why do you ask me that? Am I dying sooner than you? It’s a war and anyone could get killed anytime. My wish is that we oust India from our land. We haven’t given them a space in our minds, let alone in our hearts. My wish is I travel to Isfahan through silk routes. You know what, Isfahan houses world’s oldest market where vehicles are not allowed. My wishes are as many as I count and you will have more questions then. Above all, my wish is this fight does not have any dehumanizing effect on my people, since they are fighting monsters. Before you get bored with my wishes, for now my only wish is to stop oppression with this (she took her pistol in hand) wherever need be. 

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