Marginalisation in Kashmir

[Book Review]

“Kashmir in a new frame – Marginalised”

Waseem Ahmad

The first cover

            The stories and the research study that the book “Marginalisation in Kashmir” comprises of, are conducted with an investigative insight, different perspective and fresh approach that argue that a larger population in Kashmir will be pushed into marginalisation fold if the armed conflict continues in its present form. The ‘victims of conflict’ has emerged as a new category of the marginalised apart from the historically, linguistically and geographically marginalised groups in Kashmir. In Kashmir the prolonged armed conflict has swelled the sphere of marginalized from few historical and geographical groups to almost entire society.

In the book, the stories are graphical and lyrical. The author uses a calendar and has told the heart-wrenching stories of half-mothers and half-widows waiting for their loved sons who are missing. How pellet guns have ravaged the Kashmiris is vivid and graphical in this book in a story titled “Pellet Guns Dance in the Dark”. The author cries himself under Kashmiri duvets, in bathrooms, in room corner shades and when volcanic gusts of love win over patience his characters cry louder and louder; the energy of their sobs, sniffles and wailings make the skies rain, clouds burst and rivers swell. The reader engrosses into the pathetic human tragedies and cries too. A pellet victim explains his new dark world to his mother in these words, “Don’t waste time and money; don’t strain yourself and family as I can’t see, my mother. To my right eye, you appear crow-black and to my left eye, you are hazy”.  More than 7000 Kashmiri Muslims are missing and their mothers, fathers and wives wait-till-death for their home coming. In the search of the loved ones, thousands of families were rendered marginalised. The Half-mother’s last wish before death who has been searching his son in camps, jails and everywhere is “….Come in the dream; have pity, have mercy on my wretched form. Only then my tightened and strained nerves will stretch……..” Declining population, cultural shock and identity crisis due to the highly scattered rehabilitation will make Kashmiri Pandits the worst marginalised group. Ex-militants are citizens without rights. They are torn between two halves – Kashmir – the motherland of husbands and Azaad Kashmir – the motherland of wives. The school drop-outs of kunan-Poshpora rape victim families are sneered as ‘harami’ [sic] (bastard).

The book ratifies the proposition proved by many other researchers that wars and conflicts render societies marginalized and Kashmir is no more a different story which is rendered marginalised by the prolonged war. The ‘victims of conflict’ includes ‘Rape Victims’, ‘Displaced Kashmiri Pandits’, ‘Disappeared Persons’ families, ‘Orphans’, ‘Former-militants’, ‘Victims of Disabling Physical Torture and Mental Disorder’.

The armed conflict in the Paradise on earth, Kashmir, is seen very closely through different perspectives by media, State, writers and conscious people. In this book, the author, Hamid Rather, a freelance Kashmir-based journalist is viewing it from an altogether new angle and tries to redefine the concept of marginalisation from the perspective of media. He argues that marginalisation criteria should not be left to be decided by the ‘State’ always. In fact, media has a significant role in this discourse. Debates and discussion have always raised questions on caste and historical-factors driven marginalisation. Through this book Rather has pioneered the discourse that marginalisation criteria should be set by the media too and should not be left to the ‘State’ always. This is an amazing contribution to the literature on development which connects theories and finings of researchers around the world to the practical realities in Kashmir.

Apart from victims of conflict the book also talks of religious minorities, historically, linguistically, geographically and professionally marginalised groups.

(The author is a Phd scholar at JNU)

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