A friend of mine made an interesting observation on Facebook the other day.
“Parliament suspended after two UP farmers were shot by police, 58 and counting in Kashmir,” she said.
My first thought was – “That is true, but practically everything matters more than Kashmir.”
To me (and I suspect to a lot of other people as well) Kashmir is just something I watch on the news channel for 15 minutes before moving on to watch Indian Idol. I guess you could call it viewer fatigue.
Oh don’t get all angry at my lack of sentiment.
I know I should care about Kashmir…and Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Chinese oppression, global warming, animal extinction, Greenpeace, Maoists and even the whales that Japan insists on butchering.
But right now what I really care about is dinner. It has an immediate connection (I am hungry), I am familiar with it (I eat a lot) and I know exactly how to solve the issue (the Dominos downstairs beckons me). That is everything Kashmir is not.
It’s too far away for any connection ( I am in Chennai), I am totally unfamiliar with it thanks to decades of censorship (Free press? Don’t make me laugh!) and when it seems Kashmiris themselves have no idea how to solve their issues, what do they really expect me to do about it?
And most importantly – the only Kashmiri I ever met never spoke about Kashmir, is currently back in Kashmir and still not very talkative or in touch.
They say all that the young of Kashmir have ever seen is oppression and terror.
Well, all I have ever known is – Kashmiris are treasonous separatists, Pakistani puppets and always out on the roads throwing stones like barbarians.
Of course this is not the truth. Words like military rule, POTA, judicial murder, rape, theft, human indignity and others fight for space in my mind. But first impressions are everything.
What I should be reading are Kashmiri pamphlets handed out by my local chapter of “Free Kashmir,” frankly informing me about
the latest atrocities this nation has committed.
I should be listening to soulful ‘freedom’ songs composed by angst-ridden Kashmiris.
I should be watching a Kashmiri movie about their plight. A movie made by Kashmiris, not a bad Bollywood version.
I should leave the theatre so moved that my wallet loosens and I make a donation into “Free Kashmir Fund” box, helpfully placed outside the theatre along with “I support Kashmir” buttons and stickers. Kashmir needs a better, bigger campaign – one that doesn’t dishonour her name.
Ninety-five per cent of India is too far away from the valley and 90 per cent of our people don’t care because they don’t know.
There is a difference between political movements and anarchy – a small difference.
After all, if you can get enough people to care, you change the world.