The Indian government’s measures to bring Kashmir under direct rule by New Delhi attempts to erase the Kashmiri political identity and will inflame an already simmering resistance.
Author: Mohamad Junaid
Mohamad Junaid grew up in Kashmir. He has contributed essays in recently published volumes, Everyday Occupations: Experiencing Militarism in South Asia and the Middle East(Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights) ; Of Occupation and Resistance: Writing From Kashmir; and Until My Freedom Has Come: The New Intifada in Kashmir. He is Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
Among nationalists in India, who have wet dreams of global “superpower” and watch over and over videos of “Indian weapons” and “most powerful militaries” on the YouTube, seeing images of those arms and men being reduced to a barbaric spectacle against an unarmed people produces a dispiriting dissonance. “Indian man” has fantasized a genocide for long. In its eyes, a genocide has a metonymic association with “national will.” This fantasy is now a metastasized desire to act like the US in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as ISIS in Syria. They want Indian military to kill without any compunction: “kill 1000 of them for our one;” “drop MOABs on them;” and “take Kashmiri women as slaves.”
Kashmiris know the occupation is chronically violent, persistently vindictive, and is going to remain so as long as it exists. The state that denies a people their right to self-determination can be nothing but repressive. How could Burhan not have shared the same understanding of the Indian control over Kashmir? Is it misplaced to think so? And is it then an accident that Burhan became Commander Burhan Wani?
Indeed, many in Kashmir are bitter, even though they give their unconditional solidarity to those hounded by the Indian state. They feel the protests so far have not understood the truth of the event: that its truth is not in lectures about “true” or “real” nationalism but in an embrace of sedition.
The Indian state’s dominant visual order invisibalizes the structure of its violence in Kashmir. It enforces a blindness and numbs the critical senses of its citizens. From the twin images of Kashmir as a ‘beautiful landscape’ and as a ‘hotbed of anti-nationals,’ it mobilizes the composite image of ‘paradise crawling with serpents’ to justify the military occupation. Can there be a counter-project to this mode of seeing and representation? Can artistic works agitate the dominant imaginaries, trouble the subtle ruses of state power, and, in the process, train a new disobedient sensorium? The images by Rollie Mukherjee that you see here answer these questions affirmatively.
I first heard the rhythmic chants of ‘Azadi’ in the narrow lanes of my town in south Kashmir in the winter of 1989-90.