Ramadan is a particularly reflective time for Muslims around the globe. For more than 1.6 billion faithful it holds a deep spiritual dimension of compassion, consideration, forgiveness and obedience to the wishes of God. Kashmir is no different. It is atonement time in the valley also. When I was young, I remember vividly naats and daroods reverberating from the mosques around the Ramadan time. There was a beautiful melancholy and meaning to it -- simple folks, singing hymns to God at dawn.
So last night in a tiny nondescript hilly village called Gool in J&K there was some unpropitious exchange between the villagers and Indian soldiers. Media reports suggest that the BSF men objected to late night buzz around the mosque and roughed up the local Imam. Nothing much. Various monstrosities, from regular army to irregular task forces, have beaten up scores of Imams and devotees during those tough militancy years. This was surely no exception.
However the poor people of Gool decided to protest this bullying, these random acts of putting the locals through wringer and interfering in their religious duties. While they sure didn’t have Article 25 in the Constitution of India on their mind, which says that all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess and practise their religion, people nonetheless gathered to vent out their grievances.
We already know what happened next. The BSF went on rampage and a massacre unfolded. Innocent, unarmed and fasting village folk were mowed down by the foot soldiers of the world’s largest democracy. There are conflicting reports of eight to nine people dead. More than 42 people are injured. Why, one ponders, this excessive use of force? Why this mad bloodbath on hapless, simple, religious people? Is democracy a vampire that must drink blood to get an orgasm?
Oh, and there may be probes. By a retired or serving justice. That is a given. Shinde, India’s smiling home minister, may have already ordered one. God knows in the last 25 years not one man in uniform was touched by a bargepole. Since public memory is short-lived, by the time it is Eid, the authorities would estimate the people to more or less forget about it. Sad indeed it will be were we to obliterate from mind –- these adversities -- in our quest to justice.
I don’t know why we bother to wait for condemnation from Omar or his dad or Soz or some such. How does it even matter? Within the superstructure of occupation anything is acceptable: A boy plucked from his cowshed and killed in cold blood or an indiscriminate act of shooting on unarmed protestors. When Sonia ji throws an Iftar party with Dr Farooq and his son, Azad and Soz and Mufti and other compradors, falling over each other, sampling doner kebabs, the red sherbet won’t remind them of Gool’s blood. Rest assured.