Deconstructing Kashmir's heroes
Please note: This article is specifically about the human rights abuses and rapes in Kashmir as distinct from the larger conflict around Kashmir. I see them as victims of crime, and collecting their suffering for the purpose of a political struggle is putting it on indefinite hold till the political issue is resolved.
Yet another string in a deliberately obfuscated dialogue. Today I finally lost it after hearing for the nth time about the sacrifice of Kashmiri heroes – who happened to be 7000 raped women.
Here is what the dictionary says about sacrifice:
sac·ri·fice (skr-fs)n.1.a. The act of offering something to a deity in propitiation or homage, especially the ritual slaughter of an animal or a person.b. A victim offered in this way.2.a. Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.b. Something so forfeited.3.a. Relinquishment of something at less than its presumed value.b. Something so relinquished.c. A loss so sustained.4. Baseball A sacrifice bunt or sacrifice fly.v. sac·ri·ficed, sac·ri·fic·ing, sac·ri·fic·esv.tr.1. To offer as a sacrifice to a deity.2. To forfeit (one thing) for another thing considered to be of greater value.3. To sell or give away at a loss.v.intr.1. To make or offer a sacrifice.2. Baseball To make a sacrifice bunt or sacrifice fly.[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin sacrificium : sacer, sacred; see sacred + facere, to make; see dh- in Indo-European roots.]sacri·ficer n.
The Kashmiris are so busy presenting themselves as eternallt struggling and suffering and fighting with honor, that it goes to ridiculous extents like calling rape a sacrifice. Now, why would a woman sacrifice something like this to the hated enemy?
It is the same thing with heroes. A hero is one who makes a courageous action. Stone pelters are heroes. Fine. I agree. But then, why are they being talked about as helpless victims? Why is there this endless whining (I am sorry for hurting any sentiments, but I cannot find a better word) that suddenly deflates them from brave warriors to someone needing the mercy of their enemies to perform as planned? Its not like they didn’t know that soldiers have guns. It is not like they didn’t know that the soldiers would fire, specially considering how much effort they have put into publicizing it. They know. They knowingly take the risk, but if it actually hurts, everyone starts crying and arranges for a few more to get hurt?
This sounds harsh, I am aware. At the same time, as much as India is wrong in its actions, Kashmiris are equally wrong in creating so much melodrama that they are not believed unless something extreme happens.
When you say a woman sacrificed when she got raped, you are implying a certain amount of willingness to go through the suffering for a larger cause. Get a life beyond the publicity department. Those women were not willing. They were victims of a ghastly crime. They didn’t sacrifice, they were raped. They are not heroes. They are ordinary people who need far more compassion than being used as propaganda heroes allows them.
Because justice for someone willingly taking a risk and someone unwillingly submitted to horrors is different. Killing a soldier is bad. Killing an innocent civilian is bad. But when the innocent civilian is painted a soldier, he is denied the justice because a soldier is expected to sacrifice in war.
If India is to blame for not bringing about justice, Kashmiris are equally to blame by glorifying the suffering of the meek as a defiant act. It sounds fake. If I tell you about a woman in Mumbai or Delhi whose sacrifice was that she got raped, you will wonder who asked her to do it. Because sacrifice conveys intention, resolve, not a victimization. People who sacrifice walk into it. The Kashmiri women DIDn’t intend to get raped. For what gain are these women being publicized like that? For the tiny “noble” word sacrifice to be used as much as possible? When all this bullshit stops, it will become far more easy to prosecute the criminals for their crimes, because their VICTIMS will no longer be obfuscated as warriors, but truly unrelated to their war. They will then be the outright aggressors rather than retaliators.
For this, Kashmir must stop its bravado and get real. Stop pushing vulnerable innocents as warriors. Stop grinding their own innocents in their publicity machine. There was a time when I would have believed the choice of words was accidental, but increasingly, it appears that the publicity of the “Kashmiri cause” is very well designed. If it truly cares about their innocents hurt, then the fact that they were vulnerable, the fact that they were unrelated to the fight, the fact that they are fragile ….. must not be hidden for the sake of false bravado and manufacture of abundant heroes.
The reality is that while many Kashmiris may be angry, the people willing to die in order to fight are largely the militants. They are the ones willing to sacrifice their lives or well being for the cause. They do not get compassion. IF their philosophy is to fight India and be willing to die, there isnt’ a country in the world that will blame India for kiling them. Standing those poor women among them is a horrible thing to do. If getting raped is a matter of pride, it psychologically takes away the horror of the abuse, though the facts are still there. Stopping the use of damaging words that convey their bravery in getting raped would be one good way of changing the whole narrative for justice. Will help people “feel” for them rather than just hear the statistics.
The biggest problem for getting justice for these women is the use of their suffering as anti-India propaganda. The women are actually being sacrificed, but not by the soldiers, but their own. When justice for them means letting go of Kashmir, then they actually become warriors in the war, whether they want it or not. They become expendable, caught in the middle of the larger political problem that Kashmir is. If their suffering were not used as propaganda, and if punishing a soldier wouldn’t actually lead to worse publicity, it would help remove many political barriers inserted into their justice. If Kashmir truly wants these women to get justice, then that quest must be separated from the larger political struggle. Or it will continue to drag like this till the bigger picture isn’t solved. And, because this isn’t solved, the political struggle will not get solved. Its like chicken and egg.