A Letter To Kannan Gopinathan From A Kashmiri Doctor

Kannan Gopinathan

Dear Kannan Gopinathan,

My name is Mohsin and I am from a place where the snow-capped mountains, scenic splendour, exquisite monuments, mesmerising meadows, beautiful lakes, the gigantic chinar trees are held caged with barbed wires along with the very beautful and hospitable people called Kashmir, the Indian adminstered one. Let me tell you a little more about myself and Kashmir first. Kannan, I am a child of conflict and a youth of resistance and resilience. I was born in curfew in the nerve chilling cold of ‘Chilai-Kalaan’ (a 40 days period of harsh winter that starts from December 21st and ends on January 31st). I am brought up in hartal and played my first cricket match on a village greens in ‘Daffa’ (Section) 144. I heard the sounds of bullets & grenades before the sound of rhymes met my ear drums. I played a game called ‘Aayas-Paayas’ (Hide & Seek) in the ruins of burnt houses. I played cricket mostly in graveyards, with a tombstone as wicket. I always got caught in a barbed wire whenever I played football. I felt a rage on the death of an innocent young guy killed in a fake encounter by armed men or even by masked men in the dark hours of night and I broke down when he was burried. I heard a mother ‘Wann-Waan’ (traditional folk songs sung by women on marriages) on the grave of his son. I saw a little school going kid getting a thrash by armed men for not carrying an identity card nearby an army camp. I even saw growing-up girls being frisked by masked men. I learnt the history of my Kashmir mostly at a ‘Dastarkhaan’ (a traditional sheet spread for eatries) as schools were locked up. I learnt to be a rebel all by myself at a ‘Waaneh-Paendh’ (a shop-side where men usually sit and talk). I am Kashmir and Kashmir is me.

Well, Kannan it has not been more than a month or so when I for the first time came to know from a facebook feed that you, Kannan Gopinathan an IAS Officer has resigned from his service as a mark of protest against the abrogation of Article 370 and the following imposed restrictions in the valley last August. The moment I read such, the moment a disappointment upto a fill all of a sudden appeared on my face, reason was simple I was not happy at all. To tell you more here, I was late to this news because of the unavailibilty of our internet service as it was curbed by the GOI. Then, after a weeks time I saw this video footage of your’s on facebook shared by NDTV and it was about that the GOI wants you to resume back your duty as the Government has not accepted your resignation yet. I wished to call you then and there, had I the previlege of having your phone number that please go and join your office back because people like me want to see you there. We need you there working for common masses, addressing their grievances, listening their hearts and helping them in times of troubles. Kannan, there is this quote on your twitter header, “The arc of moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. But only because people pull it towards justice. It does not happen on its own.” This quote sums up all and defines you as a person and the character you carry. But does being good and honest count in your country anymore? No, it does not at all. That was a time when I wanted to put forth my statement infront of you and a reason why I want you to join your service back but I hardly had any of the explanations to be given but today I atleast have one. You are a good human with good values and good morals, you stood up for me, for us, for Kashmir but unfortunately you do not know the real Kashmir and Kashmiris.

There is this book ‘Kashmir-The Vajpayee Years’ by A.S. Dulat, the former RAW Chief and in the very book he writes that once I was usually discussing Kashmir with Brijesh Mishra, the then Pricipal Secretary to the H’ble PM of India, Atal Ji at PMO and he said to me and I quote, “Do you know Dulat, the only straight thing in Kashmr are the poplars?” And, Kannan being a Kashmiri I know it very well that it is so true. Everyone, I repeat everyone right from the main stream poilticians to the hardliners or separatists, from daily labourers to students, from women to kids are playing a game in the name of Kashmir with each other’s. Kashmir has been a centre-stage, an epitome, a hub from the last 40 years now for money-making for every possible character, for every possible chair-holder be that any one in any form. For instance, in my part of the globe where I reside there is this prominent religious figure who heads the majority of a section of people and for that reason thus holds a key chair in one of the separatist groups and on the other hand, his son works behind the curtains for a major political party just inorder to get a mandate or a ticket in next elections and the necessary pay-checques. Take an example of the very hardcore and the most hardliner old man Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the so called ‘Bab’ the supremo of separatists here, personally to me he always seemed to be fake. I remember, a few years back every year he used to go for his treatment to New Delhi and then stay there for a few months of winter and as soon as he used to be back to Kashmir in March, he then called it for strikes, after Namaz Friday protests and vive-versa that automatically would result in clashes between the Indian men in uniform and the locals and thus resulting in enormous casualities. I may differ on this surely with the ideology of other people here in Kashmir but in my opinion he spoiled and ruined Kashmir to the maximum. And, as I write.

Humein Khabar Hai Luteroon Ke Sab Thikanoon Ki,

Shareeq-E-Jurm Na Hote Tou Mukhbiri Karte.

I know it very well that this won’t go well with majority of the spines in Kashmir and I may get a backlash on socail mediums or in person but we have different prespective of ideologies with different paronomas and difference of ideas and a rivalry of thoughts exists in every possible section of the society. A famous still from a Shahid Kapoor starrer movie Haider, ‘India Pakistan Ne Mil Kar, Khela Hum Se Border Border, Ab Na Humein Schodein Hindustaan, Na Humein Schodein Pakistan…..’ was an eye-opener to all of us but the message unfortunately got deliverd and lost in no time. Kashmir is a state interest for both the countries of India & Pakistan but poor Kashmiris are unfortunately of none. They don’t care. Pakistan does not care. Your India does not care. The self-proclaimed leaders of Kashmir does not care as well. Their only motto is to make good amount of money. They educate their kids in lavish schools and colleges in India and outside India. They hold the properties across the world now. Whereas, the common rank and file unluckily fail to understand this theorm. Kashmir is a debate to debate on for every one on both the national and international forums. Speaking about Kashmiris we are with every one. We are with Abdhulla’s, we are with Mufti’s, we are with Geelani, we are with Congress, with BJP, with Modi, with Gandhi, with India, with Pakistan. We are with every one. There is this word in Kashmiri language called ‘Shuglee’ meaning ‘entertainers.’ We Kashmiris are such. We love enteratinment, we love to be entertained and we love to be entertaining. We protest, agitate and fight to our blood against an atrocity caused by your country. We come out on streets, we meet a blockade of all forms of life, we get locked down in our homes for months with no means of communication, we receive pellets, we get bullets, we get killed, we get handicapped, we seek ‘Azaadi’ from dawn to the dusk and then one fine morning all of a sudden to our surprise and shock everything turns nomal. The life comes back to its normal sphere. We are witnessing this from years now, we witnessed such in 2008 when the fuss of Amranath Land Row happened. We witnessed same in 2010 when a 17 year old school going kid Tufail Mattoo got killed by Indian men in uniform and we witnessed such again in 2016 post Burhan Wani’s killing. We never ever come to know at all who, when, where and with whom actaully settles(d) down the issue on a table. Thus, we begin to function normally back again. We, then after a little time turn out in numbers and vote for our political leaders in Indian elections. This is we, this is how our being is, this is how we tend to live and this is how we all will die one day.

The reason what actually moved me today to write to you is Masrat Zahra, a young 26 year old female photojournalist who was recently booked by J&K Police and Cyber Police Cell under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for uploading anti-national posts on her social media accounts with criminal intentions to induce the youth as per Incharge Cyber Police Srinagar, Tariq Ashraf; perhaps fogetting that Kashmiri is right now living a life in a lockdown within a lockdown. I sighed to my maximum when I went through the tweet of Tariq Ashraf along with a picture shared by Masrat Zahra a few years back I guess, of slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. To his wit and grit, I believe he was in a rush to be the hero of the day as the picture was captured by the photojournalist in one of the Muharram processions carried out by Shiite Muslims of Kashmir in 2017 and that very year every possible Muharram procession carried Burhan Wani’s pictures. Is this man for real, I questioned myself? The saddest part of the scene was created by Shahid Choudhary, the DM/DC of Srinagar city. He though is such a noble man working tirelessly for the betterment of the society round the clock but even he lost his common sense inorder to please Tariq Ashraf and his counterparts in the centre I guess when he replied to one of the tweets of Traiq Ashraf ‘Man behind purification of social media. God bless.’ This sums up all the mindset of a chair and the tale of pleasing gimmick. Social media in itself is a freedom of speech and a freedom of expression but your country has put barbed wires on such for us as well and especailly on journalists here. And, as the poet says,

Hasrat-E-Dil Hai K Main Teri Khule Aam Touheen Farmayoon

Tere Zameer Ne Tujhe Waise Bhi Badnaam Kar Diya Hai.

The very second day another author-journalist Gowhar Geelani was booked by the same agency. Both Masrat Zahra and Gowhar Geelani were booked because the Cyber Police received an information through “reliable sources” that they are indulging in writing and sharing pictures through their posts which are prejudicial to the national integrity, sovereignty  and security of India. Yes, you read it right ‘the reliable sources.’ The sources of the Kashmir, by the Kashmir & from the Kashmir. And, you Kannan on the other hand took a stand for us. You resinged for us. This saddens me the most. I do not deny the fact that you did what a person like me cannot dream of even in some forlorn dream. It takes guts and a skin to take such a step by stepping down from such a post, like our own son of soil Shah Faisal did. I felt it for him then, and I feel the same for you now. I really feel very sorry. But the other side of me being a Kashmir do not at all. We don’t deserve such, if you did all this for a reason and that the reason are us. We do not simply give a damn. We don’t at all, just mind it. In 2016, post Burhan Wani killing when Kashmir was locked down for months I remember Shah Fiasal tweeted, “I am the director of shut schools.” This touched the very skin of Mehbooba Mufti led Government and the next moment as expected Shah Faisal was removed as the ‘Director Of School Education’ to something below his calibre and dignity I guess. And, then time and time Shah Faisal through his social media forums or through his speeches took a stand for Kashmir and Kashmiris. I loved him for that and so did the majority here. When he called it ‘quits’ like you one day as expected he was left all alone by us, may be he wanted to be the Imran Khan or Arvind Kejriwal of Kashmir, I guessed. But still there was no wrong in giving him a chance if he thought of being such. But, today the scene is totally different as he is kind of jailed.

When I was in my school we had this very humurous teacher and I remember once he told us in class, “You know when Allaha created India and began to distribute beauty, He went from the top of India map and that is the reason we Kashmiris are very fair skinned and very beautiful in our appearance and the Keralites are quite dark in complexion (not meaning to skin-shaming at all personally though). But, when Allaha had to distribute intelligence and brains he started from Kerala only and that is the reason they are very much literate, intelligent and with brains and we Kashmiris are dumb and ignorants because we only got the leftover of the brains.’ They say dissent is the higest form of patriotism but in our case this does not exist. I am sure that you are a man with brains so don’t be a fool. Don’t be stupid. I know you resigned from your job and you can still make it pretty well in your life, you can educate your kids good, you can feed your family nice and live with utmost dignity and honour for the rest of your life but that is not purely you, what you are upto, what you are capable of and what you are made for because people like me want to see you there, we wish you to serve us from an office, holding a chair, reaching out to the people, helping us in distress of situations, hearing our pleas. I am not sure whether my words will reach to you or not but if they does I request you to resume your duty back. Through this letter I would also love to request the PMO & GOI to allow you to join your office back. I know and understand it well that it will surely take a toll on you in person but trust me you deserve that place not a place outside. What you did for me, for us and for whole Kashmir is remarkable and beyond appreciation but we do not really care. We don’t really deserve such amount of love and sacrifice from you. We are divided in sects, we are divided in opinions, we are divided in political parties, we are divided in separatist wings, we are divided in Azaadi seeking, we are divided in India, Pakistan and a separate state, we are divided as a socitey, we are divided in caste and creed, in genders, in geographical barriers, in dialects. We are of no ones not even our own. So how can we be your’s? We don’t remember you at all. We don’t know you, it is as simple as such.

Kannan, I pray my words reach to you and you rethink of resuming your duty back if the GOI allows you now. But, I would be really happy to see you there in an office soon.

Rest, Allaha surely is with the torn hearts.

Stay blessed.

Love From Barbed Wires.

Mohsin Ali Afeeri.

Dr Mohsin Ali Afeeri is a  doctor by profession & can be reached at [email protected].




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