poonch firing

In Trying times such as these, when the world is handling the flux of cataclysmic events due to Corona-outbreak, one thing that comes as certain is that life as we knew it has changed. The discourses have already been divided between a pre and post Corona world and humanity at large is dealing with a giant shift where the threat that looms large is a threat that is much bigger than the two world-wars combined. The predictions have already warned that if we; the collective humankind, fail to control this hazard, the number of dead can be way larger than what the world has witnessed so far in any natural or man-made disaster. In a nut shell, humankind, as we would witness it in our lives, would never be under a more alarming attack.

But what do we make of the dastardly blitzkrieg that men have been engaging in at our borderlands, completely oblivious to the imminent danger to entire mankind? I have been writing about the mayhem at our borders, but I am sure the noise today shall be deafening enough for the rest of you as well in this otherwise eerie silence of lockdown. There are many among us who still cannot gauge the absurdity of the loud shells or the headlines that come long with it. But I am hopeful that for most of us, it has been coming in as a maddening shock, looking at men engaged in warfare like this when the war that we actually need to focus upon right now is totally the opposite. It is as if the threat that has been directly looking into our eyes for some time now and has been telling us all how easily perishable mankind is, is yet to awaken some ‘invincible’ men who cannot seem to look beyond their hunger for territories and states.

I have been taking the help if David-Wallace’s newly released book ‘The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future’, to sail calmly through this time and also ponder upon some bitter realities that we as humans need to see right now before it is too late. Well Wallace suggests that it is already too late to save-earth, but he tells us how we need to start acting NOW, or it shall be NEVER forever. For someone who has been engaged in research dealing with borderlands of India, there cannot be a time more frustrating than these. What has been happening at the borders in Pooonch, Uri, Kupwara, Keran etc along the line-of-control for the past one week is a matter of shame for collective mankind who couldn’t make earth more uninhabitable than it already is. The noise in the past-one week have been louder and so it has managed to draw a larger audience than usual. But these borderlands have always been on fire. Sadly, one has to wait for moments like these to cry for help!

How do you expect the border-people to fight a bio-hazard as frightful as Corona when you bomb them to death in their only quarantine centres: their homes? What should they save themselves from? The virus or the deadly shells? Please make it clear for them as they do not seem to live in privilege as many of us do, and hence cannot have options to choose from. It is death either way for them. Just tell them, as being the rightful citizens of both the nation-states on both the sides of the border, what should their priority be at this moment? Should they be the mindful global-citizens taking due precautionary measures in this global fight against Corona, or as anticipated, should they be left to survive as the people of peripheries, ready to be sacrificed at the altar of our dearly beloved territorial-sovereignty and nationalism? Shouldn’t your idea of nationalism save them at this moment?

It has been war since ages for our borderland-communities. What has been happening in Keran, Kupwara, Poonch, Uri is a real war they have been surviving since past many decades. Unlike the collective hope of the world today that one day we shall overcome Corona and shall meet with our dear ones again, go out live a happy safe life, share a meal, celebrate just being alive, well for Kupwara and Poonch, this hope has changed as four civilians bombed to ashes in the past couple of days died fighting a war they didn’t even get to choose.

A collective appeal to both the nation-states of India and Pakistan: please let our borderlanders fight Corona at the moment so that we save them today only to be sacrificed at the nozzles of your guns tomorrow. Their earth is indeed uninhabitable in their own tiny border-villages, and the story of their future is cast in stone, forever ready to be slaughtered for whose greed anyway? These borderlanders are your rightful citizens, proud Indians and Pakistanis. They love their respective countries like any of us, and take pride in their nationalistic fervor. Give them a chance to dignified life, please! The situation cannot get uglier than this. The idea of life has never been the same for them as it has been for all of us situated away from these volatile boundaries. Should we make them believe at the moment that a global-health emergency doesn’t include them? Can we make the idea of life anymore bare than this for them? We cannot protect our respective countries from a health-scare such as the one today when we cannot include our borderlands in our idea of the country we are trying to protect. The job which the civil-administration is doing at the moment in Poonch, Kupwara and other peripheries regarding the Virus-scare can only have a meaning when you, the states, ensure that there is life left to be saved.

How difficult can it be as humanists and as world-citizens to come to an agreement and ensure safety and peace for our borderlands? You signed these borders on papers through agreements. Sign another one today for the sake of humanity and choose to be on the right side of the history. Choose how you two arch-rivals and neighbors want to be remembered when our future generations will talk these times of corona fifty years down the line. I am sure you don’t want to be remembered as leviathans engaged in warfare along the line-of-control when the world was shutting down saving the planet from a virus.

Malvika Sharma is inhabitant of the borderland of Poonch. The Views expressed are personal. She can be reached at malvikasharma58@gmail.com.


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