To plunder, butcher, steal, these things they misname empire:

They make desolation and they call it peace- Publius Tacitus

When rest of world is under virtual lockdown to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, Kashmir is under the twin garb of both, Virus-lockdown and imposed normalcy. In Kashmir, the very words, lockdown and normalcy allude to the number of collective malice and malpractices. These two terms refer to the blend of both, silence on violence and violence on silence. The paradoxical paradigms, such as lockdown on normalcy, and normalcy in lockdown, run periodically throughout the year in the disturbed valley. The military coinages- restrictions, curfew, cordon and all out operation have been used ferociously since the dawn of independence to impose normalcy in an otherwise turbulent state. These linguistic descriptives take care of people like a vaccine to the virus. They immunize Kashmiris with anonymous tools of impunity. Infact, Kashmir has so long lived with such companions of calm and combat that it becomes difficult to differentiate peace from war and war from peace.

In Kashmir, lockdown and normalcy connote several confusing contretemps. Here, lockdown is cursed, beaten and betrayed period of time, defeated by normal standards of procedure. It is an imprisoned period, representing a microcosmic replica of normalcy. To put it more simply, lockdown signifies a time of detained normalcy. The period of normalcy on the other hand is the time of extended lockdown. The two terms are intricately related to each other like cause and effect. They closely work hand and glove to form a chain of violence against the free speech. The legitimacy of lockdown has always conquered the troubled normalcy in the tattered streets of the valley.

The word normalcy over the time became a misnomer of multiple signifiers. The contradictory axiom at times denote a major development in curbing voices, maiming militants, and burgeoning military, in the so called abnormal areas of the state. Infact, here normalcy implies to the period of people’s preparation for impeding emergency and military’s openness to inhabit more areas. Between the period of endless preparation and abrupt operation, the native town starved of bread and butter crouches on the knees. It slowly slips through the pauses and gaps of tyrant tides and yet again survives like the myth of Sisyphus.

Similarly, normalcy or a period of silence is actually a phase of surveillance in Kashmir. It is enmesh and opportunistic time, when the entire world sleeps with us. It is this time that novel themes are written under duress. The lockdown relatively relieves the burden of living in a phase of secret scrutiny. In lockdown, romance suffocates in self concentrated rooms, but in normalcy lives suffocate under suppressive streets. The contradiction between the two is as complex as the concoctions to the Kashmir history. In lockdown, people dream of setting themselves up in the settlers place, while in normalcy, people crave for food, for attention and for attestation of enduring unfair affairs. Thus, normalcy or the assumed peace is also cursed, betrayed and beaten period of censorship and condemnation.

Kashmir had been frequently under curfew, as Sumantra Boss in her book, Roots of Conflict Paths to Peace records. She continues that in 1990’s the curfew sometimes lasting weeks, to prevent the recurrences of mass demonstrations. Many of the houses as Mirza Waheed states, have secret histories buried in their many wooden vaults. There is no gaze beyond the castle of clouds, no movement beyond the eternal sleep and no melancholy beyond the sullen faces. Kashmir is a place violated over the years by ruler and ruled alike. Here, the two sides of the same crown have since been waging a quite battle against the threat of their own extinction. They paradoxically act as the saint and sinner, beloved and the betrayed to inflict infinite pains on the common people of Kashmir. They play hide and seek to appease each other and suddenly disappear from the stage.

David Davidas in his book, the Generation of Rage in Kashmir states that 2008, 2010 and 2016 are the three major points in recent history of Kashmir. These years were swept away by frequent lockdown and communication blockades. The turning gyre of lockdown and normalcy again raised their ugly head in the midsummer of 2019. Despite the lapse of ten months, neither normalcy nor lockdown has completely deceased from the streets of Kashmir. Infact, both are stationed here to continue the alternate policy of war and peace and inflict further miseries on the common people.

The state callousness and opportunism have turned hope into rage for young Kashmiris. The political vacuum coupled with institutional paralysis exploded a volcano of swirling wants and opportunistic alliances turned these aspirations into dust. The illusive ideas of peace are sponsored through t.v studios and then sheltered in the secret selves of lockdown. In an abnormal state, the normalcy is achieved without initiatives, reconciliation without consultation and re-habilitation without counseling. The normalcy has been so much ruined that it accomplishes a doomed fate. Nowadays, in the pandemic times, lockdown embraces the cursed normalcy and they together spend the curfewed nights, in quiet corner of a further room by most unspoken understandings!

Javeed Ahmad Raina is a school teacher and can be mailed at: javeedahmadraina44@gmail.com


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