Kerala is one place where I can breathe: Gowhar Geelani
“Today is the 181st day that all forms of internet has been banned in Kashmir. Eighty lakh people there are literally put in an open prison called Kashmir. And why we hold these conversations here is because it’s Kerala. Or it can be held in Kolkata. These are very few places where one can have conversations like this.” to a great round of applause from the audience, Srinagara based writer, journalist Gowhar Geelani explained the situation in Kashmir. He was speaking at the Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters 2020.
The session “Rage and Reason, the story of Kashmir is a mix of rage and reason, and it is often beyond what meets the eye started with the screening of a documentary film which showed the ground realities of violence in today's Kashmir. Kashmiri journalist Iffat Fatima and writer and social critic Achin Vanaik were the other speakers.
Achin Vanaik said that there is no other part in the world where the proportion of armed personnels to the number of ordinary civilians is worse than in Kashmir. Palestine does not come close. This is the kind of history that you have had here.”. “To kill someone in the ground, you have to kill them in the mind”, he added. He also criticised the way the right wing stamp people anti-national. Referring to the referendum in Scotland, he said what we would tell Kashmiris would be that “ the unity and integrity of India is sacrosanct. We will not let you go your way, we will fix you, but we will not let you go away. By this we are saying that the land is more important than the people. We are doing it for you, but if you don’t like it, we will fix you.” He said that, you have to win people over towards the question of nationalism.
Iffat Fatima who has been working in Kashmir for over 25 years said that “resistance is so deep rooted in Kashmir that there is no question in the Kashmiri minds that there is a military operation under which they are living and they are suffering. And they are still hopeful that they will get out of it.” It might take a hundred years or a two hundreds years, but we will get out of it, she added.