Monday, February 23, 2009

Maximum City – Being Indian in the Indian Capital

The Delhi walla's pretension in writing makes me want to lodge a bullet in his balls - Blogger Nimpipi, the woodchuck chucks
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"India is Not My Country"

A young man from Kashmir says that India is not his country.

[Text and picture by Mayank Austen Soofi]

He is half Delhiwalla but the 18-year-old Mr Peerzada Shah Fahad avoids the label. He may have two homes but he says he belongs to only one.

Mr Fahad's handicraft trader father has a six-room house in Srinagar but each winter they migrate to this four-room rented apartment in Delhi's Lajpat Nagar, a neighbourhood which is home to the communities of Kashmiris, Afghans amongst others. Here Mr Fahad has made many 'Indian' friends. Here his older brother is a call centre executive in Gurgaon. But Mr Fahad doesn't think he is an Indian, much less a Delhiwalla, thank you very much.

"I'm Kashmiri and we're different from Indians," he told me one day as we were sitting at Central Park in Connaught Place. "Our life, our food, our language is very different."

"So is that of a Tamilian," I said.

"But our religion, too, is different," argued Mr Fahad, "We're Muslims."

If this unwillingness to embrace Indian identity was built merely on the exclusivity of Islam and Gushtaba, it would have been easy to dismiss Mr Fahad. He would then have been just another angry, confused kid from Srinagar where there's no pub, no disco, no cinema; just mosques, morgues and cemeteries. But Mr Fahad is more nuanced, more multi-layered, more complicated.

His heroes are all Indians. Mahatma Gandhi: "Because he believed in non-violence." Aamir Khan: "Because in Rang De Basanti he sacrificed his life for justice." Arundhati Roy: "Because she speaks truth even if it's bitter."

Mr Fahad has downloaded the entire text of Roy's The God of Small Things onto his MP4. He has seen Rang De Basanti more than 10 times. He marvels at the comfort level in the Delhi Metro. Yes, he likes India. "Mumbai has such fast life, Calcutta has fine old buildings and in Delhi, people are very helpful," he observed.

But sorry, Kashmir is another country.

"My Delhi friends tell me that we Kashmiris think of ourselves as too special when we are just another part of India," he said. "But they don't know what's happening there; they don't know the history."

History, of course, is Kashmir's biggest burden. The first time Mr Fahad felt its weight was when he first lifted a 'martyr's' coffin on his shoulders. He was 12, in VI standard. It was an everyday story: firing in the mohalla, a body, no relatives, no identification paper except a ring with a name: Abrar. "Perhaps he was a Pakistani," Mr Fahad said. "We buried him before midnight."

The last time Mr Fahad stood by Abrar's grave was last year in August when there were again disturbances: calls for the azaadi, rallies, firing, bodies, martyrs. "I'm now used to the feel of coffins," said Mr Fahad. "I know they would keep coming till Kashmir gets freedom."

If this lad just wants azaadi from India, then why come to Delhi each year? "Did the Indians stop going to England when they were under the British rule?," Mr Fahad shot back.

The glitz of Delhi is no match for this young man's bitterness. The horrors of home are too overwhelming. Not for Mr Fahad a blue-chip job and a life in the world of malls, multiplexes and suburbs. "More than a lakh people have died in my country and each of them must have three or four grieving relatives left behind," he said. "I want to do something to make their lives better."

Do such career ambitions coming out from a pimpled teenager hint that India's newly acquired soft power has failed to impress the Kashmiri youth? Will no allowances be made for the fact that an unprecedented 62 per cent of the electorate participated in the assembly elections of December, 2008? Will no chance be given to the cheery charisma and movie-star looks of the state's new chief minister?

"People voted for roads and drains in the assembly elections," confessed Mr Fahad. "But we still want azaadi from India. We also want peace."

On September, 2008, when Mr Fahad turned 18, he had immediately applied for a voter's I-card, not out of a sudden love for India but because "Indian authorities ask for it everywhere." Else, this I-card has no value.

For, like his parents, Mr Fahad, too, has no plans to vote in the national elections scheduled later this year. "My vote won't make a difference," he remarked. "Come to Kashmir and you'll see yourself that India is no democracy."

Mr Fahad plans to apply for a graduation course in Delhi University this year.

You may also like to read:
Maximum City – Being Indian in the Indian Capital
A lady from Northeast India is called 'chinky noodle' in Delhi.

20 comments:

Kartikey said...

I am from 'Jammu & Kashmir' (Make note of the name).

Women in SWAT, in Pakistan, said recently on some television station that their government should stop wasting time on Kashmir and India and look inwards, inside, withing the country.

The context of religion, differentials between 'Hinduism' and Islam lost to human right; the will to live.

Mr. Fahad has been given to understand that another country's rule or exclusive control of a religion over his state would give him happiness and peace.

He is mistaken. And he would have his fellow religion-wallas vouching for that... From Rushdie to the common paan-walla to that common Pakistani friend of mine-- who agreed that the freedom to religions in India is "overwhelming" and that "normal" people in Pakistan wish for this freedom.

His is a classic example of literacy versus education.
Despite the Indian Army's crimes, it would be horrific to wish for another country or religion to take control of Kashmir. I can sit here and criticize the Army and stand in support of the people from J&K.
And that--despite her shortcomings--is India.

A good report, Mayank.

Rima Kaur said...

"I'm Kashmiri and we're different from Indians," he told me one day as we were sitting at Central Park in Connaught Place. "Our life, our food, our language is very different."

"So is that of a Tamilian," I said.

"But our religion, too, is different," argued Mr Fahad, "We're Muslims."

WHAT THE FUCK? i am sitting here in the comment box, writing and erasing paragraphs upon paragraphs. its always the others who dont treat you well, isnt it? bloody hell, when you yourself arent being a part of the country as a whole, why should the country give a damn to you?

Sharad said...

I personally feel it is very easy to sit in front of a comp and leave criticizing comments about any random guy who thinks he s not an Indian and better off in being called a pakistani.But the sad part is that fahad is not the only 1.go to kashmir and u ll see a lot of youth sayin the same thing.It may sound disturbing but people are actually sick of all the blood shed and army-raj there.Loose a brother,sister,father,mother,wife,lover to a bullet from an attack and we all will be sick living in this country and it's system too.only love and acceptance can make these people feel a part of the indian society.

Rima Kaur said...

so sharad, you are assuming that only people living in kashmir have lost their loved ones to a bullet. the 1984 anti-sikh riots not only cost us our friends, but also our family. i wasnt born then, but my family did not stop calling themselves indian. this is our country and we have a right to live here. people in kashmir have a right to live here too. i know there are hundreds, thousands of people from kashmir who dont consider themselves to be indian. if thats their way of dealing with stuff, then i wish them all the best.

Kartikey said...

@Sharad

people are actually sick of all the blood shed and army-raj there.
Loose a brother,sister,father,mother,wife,lover to a bullet from an attack...

There is army-raj as you call it and army is unjust. But "brothers, sisters..." etc are lost because of the problem of cross-border terrorism.
Make Mumbai or Delhi as unsafe as Kashmir and there would be similar problems. It wouldn't mean that the country is purposefully making hell for the states under siege.

And who doesn't love or accept people from J&K? You are confusing religious acceptance and issues of regionalism. Kindly read Mr. Fahad's comment:
"But our religion, too, is different,"

The problem of terrorism is at the centre of all injustices and it remains the major problem. And while we solve it, we must address the army problem as well.

In no way is the Indian army singularly creating havoc on the state. Should they leave, another army (armies) shall occupy J&K making Mr. Fahad's life unlivable.

Anonymous said...

howmany of those condemning arundhati have sons/fathers/brothers in army/crpf/bsf posted in Kashmir ?

Saifullah said...

rima - you happen to be quite clueless as per your comments on this artcle and arundhati roy. you seem reactionary and should practice such reactions. get to know the subjects well and form ideas based on balancing position in debating an issue.

kashmir has shed enough blood. pakistanis and indians alike have also shed blood. there really is no singular ending to resolving -- but, there is dialogue and peace can be attained by opening a dialogue and collectively forming a peaceful state. a human being does not look sikh, muslim, christian, et al..... everyone deserves a right to a dignified existence.

please, cut the crap of your childish analysis and learn history.

Saifullah Ejaz Khan
Delhi, India

Fahad Shah Peerzada said...

To Mr. Kartikey:
How you got to know that I want Pakistan rule in Kashmir or I want a religion rule. I only want peace in our valley; because we have lost more than 150,000 loved ones by the Indian forces in the name of protecting Kashmir.

And "what the fuck" means to Rima kaur?
She should not compare anti-Sikh riots to Kashmir. Her comments show she doesn’t know the past that Kashmir was a separate country before 1947. I think she should respect the sacrifices of Kashmir’s and try to fight for their rights, if she is a true Kashmiri.

I am thanking Mr.Sharad for understanding the feelings and sacrifices of Kashmiri people. We don’t want to merge with any other country; we only want justice and the promise, which Mr. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru did with the Kashmiri nation.

“Loose a brother, sister, father, mother, wife, lover to a bullet from an attack and we all will be sick living in this country and it's system too. Only love and acceptance can make these people feel a part of the Indian society.”
We only want this from people of India and nothing else.

Mr. Kartikey : “You are confusing religious acceptance and issues of regionalism. Kindly read Mr. Fahad's comment:
"But our religion, too, is different,"
Hello Mr. I don’t want regionalism. The blogger asked me why are you different from Delhi or Mumbai, so I answered it. You have taken it wrongly. You should try to respect the sentiments and religion of Kashmir’s.


If anyone wants to correct his confusion about me read my blog: http://www.struggleofkashmir.blogspot.com.

Aman Thind said...

First and foremost, hats off to Mr. Sufi for a bringing up this discussion. You my brother are learning the traits of filthy journalism, write about a controversial topic and get attention(viewers/traffic to blog in this case).

Now, why do we end up criticising each other whenever such a topic is discussed? First of all, as bloggers we need to accept that everyone has a viewpoint and dont push your opinion into anyone's mouth.

Problem of Kashmir in itself is far from issues of Region and religion. Its hard to understand what people in Kashmir want Azadi from? Is it India, Indian Army, Bloodshed, Poverty? If these are the desired issues, then where does Pakistan come from? Why is Pakistan so keen to help Kashmir attain its freedom, when things in his own SWAT area are worst than Kashmir? As Fahad said, "How you got to know that I want Pakistan rule in Kashmir or I want a religion rule. I only want peace in our valley.." It means his idea of freedom is that of Kashmir as an Independent Nation.
This idea is not only non-feasible, but childish. Lets assume India 'liberates' its part of Kashmir, will Pakistan do it?
It will be height of assumption if we assume it does, will Kashmir be able to survive as an Independent nation (Pakistan is living of World bank and US aid)?
And i can place a bet on this, that if India 'liberates' Kasmir, Pakistan will attack it within a day if Indian army moves out. What will be your agenda for the so called 'Fight for Freedom' from Pakistan? There wont even be the religion card available then.

So, having said all that, i want to say that this issue is far to politicized to be solved like this, and it will not be solved until Kashmiris become a bit realistic and think beyond religion and region. People like Fahad just need to think what different they are doing than what their elders did, and if they keep on singing the same Fundamentalist tune, generations to come will never forgive them.
Lets hope a solution is found soon to this problem that brings peace and prosperity to Kashmir and hence India...Amen

Rima Kaur said...

fahad

first of all, i cannot be a true kashmiri, because i am a sikh.

yes i agree that i do not know much about the kashmir issue. but it doesnt mean i know nothing at all. i know about kashmir being separate before 1947 and the whole hari singh thing. i am not so ignorant. two years of political science have taught me something, if not much.

secondly, no where have i compared the situation in kashmir to that of the anti-sikh riots. i was merely trying to say that there are other communities in india too, who have been murdered in the name of religion. it doesnt mean they stop calling india their country.

at the end of the day it all a matter of personal choice. it doesnt really affect me in any way. but i still am angry because i would not take the path you have chosen for yourself.

ill read your blog.

Rima Kaur said...

"please, cut the crap of your childish analysis and learn history."

if my comments seem so childish and worthless to you, then all i say is goodbye. i never claimed to be a know-it-all in the first place.

Kartikey said...

Mr. Fahad,
read my comment again. I am sure you would see it differently.

You want peace in the valley, you say so. Do not assume that independence would bring you peace. I could tell you that India is a better 'rule' for us than the other neighboring countries.
Instead, let me emphasise economy and education. And not delve on it for now.

I believe you quote the contribution of separatist parties and their armed movement as a boon. Who do you think they kill? Rest assured, it's not just the guilty who are killed. In any conflict.

You want freedom from Indian political leaders. So I assume that the leaders you are dependent upon are capable of better governance?

You can come to Delhi today, move in Tamil Nadu and work and eat in Mumbai. Despite the religious problems, do you believe that you would be shunted out of any city and would none of the law enforcing machinery come to your aid?

As part of India, and a part for many hundred years, do you find difference in food and language a hindrance to your happiness? Would religious exclusivity suit your human needs? You may refer examples of other nations and also find assurances in psychology.

The problem of regionalism is hurting Mumbai. Around 10 people die on the local train every day. Makes it 300 per month. Every killed member has a family that grieves for them.

Similarly, I am aware that people in J&K are caught in the cross-fire of violence. The heyday for Army would finish once terrorism is brought to a halt. And here is where I'd say you miss the point; the crux of the situation at hand. It's cross-border terrorism. And in fighting and avoiding that, the Army is bumbling; making goons out of innocent people. The Army is to be blamed and cross-border terrorism is to be stopped.

We should not waste time in fighting independence and sustain efforts to end violence. And here's why...

Because should Kashmir get independence tomorrow, the cross-border issue won't die. And Kashmiris would continue to shed blood.
Assured.

Milan Kuchhal said...

Not only the Kashmir but the whole Pakistan shuerly will become the part of Union Of India within next 10 years.......

Neeta Roshan said...

hey Rima, calm down girl. Saifullah is right, there's too much reaction to you. why not debate, rather than state one liners "proving" some analysis?

People should be able to debate views and learn from each other. No one "knows it all" but there are certain people who have an extensive background with subjects. I think one should debate opinions. Blogs are not just to sugar coat and agree to it.

Chillax Rima.

Great blog Sufi.

Regards,
Neetu Roshan

Fahad Shah Peerzada said...

Hi Bloggers,
U all are misunderstanding me, and I want to clear that it was not an interview I gave to Mayank, we were only talking about Kashmir issue.
U r writing about religion,i want to clear it that i personally only believe in humanity not in religion and also its true I dont believe in fundamentalism.
I think u have not read my comments properly and go check my own blog. I hate Pakistan more than u and more than that I hate separatists of Kashmir they are goons in sherwanis. I am not against people of India u don’t believe but I love Delhi more than Kashmir, I have more friends here (which all are Non-Muslims) than in Kashmir but how can I shut my eyes when innocents are brutally killed by anyone who has guns in his hand. I am only raising one question to all “how can peace be restored in Kashmir, till how much time common people of Kashmir have to see bloodshed???”

We now want to live in peace.

And I am again requesting u please not paste me as fundamentalist, if it will be in my hands I will cancel all the borders and barriers of the world.

I am only asking for peace peace & peace,weather it is in Kashmir or any other part of world.

Go read my blog: http://www.struggleofkashmir.blogspot.com.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Aman Thind and Kartikey. It’s India building infrastructure in Kashmir (a world class airport and a road and rail network). Just chill, be grateful for the fact that you are enjoying good education and life only because of India (the country you love to hate). Independent Kashmir won’t be peaceful, rather be attacked by your religion-sharing brother Pakistan!

Anonymous said...

Lights, internet.....Yawn. I hate to see so much bandwidth go to a waste.

BRUISED INDIAN said...

As Salaam A Leikum Fahad.
Go back to Kashmir then, and join the likes of 'Rage boy' and others who are voicing support in favor of Azaadi.
Make no mistakes; you will not get independance from the Union of India, not now, not in a million years.
You say you are followers of Islam and coupled with your different language, food and lifestyle then you should be accorded independance? Dont joke around! We have Bengali Muslims, Punjabi Muslims, Tamil Muslims, the list can go on; and none of them gave this senile reasoning!
If only; your people hadnt taken up arms, the Army or the CRPF wouldnt have been called in to restore law. If only you people had not come in Pakistans brainwashing methods, then as you say 1,50,000 lives wouldnt have been lost!
On you openly berating the fact that you are non Indian and are a Kashmiri, then I suggest you cross over to the Pakistani side! You wont actually miss any part of your heritage or culture in Muzzafarabad or Mirpur.
Getting yourself a house in Lajpat nagar, having a brother work in an Indian company, owning a business in Delhi and seeking comfort from the harsh cold weather by migrating to Delhi in the winters and lastly by obtaining an election ID card just shows your hypocrisy towards the so called Kashmir Movement. Even a damn drivers license will suffice all your proof of residence requirements or anything that you wish to apply or obtain. Or better still, get yourself a fuckin PAN card! That does the job well too!
You, Sir, are a moron, of the first order! Face it; this is war! People loose lives, people get killed and maimed, children, women, men, old, young, everyone! Dont be downright fuckin emotional and tell me you lifted a damn coffin at 12!
I havent seen a family member since the '71 war! And this is far too mentally taxing than picking up a coffin, cause I dont know whether that person is alive or dead! And it's all because of Kashmiri's like you!

Why dont you just cross the damn 'Aman Setu' and make Muzzafarabad your home!?! It seems to me you are also just one of those Kashmiri idiots who are fueling potential ambition once (never) Kashmir is Azaad!

Anonymous said...

This Fahad is either a moron or a fake character generated by mayank to gain some cheap popularity for his blog.

Even if Fahad is a real character. He seem like just out of madarasa guy..

so chill Fahad dude and enjoy what India is giving to you without asking any return.

JAI HIND

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