‘Rumours’ aside, Kashmir’s rage on the abrogation attempts of Article 35-A is now manifesting into routine affairs, even surfacing on a wedding invitation card. As the date of the hearing is drawing closer, the Valley is apparently following the judicial proceedings on the state subject law like never before.
When JKLF’s first commander-in-chief Ashfaq Majeed Wani fell in cross-firing at Downtown Srinagar’s Hawal area on March 30, 1990, Kashmiri weddings spontaneously rose up with the new chorus: “Ashfaq Majeed Kas Maje Zaw, Anhouriey Mazaaras tchaw” (Which mother bosomed Ashfaq who died unwed).
As it became the new wedding anthem of the valley, slowly the trend picked up, and many more made it to folksongs. Years later, the weddings in Kashmir witnessed the grooms and the brides being given farewell with slogans. Ace poet Zareef A. Zareef sees it a continuation of Kashmir’s defiant legacy from the days, when a certain slogan greeted Akbar’s Mughal Darbar in the Old City, where his fort had come to establish as an imperial writ.
At the peak of 2016 uprising, this defiance resurfaced when a bride from Eidgah was given a send-off with Azadi chorus, while the grooms that summer would first chant slogans, before bringing their brides home.
The trend reflected how the larger political situation in Kashmir often trickles down and influences its cultural and daily practices.
When a fresh plea against Article 35-A was moved in the Indian Supreme Court on August 27, Kashmir reacted by downing their shop shutters, deserting roads and breaking into random protests. Although the police tried to placate the rumour-induced-rage at the drop of a hat, many believe Monday’s protests only served as the larger reminder, of how Kashmir sits on a powder keg on the entire issue.
Later that day, a wedding invitation card went viral on social media and gave away a sense of a public build-up in defence of the state subject law in Kashmir.
The wedding card came from Kupwara where the groom Bilal Ahmad served an invitation with a message: “Article 35-A is our identity.”
For commoners like Bilal, the crusade comes from the rampant realisation that the Article’s abrogation will throw open the floodgates and inflict demographic changes in Kashmir. With that, they fear, Kashmir will possibly lose its Muslim-majority character.
It’s this growing sense which makes the commoners restless and reactive.
This past Eid, when shoppers thronged the markets, many of them were seen talking about the August 27—the date earlier set for the hearing of a bunch of petitions filed against Article 35-A in the Supreme Court of India.
Amid festivity, the defiant mood was on full glare. Most of the ferrying cabs had posters—Save Article 35-A—pasted on their windshields.
In the recent times, Kashmir had witnessed such public defiance against the 8-year-old Muslim nomad girl’s rape-and-murder by a fringe Hindu group in the Kathua region of Jammu.
But now, as the hearing date is drawing closer, the K-campaigners are warning of stern consequences, in case of any attempts of abrogation to the state subject law.
A larger sense prevails in the valley that the BJP and allied outfits are now using courtrooms to achieve their old political motive of completely integrating Jammu and Kashmir into the Union of India. And given how 2019 elections in India isn’t far away, the campaign, many say, only suits the BJP’s vote-bank politics. By sending its own party member with a fresh plea against the Article 35-A in the Indian Apex Court lately, the BJP is fast shedding its political posturing on the issue.
To counter such moves, both Kashmiri unionist and the resistance camp have sent their advocates to Delhi to plead for the case. Even the PDP—the party which lately got dumped by the BJP and maintained a hush over the entire matter while in power—has sent the seasoned lawyer Muzaffar Hussain Beigh, known for his eleventh-hour defence for Maqbool Bhat’s execution in 1984, to fight for the case.
Amid this growing political suspense, all eyes in Kashmir are apparently set on August 31—the day of the hearing.
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