Amid attacks on Kashmiris, saner voices from mainland India call for ‘sanity to prevail’

Just as the news of 49 CRPF men killed in the deadliest attack in Pulwama reached mainland India, the entire country collectively burnt in rage. In no time, the wave of nationalist sentiments dominated social media with a large section of society seeking “badla (revenge)” from Pakistan. Soon, internet memes got replaced with graphical-content like: “We want Surgical Strike 2.0!

A day past the incident, as Kashmir woke up to a usual winter morning, Jammu witnessed an unusual start to the day: taking the shape of violence and anger, leading to a curfew.

It is unusual, because it’s the valley that is habituated to shutdowns and violence; while Jammu has majorly remained unaffected, regardless of the daily happenings related to conflict in Kashmir.

But this time it was different – the Hindu-dominated region with pro-India sentiments was agitated. Reports of attacks on Kashmiris in the area, amidst chants like “Bharat maata ki jai” and “Kashmiriyo wapas jaao” surfaced on social media.

Not just Jammu, Kashmiris also ended up becoming soft-targets in places like Delhi, Bihar and Dehradun.

The fear was evident in their voices. For instance, some 15 Kashmiri female students who on Saturday locked themselves in a hostel in Dehradun, fearing the mob demanding the girls to be “thrown out”, were terrified and pleaded to be rescued.

A trader from Kupwara, who has a shawl business in Jammu, alleged the residents called him by names like “terrorist, stone-pelter, and what not“.

In fact, the situation back in mainland India has been so “sentiment-driven”, that a colleague of mine, Imtiyaaz, indulged in a heated debate with his journalist-friend in Bangalore, who works for an international media organisation.

While she justified the people’s outrage by blaming the national media “for shaping the wrong narrative”, as per my friend, “that did not make any sense”.

“I argued that extremism can in no terms be justified and that the individual has to have the sanity to not be so-driven by the anti sentiments. The outrage has been scary and life-threatening, and that, in no way could be justified,” Imtiyaaz says.

He believes the support from the “sane individuals” like Rajdeep Sardesai, Mahrukh Inayat and Kavita Krishnan should be highlighted by the media, and that, he says, should serve as an example to the “hate-mongers”.

When yesterday a group of mob attacked the traders from an exclusive ‘Kashmiri Mela’ in Patna, it was Kavita who spread the word and came out in support of the businessmen.

She wrote: “…MLA Mahboob Alam will lead a team to the area asap, we’re also contacting the DGP etc to demand protection for Kashmiris, action against mobs, hate-mongers.”

While Rajdeep Sardesai, in support of the targeted students, wrote: “Want to tell any Kashmiri student out there, if you are being targeted in any manner, feel free to call/DM me. My home and heart is open to you as are that of thousands of right thinking Indians. Let’s fight forces of violence together: you don’t have to bear the cross of terror.”

Sardesai hasn’t been the only one who has opened his doors for Kashmiris. Jignesh Mevani, an independent MLA from Gujarat also wrote on Twitter: “Any Kashmiri in Gujarat requiring assistance, please reach out to me via Twitter DM. It is deplorable to see targetted harassment of Kashmiris in various parts of India. In this tragic moment, we have to stand together and not divided.”

While another journalist Mahrukh Inayet believes “for every hate monger there are ten who will come to help”.

“…Let sanity prevail,” she tweeted.

Senior Journalist Sankarshan Thakur said that hounding of Kashmiris is what the perpetrators of Pulwama attack want.

Another senior scribe Pankaj Pachauri pointed out that people of Chattisgarh are not punished when Maoists attack forces. Why are Kashmiris being targeted.

Seconding the saner voices, Barkha Dutt said that those attacking Kashmiris are ‘anti-nationals’.


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