Afzal Guru: How India made a militant out of a med-student

Published: February 12, 2013
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This is not just Afzal Guru’s life story; this is the story of every Kashmiri man. PHOTO: AFP

Afzal Guru was hung on Saturday. As predicted, the Indian political fraternity and intelligentsia not only welcomed, but applauded the development. They saw it as a culmination of the legal process-the law of the land taking its due course.

News channels repeatedly telecasted the footage of the attacks on the Indian parliament as if to convince themselves and their viewers that justice had finally been served. To borrow the words from the Supreme Court judgment, “the collective conscience of the nation” has been satiated.

On the other hand, the reaction in Kashmir has been the polar opposite. Emotions resembling anguish, pain, desperation and anger surround the local people. Their lives have been brought to a forced standstill; all of Kashmir has been put under a strict curfew. Television, mobile networks and internet have all been suspended- there is no connection with the world outside.

With pained hearts, some students gathered the courage to protest at Jantar Mantar before being attacked by Bajrang Dal activists and being arrested by the Delhi police.

To the Kashmiris, Afzal Guru represents their collective victimhood at the hands of India. His story is the Kashmiri story and every Kashmiri relates to it.

He was an MBBS student and had Kashmir not been a conflict zone, he might have been a successful doctor today.

Much like every adolescent Kashmiri, he too felt utterly distraught when hearing about a Kashmiri woman, from his vicinity, being raped by Indian soldiers. He was a young boy who – like all the other men in Kashmir – would feel completely humiliated and helpless at not being able to do anything to protect his own people.

He detested the daily humiliation he and his fellow countrymen were subjected to; he wanted things to change, so he decided to try and change them himself.

He wasn’t given a death sentence, he was murdered.

This is not just Afzal Guru’s life story; this is the story of every Kashmiri man.

In the 90s, Afzal, in a fit of momentary emotion and angst decided to abandon school. At this point, this young mind joined a militant group thinking that this was the only way to free his nation from the clutches of indignity.

Many people whether Kashmiris or not would have done the same thing in such a situation.

However, very soon Afzal realised the futility of this and surrendered, trying to live a normal life; but the system just wouldn’t let him. Continuously harassed by the intelligence services, he was meted out the worst possible torture and humiliation; they tried to force him to work as their informer.

Finally Afzal was charged with the attack on the Indian parliament. They forced him to confess on TV and made a media trial of him before the actual trial could even begin and finally, they handed him the death sentence.

Every Kashmiri’s trial is made into a spectacle by the self-righteous Indian media. This is how they think they have served justice – with a media circus.

State oppression and the media propagandists made a militant of a medical student.

Exactly the same thing has happened to a countless number of Kashmiris by the Indian state – we have been denied our rights.

The reason every Kashmiri feels the pain of the fate meted out to Afzal is because they understand what he set out to do and who he set out to free.

His death serves as a reminder to the people of Kashmir that they are utterly helpless; the Indian state has not changed. They have been told once again, loud and clear, that there is no place for Kashmir’s emotions and grievances in Indian polity.

Afzal’s sentence being carried out at the time of elections also shows how far the Indian politicians will go to win and how easily they are willing to sacrifice people like goats for an increase in their vote banks.

The Indian state did not let Afzal live a peaceful life because he rebelled against their injustices and the Kashmiri people will not be allowed to live in peace because they cared about it.

The Kashmiri people do not see Afzal’s hanging as that of one man, they see it as the hanging of an entire nation.

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