Thursday, 30 June, 2022

Crossing Divides: What happens when pen pals reunite

Duaa Bhat is a 17-12 months-previous woman in Indian-administered Kashmir, a single of the most greatly militarised zones in the world. Two decades in the past, she grew to become pen buddies with Saumya Sagarika, 18, from the country’s money, Delhi, in a bid to comprehend the different worlds they have been growing up in.

The military has been deployed in Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-the vast majority region, due to the fact the increase of an armed rebel in 1989. As Saumya found by way of her letters, Duaa’s research had been interrupted by strikes and school shutdowns. The dilemma was generally compounded by the Indian govt who would intentionally shut down or “snap” internet and social media.

Then, in August past calendar year, the govt taken off Kashmir’s unique position – which presented a degree of autonomy beneath posting 370 of the country’s structure – and imposed a conversation clampdown. Educational institutions ended up closed, 1000’s which includes politicians were placed less than detention, and cellphone strains and web have been blocked.

5 months later on, as the federal government started to relieve communication limitations, Saumya commenced crafting to Duaa again. Right here are edited excerpts from their letters.

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Expensive Duaa

A heat good day from Delhi. How are you? How is absolutely everyone in your spouse and children? We failed to actually carry on our guarantee of being “pen friends” after our last round of letters, but I am very delighted to restart our dialogue.

A great deal ought to have modified in your everyday living and the conditions all around you in the previous two a long time way too. I acquired to know that Area 370 was eliminated from Kashmir a few months again and for some time telecommunications were being snapped there, and internet is possibly however not operating.

I am certain the predicament will have to have transformed. I hope anyone is secure there?

Pricey Saumya

A chilling salaam from Kashmir.

Chilling for the reason that it is definitely, truly chilly in this article these days. I am superior and, Allhamdullilah, everyone in my relatives is performing great. We didn’t continue on remaining pen buddies for the reason that the world-wide-web in this article is down most of the time and keeping in contact with everyone outside the house the valley is a undertaking in alone.

I was really satisfied to know that you’ve got started university and your scientific tests are heading very well. People today like me have endured the most in the previous couple months. We made use of to research ourselves with some assist from the magic of the world-wide-web. Only the Almighty is aware of how we’ve finished our syllabus in time for exams.

People today here are not delighted with the removal of our distinctive status. Individually, I experience depriving men and women of even speaking to their near and pricey ones is a violation of human legal rights.

Saumya, most men and women, which includes myself, do not have an understanding of the protests in the relaxation of the state. News channels here do not give us ample facts to recognize what the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) definitely is. Can you temporary me about them?

In December, India’s parliament handed the CAA, which features amnesty to non-Muslim unlawful immigrants from the a few close by Muslim-the greater part international locations – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. It sparked massive protests as several deemed it discriminatory in opposition to Muslims, a little something the governing administration denies. Saumya, a Hindu, joined the hundreds of primarily Muslim ladies in a Delhi road protest from the new citizenship laws.

Expensive Duaa

It is pretty chilly in Delhi as well but the mood is really hot.

A several times again, I went to the protest at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh. Women have been protesting versus this act there for the previous 26 days. These gals are not college professors or activists but homemakers, females who stay in purdah, who have stepped out on to the streets to protest. They are preventing this struggle so their young children are in a position to guide their lives in peace.

Immediately after witnessing the enthusiasm among folks at Shaheen Bagh, I’ll say men and women are well prepared to struggle this fight for our legal rights.

In your final letter, you wrote that you’d heard slogans like, “They wished Kashmir to come to be like India but have created India into Kashmir”, ended up currently being chanted in Delhi. You are 100% right.

Because this protest motion started out, all of Delhi is emotion like Kashmir. Like world-wide-web/telephone shutdowns, area 144 (curfew) getting imposed, stone-throwing and police lathi-charge (utilizing long batons) during protests. So I can say that now I understand Kashmir and the circumstance dealing with people dwelling there pretty very well.

Expensive Saumya

From what you explained about CAA, I sense we are going back in time as an alternative of moving forward. I nonetheless are unable to imagine that even in the 21st Century some persons discriminate from some others on the basis of caste, faith and, in some pieces of modern society, even gender.

These protests are a evidence that people however imagine in getting a stand for each other and that humanity is still alive. Not like other destinations in India, Kashmir has been truly quiet about this act. In our hearts we know this act is wrong but these times we Kashmiris couldn’t treatment a lot less about what’s occurring exterior the valley. Our voices, our legal rights have been neglected in the past and are staying neglected proper now.

A couple of days ago, a Niti Aayog (a governing administration imagine tank) member VK Saraswat defended the communication ban and he went as much as stating that Kashmiris do nothing but watch “filthy movies” on the net. Even though he apologized afterwards, these remarks cannot be just thrown out of our minds. Do men and women there really believe that way about us? No a person is chatting about the issues we are going through appropriate now because of to the world-wide-web ban. Are we genuinely invisible to the relaxation of the region?

Spiritual identities arrive up repeatedly in Saumya and Duaa’s letters. In 1989-90, at the commence of the riot, hundreds of countless numbers of Hindus – referred to as Pandits – were terrorised into leaving by Muslim militants. It tore apart the hundreds of years-old harmony that existed in between the two communities.

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Dear Duaa

I truly feel that folks in this article take into consideration Kashmir a treasured house of the nation and will not give any great importance to its people today. Just past 7 days, there was a discussion on the film Shikara on Tv. The film is dependent on Kashmiri Pandits. There has been no discussion of their plight for the past 30 decades in this article. And I don’t assume that folks will go to enjoy this film or talk about it even now.

As a result of our letters I have been able to comprehend a great deal about Kashmir and Muslims, which is diverse from frequent perceptions. We have plenty of relatives close friends who are Muslim but are unable to examine this kind of difficulties with them openly, lest we offend them. This CAA difficulty determined me to protest, even however I am a Hindu.

As I have recognized Kashmir via your letters, it has eliminated my apprehensions and created me even more curious about Kashmir and Kashmiris. Before I was scared for the reason that of the graphic developed by culture and the media. But following our discussions, I am psyched to go to Kashmir to understand and encounter it myself. Is the Kashmir valley open for persons from outdoors now?

Expensive Saumya

I am writing this letter not from Kashmir, but from one particular of the most holy cities of the earth – Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It truly is an wonderful emotion to enjoy Muslims from all all over the planet come to pray here.

I feel glad that you know the fact about Kashmir. The valley is open up for visitors now (formally) but for us Kashmiris it was and will normally be open up for the individuals outside the house.

You know there is a place in the Khanyar space of Kashmir, where by worshipping spots of different religions are located on a single hill. At the bottom is a Gurdwara (Sikh temple), in the center a shrine and at the prime a temple. My mother’s maiden property was close to that area and they experienced Pandits as neighbours. In my childhood, my mom made use of to tell me several tales about the brotherhood between different communities.

Kashmir is a definitely lovely place to are living and I pray to the Almighty in this holy town of Mecca to make Kashmir a peaceful spot yet again and to restore the brotherhood that was misplaced. I am closing this letter with the hope that my dua (want) will come true and you will come to Kashmir to meet up with me.

With plenty of appreciate


Illustrations by Neelima P Aryan

Crossing divides

A year of tales about bringing individuals alongside one another in a fragmented entire world.

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