KASHMIRI YOUTH- DREAMS & CONCERNS!
Seventeen years of blood shed and mayhem, life in Kashmir is moving through a slot. With the wails of mothers, people wake up here and with the gust of bombshells, they close their eyes…forever! From custodial killings to enforced disappearances, fake encounters to broad daylight killings, from molestations to gang rapes, the youth of Kashmir has witnessed every horrendous incident. Youth in its full bloom brings new imaginings, new thoughts and a broader perspective to look at things, but in Kashmir, these naive entities who are yet to break the cocoons, unveil abysmal mysteries of life…
Despite facing the gruesome form of Human Rights Violations, the stakeholders of our future are still optimistic for a brighter and peaceful tomorrow and for the Nation of their dreams.
AFREEN NIYAZ, 17
JAWAHAR NAGAR, SRINAGAR.
Reticent by nature, Afreen Niyaz, a tyro of 12th standard says gender discrimination hurts her the most. Brought up in a conservative but nuclear family, this 17-year-old diva wants to become something ‘different from the rest.’
“I want people to shun their narrow mindedness and know that there is a world beyond the usual MBBS,” she says with ire in her eyes. A student of Home Science, she wants to become a dietitian. “People feel ashamed of these subjects, but I know there is a vast scope in it. Earlier, I was also reluctant but my parents supported me,” she says with a smile.
Afreen, who love singing and painting, feels that cast, creed and color should not be the distinguishing factors. “I want people to get educated in the real sense and curb the social evils. Besides this, I want to tackle the pest of child labor. These poor innocent souls are put to task at the age when they should be playing with toys. I want to bring awareness among masses about this growing menace to help these angels to live a better life.”
Asked her who is responsible for degradation of Kashmir, she answers in a moment, “Kashmiri People”. For her, Kashmiri’s themselves have tainted their Motherland and made it a hell! “It is we who gave birth to the most concerning issues of the society. Today corruption is taking tolls and we are doing nothing,” she bemoans. Injustice, pessimistic attitude, gossiping and beggary make her aggressive.
About her future in Kashmir, Afreen says she has a ‘bright future’. “I know it is difficult, but together we can make a difference,” conveys she adding, “I want my Kashmir to get free from the clutches of Indians.”
FARRUKH SALEEM, 18
He laughs at the thought of his birthday. “I’m one day elder than Gandhi Ji,” he chuckles. Born on October 1, 1989, Farrukh Saleem is elder among the three siblings. Fond of watching Hollywood thrillers, he says he is happy as ‘spinster’. “I don’t want to marry. I like to live life on my own terms. Marriage means loads of responsibilities on you, no?” he asks.
How do you see your future in Kashmir? “In dark, complete dark,” he answers. Why he is so pessimistic? He says, “I am forced to be.” For him, the ‘sense of irresponsibility’ among people has forced him to change his ideology. “I hate when people say we want freedom. What do they mean by this? When it comes to do something concrete for the society, we clinch back and watch things happening as mute spectators. We only know to chat!” he rebels.
He further adds, “There are hundred more issues concerning youth. Let us first confront unemployment, corruption and drug addiction… We lack unity. We ought to serve our motherland mutually, only then we should think of freedom.”
A typical ‘cool dude’ style, he loves to ride bikes. “I love to hang out with my friends on bikes but I don’t have one. My Ma does not permit me to buy. After countless attempts, I got a cell phone of my own,” he says. Who is your favorite political figure? “Hmmm… No one! I hate them all. But I think Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad is doing a good job,” he shrugs. Asked what makes him angry, “unnecessary rebuking of parents,” he replies instantly adding, “Also thrusting their choices on children and littering on roads make me cross.”
What freedom means to you? “Freedom for me is peace of mind, liberty to do what my heart says and justice to the meek,” he verbalizes, wrapping up the whole conversation.
NAIM ANJUM, 17
Belonging to a remote area, where three years back, the wrath of creature had fallen, consuming hundreds and thousands of lives, Naim feels lucky, as he was able to complete his matriculation. Son of driver who is uneducated and a homemaker mother who is eighth level pass out, he says, ‘life is difficult in Uri.’ “There is army every where and it is like hell to breathe in the air that is filled with terror!” he divulges. A student of 11th standard (Arts), he attributes ‘political instability’ as the root cause of the Kashmir issue. He arraigns the so-called political leaders for all the insecurity and uncertainty here.
“It is they who changed the fate of Kashmir and its people from happiness to gloom. Now we are strangers in our own realm and have to prove our identity to those who have illegitimately occupied our homeland,” he admits.
A soft-spoken, Naim Anjum aspires to join civil services and looks upon his uncle Mohammed Asif, an engineer as his idol. “He is a gentleman and always ready to help laypeople. I want to be like him and serve my people,” he asserts. Then he also gets enraged on seeing the brutalities of the armed forces on commoners especially his Uri people. “I loss my wits when I see my sisters and mothers being raped and molested. Later no body accepts those poor fate-bitten souls. Sex scandal still sends shock waves down my spine. There are countless examples of outrageous acts and we are doing nothing except filing cases for statistics,” he laments.
What change you want to see in Kashmir? “Demilitarization,” he reacts promptly. “I want to see my Kashmir in full bloom without violence and bloodbath. In addition, there should be no corruption and unemployment. Let my dream of serene and tranquil Kashmir come true (Ameen)…” he wishes.
ASIF SHABIR, 20
He says he is 75% disabled (albino) yet he is in no doubt that one day he will rule the world! He cannot read properly as his eyesight is poor, in spite of this he teaches at a computer institute. Filled with unparalleled and incomparable optimism and full of life, Asif Shabir, a B.A second-year student says life is not milk and roses for him. “I always have to struggle for minor things but I never lose hope. I have faith in Allah and know that one day I will succeed,” he shrieks.
He deems that nothing is impossible if one is determined. “I remember, in my school days, how I was disqualified for Seerat Conference by my teacher for being ‘disable’. I tried tooth and nail to prove my worth and finally I was selected,” he says with a sigh, “Best part is that I got 1st position in the conference,” he adds with a smile. He further says, “After that, I participated in Mushaira (poetry competition) at school level and was selected for the state level Mushaira competition.”
However, things are still the same for this gritty person. Not being ‘normal’ like his sibling, Asif says his very own family ‘discriminates’ him. “Irrespective of the fact that I always top, I am pitied and looked upon as meek by my family and friends. They think I am good for nothing,” he bewails adding, “These things can’t put me down. I get hurt but never mind.” According to him, brain drain, unemployment and drug addiction are the most concerning issues of the society.
Asif, who yearns to be an I.A.S officer and reach the pinnacle, firmly believes that one day or the other, Kashmir will get independence, whether he is there to cherish it or not. “When I am 75% disabled and still I can and I will contribute towards its development,” he continues, reacting to the statement of the girly gang who say there is ‘no future’ in Kashmir, “how can you people make such a daunting comment when you are 100% normal?” he asks. He also reveals that no body is ‘worthy’ to be his role model. “I don’t think there is anyone I can regard my idol, but I want to become something extraordinary so that people esteem me as their icon.”
More over, he shares the secret of his incredible confidence with readers. “I always follow an exceptional thought that gives me inward strength to overcome melancholy.” When asked about this principle thought, he says,
“Mushkilan azmaeshan hund sun samandar zindagi,
Subhanas mehshar ti shaamas shor-e-mehshar zindagi,
Zinde roz tithkan yithkan zindan manz rozak shumaar,
Lagawnai arsh malak Jibrael (AS) sind par, zindagi.”
ADNAN QADIR, 16
J & K ORPHANAGE,
Smiling at the idea of talking to media, he selected lawn as the place for it. Sitting in the bright and sunny day, I start the interview. He laughs…
Born in April 1992 in Gushi, Kupwara, Adnan Qadir landed in the orphanage in 2003 when he was in sixth standard. Living here from the past five long years, he considers orphanage as his own family. “People here are very hospitable and the other 300 children accommodated are like my own brothers,” he says about the orphanage.
Adnan, who intends to be an I.A.S officer, says illiteracy is the major concern today. “Our education system is too sloppy to fulfill the needs of all students. You see in villages, there is inadequate number of Govt. schools to accommodate the children, and besides this, there is no bathroom facility available in the existing schools,” he grieves. Apart from the ailing education system, he believes poverty, drug addiction are also burning issues, concerning society.
Idolizing the greatest of all the prophets, Prophet Mohammed (SAW), a humble and kind, Adnan says he follows a principle. “I make sure that I do a virtuous deed every day. I have made this principle my habit now,” he discloses. When asked, what kind of deeds he does? He says, “Helping the old age people, behaving perfectly with my fellows, besides offering Namaz five times a day.” According to him, forgetting the ethics of Islam is the major reason for degradation of Kashmiri’s. “I want to bring awareness among people about our religion Islam. Distancing from it means devastating your life,” he says. His hobbies are generating discussions among his friends, reading books by Maulana Mododi, Dr Zakir Naik, and observing nature.
About his own motherland, Kashmir, Adnan feels ‘things are changing’. “I firmly believe that Kashmir is developing but it will take some more time to renovate. Come what may, one day Kashmir will acquire freedom,” he ends up on an optimistic note.
PARVEZ AHMED WANI, 21
This young mind, belonging to a place that is known for protests against armed rule and the hometown of the martyr, Maqbool Bhat, is caught in a catch-22 situation where his own ideas contradict his ideology. He says, ‘Human Rights Violations make his blood boil’, but at the same time declares army his ‘inspiration’. He says, ‘frisking by army provokes him’ but at the same instant wants ‘no demilitarization’. He says, ‘Govt. job syndrome is at the peak’ but wants him to get a good Govt. job.
Parvez Ahmed, a graduate in humanities is one face among the myriad youth of our valley, trapped in the vicious circle of their lives. Working as an activist with a local NGO, Parvez aspires to join National Defense Service (N.D.S). He says, “Activism is his passion and wants to serve the society as a social worker.”
What he loves about his Kashmir? He comes up with a brisk answer, “Kashmiri culture.” Brought up in an army surrounding, he says, “Army has always inspired him to speak against despots.” He looks upon Gen. Secretary, State Social Welfare Board, Mr. Kaul as his role model. “He is a virtuous man who is always ready to help the downtrodden. This quality in him has made me his fan.”
Provided a chance to serve his nation, what will he do? “I will work for the upliftment of browbeaten women here besides boosting the rural and far flung areas,” he articulates adding, “Self employment sector also needs renovation. I want to provide opportunities to people by changing the mindset of competent authorities.”
TANVIR YOUSUF, 25
For Tanvir Yousuf, a medical representative belonging to a place which is an entry point to the valley and famous for gardens and religious harmony, faulty education system is the root cause of all the problems youth are confronted with.
“I believe that education is the crux of the matter and here in Kashmir, we lack the basic facilities. Lack of resources makes us incompetent to the outside world. I have been an IT student but the flaws in the system have made me to land into medical profession,” he laments adding, “The kind of faculty we have in our govt. schools and colleges is not worth. Teaching needs to be renovated as soon as possible.”
Son of a dentist father and house wife mother, elder among the three siblings, Tanvir aspires to reach to the zenith. His hobbies being surfing internet, traveling and reading books. According to him, people with conservative thinking make him aggressive. “We are living in the 21st century and still following the old customs! We call ourselves developed but our way to approach things make us morally degraded,” he says.
Tanvir wants Kashmir to remain the part of India because he feels that “it is better to be a part of a developing country than to be a novice.”
“Human rights violations are here due to the Indian forces but to some extent we are ourselves responsible for the mess we are in. so I think India is a better option than independent Kashmir,” he ends the conversation.
ZARQA SAKEENA, 18
Dressed in typical Abaya and scarf, Zarqa Sakeena, a student of BBA part 1st (who loves to write the spelling of her name as Xarqa), feels forgetting the principles of Islam and indulging into immoral, un-Islamic acts is the main cause for the social degradation of Kashmiri’s. “Kashmir is a Muslim state and if we mortify our basic fundamentals, we are plunging into the darkness of waywardness,” she says.
Inspired by the daughter of the greatest of all prophets, Hazrat Fatima (RA), Zarqa wants people to break the shells of misconception and come closer to Islam. “That is the way of life.” She believes that future in Kashmir is ‘not secure’. “You never know what is going to happen next. Further, our educational institutions provide no quality education and when it comes to compete at all India level, we stand nowhere,” grieves she.
Ask her who according to her is responsible for the present situation, she says Kashmiri people. “I think it is we who are responsible for our darker future. If we had started Jihad against tyranny, then we should have never bothered about the consequences. But today, we are distributed and the revolution is at its own place,” she laments adding, “we need to have a unified vision to be able to achieve our goal. The need of the hour is to be the activists and together serve our motherland.”
Zarqa desires to express her ideologies and thoughts freely. “That is freedom to me in the real sense,” she closes the talk on the optimistic note.
AMBREEN ANJUM, 20
INDRA NAGAR, SRINAGAR.
Dream of becoming an intrepid human rights activist, see Kashmir as a peaceful place, where there is no bloodshed and no carnage, Ambreen Anjum says she loves Kashmir unconditionally, and never wants to leave it. Alas! Not with a fairy tale ending! The sense of ‘no stability’ and ‘no guarantee’ has led the youth of Kashmir to fall in an abyss forever… “Recently, I had a narrow escape when the blast rocked Jehangir chowk,” she discloses.
Still her first priority is the freedom struggle. “I don’t want to take arms and fight for the rights but making people aware at national and International level also means to contribute something. National media presents an entirely different picture of Kashmir and people outside are ignorant about the real position here,” she reveals.
Ambreen was among the 11 students selected by the Govt. of India for the fellowship in US. “It was an enlightening experience and I got to learn many things. We had to complete four courses, viz International relations, American government, Creative writing and English literature in one semester,” she says. For her, there are lot many issues concerning youth but political instability is the root cause of all issues. “No doubt, we are facing other crucial issues like corruption, deteriorating moral values and faulty education system but once the Kashmir issue is solved, all the problems will get vanished,” she firmly believes.
She looks upon the eminent educationalist, Dr Aga Ashraf Ali and prominent writer, Arundhati Roy. “Besides them, I idolize all those people who have contributed towards the freedom of Kashmir in the real sense,” she proclaims.
In the end, she has a message for all parents- “Don’t thrust your choices on your children. Life is not just being doctor or engineer, there is a new world beyond this. Please come out of this traditional ideology and let them live their life.”