What does Afzal’s death mean?
Perhaps, beyond angry outbursts and slogans nothing was left of Kashmiri intellectuals engaged in understanding problems of home land. Afzal Guru was hanged and pens were strangulated. I was one of the people who protested at Jantar Mantar, with no strategy, no political statement, I bundled myself with others to the station, to enter a site of ‘mourning’. Kashmir has a rich culture and cultured production of ‘grieving’, when someone dies, everyone assembles and expresses grief verbally and through wailing. That is what I found myself doing.
For people in Kashmir, it was another grieving, just yet another but for people in India, it was a grieving and mourning over the death of cherished democracy which they once thought they had owned. Perhaps, for Indian people who have struggled to restore justice to Afzal, had undertaken it as a project to restore democracy itself. The disappointment for them is much robust. This time when they ask me, what will happen to Kashmir? I say, perhaps something good. Afzal’s hanging has affected the memory and history of conscious Indians beyond repair. I see people no longer argue with me instead appear somber. It seems the question, what is wrong with Kashmir? is now What is wrong with India? Afzal is a collective memory of bruised Kashmiris and newly hurt Indians.
Another, empty grave is earmarked for Afzal in Kashmir, next to Maqbool and this time Kashmiri responses are more informed, political and mature. With ethical formulations and critical thinking central to the discourse of nation-hood, Kashmiri people are evolving for a new genre of resistance, perhaps more international this time, hoping to carry along their Indian sympathizers.
The webpage I recently encountered says a lot about how people are gearing up to engage the world on Kashmir’s political resolution. The About Page reads:
This website is created in memory of Shaheed Afzal Guru who symbolizes and epitomizes the innocent oppressed Kashmiri Nation under Indian rule. This portal serves as a one stop resource for generating awareness pertaining to the execution of Shaheed Afzal as ordered by the Supreme Court of India. The materials provided here are already published newspaper articles, blogs and columns for helping improve the public understanding of the injustice meted to him. It serves as a researchable database about the man and his occupied nation. This website is an attempt to break silence over Kashmir.
Shaheed Afzal Guru was hanged on 9th February, 2013.