And India Sodomized Kashmir ...
“I was in my teens when I was sodomized by the Indian state. The political “private” organ of that mercenary pierced my tender body. He did not tear me up. He broke my senses. It felt as if he inserted a rifle into my heart. The Indian state had succeeded in distorting my physique.” My friend breaks down before he is about to narrate his ordeal to me. He was confiding in me. It was difficult to persuade him to do so.
“I was young to comprehend things the way I do now. Though I distinguished “my own” and “their own”. I knew olive green uniform was the superlative degree of khaki one. I took them as the dreaded villains of our childhood horror stories who added technology to their arsenal. I understood crackdowns, cordons, encounters, parades, card checking like most of the Kashmiri children do.”
But he could not resist it that day. “ProbabIy I never saw it coming. I never knew what the Indian state was upto. I should have reminded myself of the crackdown when, before many years from this incident, an armyman had taken me to a side from the parading ground and started touching my breasts. But I could not.” He kept lamenting his inability to react.
He says that he was harassed so much that he began following their orders. He was then asked to tread an empty alley, where they followed him. “He took me behind a building and ……….”. Unable to speak, because he is busy shedding tears. I cannot console him. He has been holding this secret for a good six years before he broke it out to me. “I could not even tell my parents or friends or anyone”.
My friend regathers himself. “I kept to myself in an emotionally difficult phase of my life. One of the reasons was that I did not want a pitiful or sympathetic feeling usually associated with “victimhood”. I wanted it to become my strength not weakness. Getting trapped in victimhood prevents any sort of productive action which I never wanted. I did not want people to look at me and say waai bechor.”
For my friend, there have been recurring thoughts of this experience. “Their symbols never allow me the luxury to forget and move on. I spot my perpetrator everyday. On roads. In schools. In bunkers. Dressed in dark uniforms wielding automatic weapons. I denounce them, and their employers, each day. I resist their control over me, and my people, every single day.” He says he does not want to forget it.
Around the same time, more stories of sodomy and sexual abuse in prisons and elsewhere by armed forces were reported. And the trend has gained momentum since. There are many many boys like this friend of mine who might have gone through such painful events. And for the risk of losing social acceptability, they are not able to come forward and open out.
India in Kashmir has long been using sexual violence as a weapon of war, and is not only directed towards women but also numerous young boys who are sexually abused in police stations and elsewhere. Boys never reveal such incidents for the fear of losing “mardaangi” which stems from the oppressive patriarchal structure in vogue here.
Indian state is the Indian government, Indian judiciary, Indian people, Indian media, Indian civil society, Indian intelligentsia and Indian constitution. It is also the progressive liberals, the right-wingers, the radical humanists and even the self-proclaimed leftists. Any crime in Kashmir committed by forces also manifests the will of this ensemble that forms the Indian state.
We, as a nation, prefer not to bandage our wounds. We choose to live with our scars. They are not signs of our humiliation but unabated rebellion. We ooze blood everyday to stain the colours of Indian occupation.
We prick our wounds again and again so that we never forget.
And never forgive.