“I hear it still snows in my city of love;
I hear the snow still melts
On lovers palms;
In a foreign land
I hear the news from home;
They say it snowed today,
Not white, but red
I hear it snows red in my city of love.”
This powerful verse penned by the contemporary Kashmiri poet, Aamir Wani is a fitting poetic description of the precariousness of life in Kashmir over the last few decades.
On Thursday 21st November, the SOAS SU will be screening Khoon Diy Baraav (blood leaves its trail), a documentary that explores issues of violence, memory, and politics in Kashmir through the lives of families of the victims of enforced disappearances. The film will be followed by a discussion with the filmmaker, Iffat Fatima, and Kashmir scholars Touseef Mir (University of East Anglia) and Amina Mahmood Mir (University of Westminster). More details for this event can be found here.
On Tuesday 3rd December, SOAS South Asia Institute will be screening Haider, a transcultural adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet set in Kashmir. This will be followed by a conversation with its writer Basharat Peer and the novelist Mirza Waheed on the subject of ‘Writing and Filming in Kashmir’ and its representation in the popular culture. More details here.
Suhail Bhat, a 26-year-old Masters’ student at SOAS from Kashmir, doing his LLM in Human Rights, Conflict and Justice, says:
“When you lock down a population and take a decision on their behalf, you break the safety vault of democracy, which is dissent. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but that entitlement has not been extended to Kashmiris. These events are essentially giving space for opinions and thoughts that are felt by Kashmiris.”
Suhail who has worked as an advocate in the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir states:
“These events and discussions have managed to place the conflict in Kashmir in a global context. Along with my curriculum here at SOAS, they have made me realise that the idea of human rights transcends borders — that emotions are as important as legalities. Not everything that is legal is moral. What happened in Kashmir, can happen to any state in India or any region in the world. This is why dialogue, especially for budding academics and practitioners is important, and not many spaces in the world allow that.”
The SOAS India Society put out a statement in solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir urging that the ‘siege on the state be lifted immediately’.
The SOAS Student Union, too, put forth its stand, stating that they are against ‘the Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)’ and pledging their solidarity to the political struggle of the people of the region for self-determination and Azadi.
As conversations unfold and protests continue to empower, it is in time to see when its echoes will be heard thousands of miles away in the Indian subcontinent. Until then, hope finds itself in another verse of the poet Aamir Wani:
“I will return to you
When the mourners leave
When children will make
snowman in our backyard,
When your blood-smeared shawl is cleaned
by the rains,
When the prisoners will be freed from the chains.”
All the above-mentioned events are free to attend. Creating a safe space for students to talk about the situation of the region, they aim to bring awareness and highlight the voice of Kashmiris, who have been denied the right to put forth their perspective.
- Devyani Nighoskar is a 23-year-old SOAS student from India. A former journalist, she is currently pursuing her M.A in Critical Media and Cultural Studies. You may check out her work on Instagram @runawayjojo
Image Ladakh, Kashmir (c) R. Singh, Flickr