man, Akhilesh and Hanan aren’t unlike a modern reprisal of 1977’s Amar Akbar Anthony, and a living embodiment of the timeless ethos and values of India.
Unlike their movie counterparts, and away from any glitz or glamour, the three friends are quietly busy finishing their MA theses. They discuss current affairs, debate trending topics and help each other perfect their research. They agree to disagree on many things, but eventually reconcile on common grounds.
These boys from Kashmir know how to coexist like brothers, no matter what the rest of India thinks about them.
The attack on CRPF convoy in Pulwama and the subsequent violence against the Kashmiris in several parts of India has left the trio in deep deliberation about rest of India’s perception of Kashmir. They wonder why people choose to see the valley through only the lens of conflict.
A distorted prism
“The whole discourse has been hijacked by conflict. Of course there is conflict, but the diversity and understanding with which the locals live must be celebrated,” feels Aman, a student of journalism at MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
Aman shares his room with Hanan. Both hail from Srinagar. Hanan says that the current situation has emerged because people lack basic understanding about the ground reality in Kashmir.
“There are different people with different opinions and ideologies, but what can’t be negated is that an overwhelming population is against the status quo. People want to get rid of this political stagnation,” Hanan argues.
Akhilesh echoes the sentiments of his friend, saying that Kashmiris should not be stereotyped.
“Consciously or unconsciously people have stereotyped Kashmiris. This is not how things go in the valley, the reality is that there is sectarian, gender, educational, class, and regional differences among Kashmiri Muslims. Even in a single family, people take different positions from the established narrative,” says Akhilesh.
“It’s because of the failure of successive government, and the wrongful portrayal of Kashmiri Muslims in mainstream media, that now people outside Kashmir consider them as a monolithic community.”
A fresh narrative
Akhilesh and Hanan are working jointly on a multimedia project — The Forgotten Homes — on reconciliation between Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims. With their work they want to highlight certain realities about Kashmiri brotherhood that is hidden from rest of Indian. Something that will help fix the Kashmir stereotype and set the record straight.
“I won’t deny that there is an ideological clash between Muslims and Hindus in the valley, but despite that there are different sections within Kashmiri pandit’s community who are in favour of the resistance movement in Kashmir, and don’t see it as a religious conflict. It’s important for us to address each section, rather than concentrate on a volatile section,” says Akhilesh.
“There are times when we disagree with each other but we also try to understand each other’s perspective. We may subscribe to different political ideologies, but at the end, we all love Kashmir and that is what binds us,” adds Hanan.
Aman agrees with both: “Sometimes we spend whole nights in heated discussions. We hold totally opposite views on the Kashmir issue. But for me, issues become secondary when friendship is concerned. We keep discussing, and that’s the beauty of our friendship.”
No room for violence
Apart from attacks, there are calls for boycotting Kashmiri businesses and tourism. Meghalaya Governor even went on to say that the Indians should even boycott the Amarnath Pilgrimage. This, according to the three budding journalists, is not going to solve any problem.
Read full article here: https://www.indiatimes.com/news/hindu-muslim-sikh-kashmiri-friends-have-a-message-for-violent-mobs-stop-hate-mongering-362439.html