Ashtangoo calling!

This tragic chapter urges us to think about our survival. Sooner the better

We have to have a strategy where we will make way for resolution of long-pending Kashmir conflict through peaceful means

Ashtangoo is a beautiful hamlet located on the banks of Wular Lake—Asia’s one of the largest freshwater lakes. Most of the habitations in Bandipora district are situated in the catchment area of Wular Lake and villages like Ashtangoo are a part of earlier popular tourist circuit— ‘ride around the Wulur’. A ride around the Wallur is an old story now but the chain of these villages is in news for one or the other adverse reasons. Ashtangoo is in news for the death of its two sons on the same day by (known and unknown) gunmen. Both the young men were buried in the same graveyard and their last rites were performed by the same set of people without asking a question about their affiliations and ideology for which they laid their life. These are tragic but also thought-provoking incidents of coincidental deaths. Nasir Ahmad Sheikh a welder by profession in his twenties got killed in cold blood reportedly by state-controlled security agencies at industrial area of Rangreth simply because he happened to be at a wrong place at the wrong time. And just a few kilometers down the Rangreth karewa at Hyderpora locality Nasir’s fellow villager thirty-year-old Shazad Dilawar Sofi a constable in Jammu and Kashmir police fell to bullets of unknown gunmen.

Nasir and Shazad will represent not only Ashtangoo but the whole of Kashmir for years to come a futile war of egos that seems to have no end and is exclusively fought at the cost of Kashmiri people. Most of the people will label these two dead young men to be affiliated to two different camps but in fact the two young Kashmiris became fodder for the canons of conflict that has its roots in partition of the subcontinent in 1947 and is spiraled relentless by the nations otherwise cherishing their own freedom at the cost of poor Kashmiris. Nasir and Shahzad’s blood got smeared on the politically black canvas of Kashmir making very little difference but Ashtangoo lost its two young sons to a conflict that they might have never thought in their wildest dreams will discriminate even its dead. However, people of this beautiful village to their true Kashmiri ethos did not discriminate their dead sons and gave them the equal respect they deserve for their tragic death in the prime of their youth. Thus Nasir and Shahzad joined the thousands of dead who have kept the protracted Kashmir issue alive.

The genesis of these killings lies in Kashmir conflict that stares at India, Pakistan and most of the nations who claim to be champions of peace and prosperity in the world. Ashtangoo deaths are a tragic source of introspection for all peace loving people who believe in justice and equality. On the one hand, a young struggling worker is killed for no fault by state-sponsored forces. Forces who are otherwise supposed to be disciplined even in the most testing times but the trigger happy uniformed men bother least about human rights and value of life. I am sure the trigger happy uniformed fellow who targeted Nasir on that black Thursday will not be at peace—thinking only about that terrible mistake. The death of Shahzad is no less tragic! A policeman having no personal agenda or strategy of his own but pursuing the commandments of an egoistic political dispensation to enforce the order against a paltry sum of few thousand rupees of emoluments. Shazad a source of survival and sustenance to his young family now lying under the mounds of the earth will be turning in his grave and think only about his helpless family. No doubt, at the end of the day as true believers we are all bound to respect and find solace in the Almighty’s wish and wait for His benevolence.  

If Ashtangoo graves are unable to open our eyes, Kashmir will witness a large scale annihilation that suits none other than our oppressors and halfhearted sympathizers. We as a nation have to stand rock solid against oppression and injustice but have to be practical while deliberating upon justice and equality. We have had enough of martyrs, orphans, and widows and cannot afford to receive more coffins while many of us will be relishing the power and wealth. We have to have a strategy where we will make way for resolution of long-pending Kashmir conflict through peaceful means and will make stubborn nations and its people to understand the value of sacrifices and empowerment they have been themselves longing for decades before attaining freedom.