By Syed Arman Kazmi
Recently, there has been a discussion on the LGBTQ+ rights in Kashmir and absence of such a discourse in the society. This may not be entirely true (given the work few people are doing, especially Sonzal Organization) but it remains a fact that the views about LGBTQ+ in Kashmir- like most parts of South Asia are regressive. Not just about LGBTQ+, discourses about women’s rights, rights of minorities are also largely far from progressive.
But why is it so and who are to be blamed for this?
A share of blame goes to us, to our traditional uncritical approach and dogmatism of different forms but a large share undoubtedly goes to the Indian oppression, that never gave us any respite from bloodshed, murders, tortures, rapes, disappearance etc. to think and deliberate about these important issues. I myself got introduced to it and got some time to think about these issues when I went out from Kashmir. This oppression has affected everyone in Kashmir despite their gender, caste , class etc. It may vary in degrees but nobody can deny it.
Indian state never gave us any respite to deliberate upon these issues, for most of our time we were picking dead bodies, protesting against the oppression, collecting the burned pieces of our houses burned by Indian Army, covering our blood filled wounds, facing tortures in prisons and documenting the oppression.
After all this we had to justify to the world and to Indians that what India is doing is “oppression”. What time and energy did India and Indians leave us, to have a better life and to deliberate on social issues?
These discourses usually develop in academic institutions, which for most part of the year remain closed here. Even forming of any oganisation which helps in mass awareness is banned in Kashmir.So, the principle reason for every form of oppression here is Indian occupation. Indigestible- it may be to many Indian but this remains a fact.
If you are just opposing one form of oppression by supporting the other and at the same time using one against the other, then it’s nothing more than a propaganda and a huge disservice to the cause.
The other slogan they are raising is that freedom movement in Kashmir is homophobic. The space where this movement is actualised is Kashmiri society. Like most societies, our society too has homophobic elements and that may also reflect in their sense of freedom as well. But , is there only one sense of freedom in Kashmir. It’s not!
Not just in Kashmir but in any struggle either in past or present, different senses of freedom are prevelant.
Take the case of Indian Independence: Gandhi had a different castiest, anti-modernity view of swaraj, Nehru had a different view, and Ambedkar different. Then with some discussion and compromise a common ground was established.
Same is in our case, we have different notions of freedom and we Kashmiri’s are hopeful that , the sense of freedom that will prevail in JK will ensure maximum freedom to all sections of our society.
Lastly, those asking for marches in Lal chowk, please first mention why at the first place are marches banned in Lal Chowk. Why are freedom marches, religious processions banned in Lal chowk by the Indian Govt?
Stop Pinkwashing Kashmir!
(Arman Kazmi is a student of philosophy, currently pursuing Masters in Philosophy from University of Hyderabad.)