Washington Post in a report published on Friday said growing numbers of young Kashmiris turned to resistance in 2018, according to official figures. However, not just the youth but professors have also started standing up against India’s atrocities in the occupied valley.
The WaPo story shared the account of Mohammad Rafi Bhat — “the kind of professor students adored, always ready to help with books, advice or small loans”. Bhat failed to attend a faculty meeting at the University of Kashmir one Friday afternoon last year and no one knew of his whereabouts till two days later, when his colleagues turned on their televisions, and saw that he was martyred in a confrontation with Indian security personnel after joining the youths resisting brutalities.
Some of those standing up against Indian heavy-handedness, like Bhat, are highly educated and have promising careers ahead of them; others are high school dropouts from rural villages, the report read.
Bhat, 31, received a PhD from the University of Kashmir and began teaching there. His students said they were crushed to learn of his death but described it as a form of martyrdom. “It is a personal choice,” said Mohammad Rayees Rafeeqi, 24. “You cannot stop anyone.”
“Critics say heavy-handed tactics by India have bred anger and despair. Kashmiris describe a sense of daily humiliation, sometimes petty and sometimes grave, together with a feeling of suffocation by a conflict that shows no hope of immediate improvement,” the report added.
The report also quoted Naeem Fazili remembering his son Eisa, a university student, coming to him in an agitated state after a young engineer was martyred in the 2016 protests. “You’re saying that we should arm ourselves with degrees and knowledge” to help the Kashmiri people, Fazili recalls his son saying. “But what did this degree give him?”
A school principal, Fazili placed a premium on education and sent his two sons to the most prestigious private high school in Srinagar. Eisa went on to study engineering at a university in the city of Jammu. Then, one day during his final semester in 2017, he disappeared.
The day after Fazili began frantically searching for his son, he received a call from a neighbour asking if he know how to use Facebook and directed him to a specific page. There, Fazili found a photo of Eisa holding an AK-47 rifle. It was “a bolt from the blue,” Fazili said. His son was martyred in an encounter with Indian security forces in March 2018, the authorities said.
Umair Gul, a doctoral student who has studied the history of the insurgency in Kashmir, wrote recently that educated Kashmiris have long been among those resisting Indian brutalities. But thanks to social media, such examples are gaining new prominence.