An open Letter to Mirwaiz Sahib
Published on March 17, 2017

Respected Mirwaiz sahib,

I can well understand your deep anguish on the killing of seven year old Kaneeza during an encounter between the security forces and militants in Kupwara district. That an innocent child who was in no way connected with the violence that has permeated Kashmir is abhorrent and no words are enough to condemn this ghastly act.

In this hour of our collective grief I do not wish to debate your assertion that this killing is “worst example of state terrorism and forces atrocities committed on the people of Kashmir. Yet, I would be failing in my moral duty towards Kaneeza if I don’t draw your kind attention to the bigger picture. Many Kaneeza’s have died in the past and many more will in future if all you are going to do is to merely offer condolences and make accusations!

However insensitive it may sound but the harsh reality is that it doesn’t really matter anymore whether the bullet that killed Kaneeza came from the gun of a soldier or that of a ‘freedom fighter’; what does matter is that a tender seven year old life has been snuffed out and what hurts the most is that politics is being played over this death. Don’t mind my saying so but nothing can be more reprehensible than the attempt to draw political mileage out of such a painful human tragedy.   

Mirwaiz sahib, there was a time when you stood tall amongst our leaders because you never hesitated in speaking out your heart. I still recall the very poignant and veritable observation you made that militancy in Kashmir hadn’t achieved any results and it had only “created more graveyards.” Nothing has changed since then except that you have today become a prime defender of the ongoing ‘armed struggle’ in Kashmir and thus your u-turn on violence in Kashmir really intrigues me!

Ofcourse you have been justifying your support to militancy by saying that the youth in Kashmir has been pushed into militancy due to oppression, but having undergone the trauma of losing your revered father to senseless violence do you genuinely believe in the illogical philosophy that violence as a means to fight oppression is justified?  It was Gandhi who by saying that “an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind” had warned the world of the disastrous consequences of responding to violence with violence and Kaneeza has just paid the price! 

This brings me to another very important issue that I’m sure must also be worrying many others besides me. Mirwaiz sahib, if you sincerely believe that the ‘armed struggle’ in Kashmir is warranted then why didn’t you talk about this in your video conferencing address to the discussion panel on ‘Kashmir: Breaking the Impasse’ at Harvard University? When thousands of our ‘freedom fighters’ have laid down their lives for the sake of ‘azadi’, why did you shy away from making any mention of their sacrifices?

Eulogising the ‘armed struggle’ at home while avoiding any reference to it while addressing international audiences leaves one with a lurking suspicion that there is something negative about the ‘armed struggle’ in Kashmir is being hidden from us. However, while this may not be the appropriate time or the right occasion to debate this but the crying need of the hour is to do something to prevent killings of innocent Kashmiris. Mirwaiz sahib, Kaneeza may be dead and gone but let her death not go in vain- the least you could do is to give peace another chance. Though I can’t say for sure whether peace would get us our ‘right to self determination’ but I’m confident that the ‘armed struggle’ most certainly won’t!

Yours Ect,

Niloofar Qureshi

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