“Sometimes your heart needs more time to accept what your mind already knows”.

“I had never thought it before that one day my heart would endorse those thoughts which were prevailing inside my mind. I was thinking that my heart would never let me fall for anything which used to give me sleepless nights, as I was considering my heart stronger than my mind. But destiny has always given me lessons to imbibe.”

For a long span of my life, I was not aware of wars, gun battles, protests, uprisings, unrest, stone pelting, and bombing. I had only a few memories to remember till 2007.

That’s when the army used to take us out of our houses and cordon us across our village to check the presence of militants. They usually used to assault locals and sometimes they used to chastise them and make them walk naked on streets.

Being a child of the conflict, these memories often haunt me and I regularly deride them. I always had questions. Why do young boys prefer to join militant organisations? Why army beat locals? Why do we need to show our identity cards to a non-local? Why do they enter our houses without our permission?

These questions gave me sleepless nights for a long span of my life. Why do they (militants) prefer to die at such a small age? What pushes them to do these things?

I think every Kashmiri has the same questions.

Who hasn’t tried to understand the conflict? Who hasn’t encountered the wrath of the army/police yet?

Since Burhan left this world, a thought prevailed inside my heart as well in my mind. It was giving me sleepless nights. Why am I not joining the rebels who are fighting for Kashmir’s freedom? Why am I another stereotypical e-warrior?

These questions bother me.

I used to feel uneasy thinking: Why I am not on the practical front? Why am I unscathed?

If I love freedom, I too have to sacrifice myself for the motherland which is bleeding since Partition. Every evening I pass my time trying to answer these questions.

I’ve always had questions in my mind about educated boys joining the path of armed struggle. Don’t they think about their beloved ones or are they the victim of oppression as well?

Usually, I feel distressed when I am not able to answer myself, and this continues regularly.

One of my friends used to divert my mind saying that I can do better than joining the militants. He used to tell me the difference between the sword and a pen, and how powerful the latter is. He always motivates me towards thinking straight.

That’s why his analytical thinking inspires me. This may be another reason that I still haven’t left my home to join any militant organisation.

Burhan’s death left indelible stains in our hearts, but the death of Basit Dar a local engineer and an aspiring blogger and writer scathed my soul.

Since his death, I am living my life in desolation. I have never had sound sleep. Every night I think about what pushed him to join militancy.

Until yesterday I had no answer. But an incident changed my perception and I overtly accept now: what they do is not their choice but duty.

I've got the answer to all of the questions. Now I overtly stand with Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s words:

“Give me blood, and I shall give you freedom”.

My tireless journey has come to an end, and I finally know what oppression means.

Honestly speaking my heart out, it’s not what every young boy thinks of. Maybe until yesterday, my thought about oppression was an army man beating you in public or a policeman thrashing you in any street.

I feel it hurts, and deeply aches your heart, when you are humiliated and harassed mentally when you are being forced to get naked, and you are hit at your private parts.

Yesterday I was humiliated by a group of SOGs who were behind barracks and were frisking every person who was passing nearby.

They stopped me and inquired about my vehicle documents. They were vehemently demonizing me.

I politely followed the law of the land and showed each and every document. One among the group of SOG persons was hurling abuses at every guy. Nobody shrugged at him, nor did anybody ridicule his acts. But still he did not stop his rude remarks.

He chastised some other people who were not carrying identity cards. I too was the victim of his verbal onslaught. He hurled each and every abuse he could think of. I was inside my car showing my documents to another person.

He came close to me: “Ma****od, tum VIP ho?” (Mo********er, are you a VIP?)

I politely replied: “Sir inhon ne bola hai documents dikhao, tou main wohi dikha rha hoon” (He asked me about my documents, so I’m showing them to him)

He: “Come out you moron, a**h***!”

Me: Sirr…

I came out and he started frisking. Take your pheran (a long overcoat) out!

I followed and took my pheran out. Tell me where your gun is!.

I was totally shocked. The only thought in my mind was maybe this harassment is because they want to kill me and prove that I have an affiliation with any militant organisation.

They dragged me, thrashed me and slapped me when I was told to show my identity card. I told “Sir Adhar card chalega?” (Sir, will the Adhar card work?)

When I gave him my Adhar card, he said that person on the card is not me, that I have spectacles and in the photo I don’t.

I replied: “Sir Adhar card walone ne aisay hi photo uthaya” (Sir, the Adhar card officials took the picture like this)

And he continued snarling at me followed by a dozen abuses.

The questions were giving me goosebumps. I had never been enquired this way. He quickly followed many questions, and I was replying.

My eyes were filled with the tear drops. I had never heard such abuses which the SOG man was hurling at me.

They asked me about my mobile phone, and I gave it to them. They ordered me to unlock it.

I was terrified, and my mind wasn’t working properly.

 “Sir battery down hai, ye khule ga nai” (Sir, the battery is down, it won’t work”.

They all started abusing me.

“Ath manz chueya azaadi video” (It seems like you have an Azadi video in it”.

“Err, sir nahi hai kuch iss mein” (There is nothing in my phone, sir).

I wanted to leave, so I told them a lie that I am a local boy. They thought it might spark a new protest; maybe that is why they let me go. Maybe I was lucky that they let me go. Else there would have been a different story. Either I would have been killed, or I would have been behind bars.

This incident put an indelible stain on my heart. I got an answer to all of my questions. I understood why these educated boys take the path of armed struggle. Behind every rebel, there is a tale of such harassment.

The highhandedness by STF and SOG has pushed most of the boys to join the path of armed struggle.

A student leaves home for university. On the way to the university, he’s being enquired at each and every check post for identity proof. When he shows his identity card, they question the authenticity of identity card; usually, they put this excuse that the person on identity card doesn’t match the person.

They make the young boys remove their clothes; sometimes they hit the private parts.

Such incidents deeply wound the heart and soul of every young person. Every student in Kashmir who is a regular victim of these things wants to get rid of such incidents. Thus, the only route they find is to take the gun and retaliate.

It’s high time for security forces to rethink such incidents. Otherwise the time is not far away when they face mass retaliation from the youth, who have been spurned disdainfully and harassed for no reason.

The police and army enjoy impunity, that’s why they misuse law. In the past, there had been many cases of harassment by police and military officers. No officer had has been yet punished.

They enjoy powers like AFSPA, thus becoming a reason for hundreds of young boys to take the path of retaliation. Such incidents are pushing the young generation to the edge.