Kashmir, a region that lost its existence as a separate state since Akbar’s invasion and controls over it in 1586, had witnessed tyranny, felt pain, and experienced the darkness of conflict and insurgency, and it is still boiling in the same hell this way or that. She had been and is a theatre where half-mothers, half-widows, pellet-hit children and young men, psychos and disappeared souls perform their roles. Basharat Peer, the author of the novel Curfewed Night has described and shown it remarkably in his book. He has drifted from the tradition – ‘if there is a paradise on earth/ it’s here, it’s here, it’s here’ (Jahangir); or ‘here, every countenance is a moon/ every speck a star/ this is the valley of Kashmir/ the emblem of paradise.’ (Aabroo, 1968) – and recounted the tragedy he had been encountering around him as a citizen, rather a background character. Similarly, Vishal Bhardwaj’s movie Haider, partly based on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Peer’s memoir, presents a moving picture of Kashmir, not as heaven but inferno, where souls had been suffering or still enduring the scimitars of Partition (1947), insurgencies and civilian disappearances that took speed after the infamous Pandit exodus, pangs inflicted by hungry and insane renegades, destruction of lives and property, identity crisis; and where the people during early mornings are characterised by crackdowns, men being taken away from their homes, questioning of young men, and mothers being condemned to spend the rest of their lives looking for their sons who have disappeared. In this paper, I will focus on Kashmir, where the general populace is denied access to basic human rights, endure the pains of conflict and their insensitive neighbours for whom she (Kashmir) is an apple of discord, and the constant attempt of Kashmiris to free themselves from the tiger grip of their hungry neighbours and their utter failure in this venture which has turned Kashmiris as mere psychos – through the lens of Peer’s memoir and Bhardwaj’s Haider.
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