The Curious Case Of Essa

Kashmir has been witness to worst human disasters-  killing of almost an entire generation (directly and indirectly), countless unmarked graves, turning the land of hoors into a garden of half widows, orphaning thousands of innocent full of dreams kids, blinding tens of thousands youths, raping of women which includes the notorious incident of Kunan Poshpora which will always remain a blot on the map of India.

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India has been a nefarious oppressor, there’s not a peck of doubt in that. We have suffered too much, nobody can justify the war crimes India has perpetrated in the valley of tears. We, however, remained steadfast all the time. In 90’s Kashmiris picked up guns and took up the path of violence in an attempt to free themselves from this painful slavery which had encroached our lives, it was a pious struggle recognized by the entire world as a movement for the right to self determination. Kashmir was on boil and the light of freedom was almost in sight, one could feel the rays of freedom warming up our souls, India that time played a dirty trick and armed renegades who sent a wave of fear throughout Kashmir and everybody was shaken to core by their arrival. Kashmir struggle was hijacked. But who were those renegades? They were Kashmiris! We had given into to avarice. Finally, rebels were made to eat dust and that intifada died down. We were supposed to learn from that, we didn’t. unfortunately! There was second coming of intifada, this time it was not bullets but stones which proved more harmful to the Indian state than bullets of 90’s. 2008 was second coming of nu-age rebels who relied on logic, reason and unity (which was proven otherwise in the next decade). Such was the intensity of 2008-2010 intifada that India was almost willing to propose autonomy status to J&K. Some conclusions were always obvious, you could never steer Kashmiris away from political affiliations, be it an old man praising Mufti Sahab for his Modi style unfulfilled promises, or a college student flattered by the flamboyance of Omar Abdullah. You can still see many guys on twitter who despite being pro-freedom are trying to get replies from Omar Abdullah in order to satisfy their fanboy moments. This continued for 2010 too, as people thronged polling booths and voted for their favorite murderers despite continuous boycott calls by Hurriyat leaders. They literally walked over the moist graves of their brothers, the blood was still fresh on the streets. Tragedy is that in the end the entire blame was put on Hurriyat leaders. Life went on normally but the oppression of 2008,2010 had sown the seeds of hatred deep within, it was claimed by many analysts during that time itself that Kashmir would be bracing for another gun driven intifada which proved to be true with the emergence of Burhan Wani, commander of Hizbul Mujahideen (hereafter, HM). HM was popular as a democratic, somewhat secular rebel group whose basic aim was to liberate Kashmir and it is still true to its basic aim even today. They do have their doses of mistakes once in a while which is completely okay as we are aware of the chaos Kashmir is into right now. Everybody sensed the arrival of militancy back in Kashmir as news of someone killed somewhere became a regular headline in newspapers. Burhan released tapes calling for an end to the occupation of Kashmir. He reiterated his support to Hurriyat and thus everything was going on as a normal struggle for right to self determination should go on.

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ISIS came in like a hurricane, nobody estimated the effect it was going to have on Kashmir issue and barely anyone knew one day it’d prove to be more harmful than the renegades of 90s. One could see ISIS videos on the internet, it was a regular on every news channel, newspaper and magazine. Some Kashmiris were lured by their sweet sounding yet poisonous idea of caliphate and were inspired by their ideology. It spread like wildfire not just in Kashmir but all around the globe. You could see grown up people talking hysterically about these lunatics clad in black carrying flag of Islam without even considering the activities they were propagating. I have seen little kids making those crazy black masks and imitating beheading scenes of ISIS terrorists. Soon, it made its way into Kashmir protests, among the sea of green flags you could see couple of black flags (I have written a blog post in which I have defended these crazy dopey people by saying that they have grim existence in Kashmir, well I was proven wrong). That time too it wasn’t thought that one day they’ll have hijacked the entire struggle of Kashmir. Every Friday in almost every mosque you could hear the long-bearded cleric condemning ISIS with the harshest of words.

 

As long as Burhan was still alive, nobody dared to change the course of this movement, though he was very young but still his maturity was way beyond lunatics of today who flaunt killings as if they have brought a dead son back to his ailing mother. He was martyred in 2016, and I would regard that year as the year Kashmir changed forever, for good as well as bad. Rebel groups split, we now have 100 groups with 100 insignificant aims which are barely connected to the political side of Kashmir intifada.

 

One thing worth mentioning here is the inception of Zakir Musa as the head of ISIS in Kashmir. His flamboyance and texture was similar to that of Burhan and he managed to polarize the population of Kashmir into two groups viz Pro-freedom and the other the ISIS group ( the ones who have this utopia that Kashmir will become a darul-islam). His famous tape where he threatened to hang Gelani and Mirwaiz in the middle of Lal Chowk for their secular and pro-Pakistan views, this tape worked wonders for him as the population was already fed up of Hurriyat for their ineffectiveness with respect to handling of Kashmir issue and he managed to brainwash a lot of innocent kids into ISIS ideology. With all this happening in the span of one-year Kashmir is now moving towards becoming another Syria – owing to the polarization which has taken place in Kashmir. Everybody has an affiliation now. Everybody is bound to die. People are no longer into political solution of Kashmir issue, some don’t want a resolution at all, they want an Islamic caliphate, some want BJP rule, some are still going old-school and are still waiting for Omar Abdullah and Co. to give them autonomy. The real cause has ignorantly lost the plot. Kashmir is a battlefield in making. Unfortunately, it would be the most beautiful battlefield.

Kashmir

 

The Curious Case Of Essa Fazili-

 

Who was Essa Fazili? I won’t have to bang my head on this one. He’s a student of Burn Hall who later was doing his engineering from Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University Rajouri. He got into this ISIS thing and it’s not rocket science, he did join a terrorist organization. It doesn’t matter how or who made him do this, he was an adult who had a mind of his own capable of taking decisions. He died in a gunfight along with his two other companions. The real chaos took place there, one could see in his funeral there were way too many black (read ISIS) flag all over the place, with a couple of Pakistani flags too. The thing is why did we glorify him? He was not fighting for freedom, he wasn’t calling for a political solution to Kashmir issue? Some may argue he joined ISIS to liberate Kashmir, but he could have joined some other rebel faction who are calling for political solution to Kashmir issue. Right after hearing about his death, my heart sank. Knowing that he was a year or two elder to me and I was shocked to the core at the news of his death but the moment I came to know he was an ISIS operative I calmed myself down and immediately I tweeted this.

 

Surely, he is not my martyr. Yeah, I am shocked over his death but why should I glorify someone who has pledged allegiance to a terrorist organization. That makes me similar to the oppressor, there is no difference between me and the oppressor then. What’s more shocking is the reaction of blue-tick (read activists from Kashmir) holders of Kashmir twitter. They are supposed to be liberal and peace loving who I expected would tweet sense but instead they also took his death as an opportunity to carry forward their agenda. Some nonresident Kashmiris didn’t stay back either- they glorified his death despite knowing the fact that he was of ISIS faction. There was this girl to whom I showed all the pictures of him wearing ISIS t-shirts and flaunting with still in front of ISIS flag but still she didn’t accept the fact that he belonged to ISIS. How low can we go? Just because we are fighting against a cruel oppressor doesn’t mean we should stay silent over the other oppression which we ourselves are perpetrating. It’s to be noted that Essa had left home without the permission of his parents and his mother was moving hither dither just to get him back. Damn! This is the not the freedom I’m fighting for, this is not the way it’s fought. Our mothers have suffered a lot, we can’t bear to see them losing their sons anymore. You can’t even blame India here. He had joined ISIS by choice. Also, there’s this magazine from Kashmir which recently ran a story on their website titled – “The Art of propaganda” where they argue that all this ISIS thingy is the work of Indian agencies, who are leaving no stone unturned to delegitimize this struggle. Agreed, some of it might be true but at the same time you can’t ignore the fact that all these ISIS guys are known faces- they are Kashmiris. Our children are wearing ISIS flags on their faces, we no longer shout “We Want Freedom”- which is a very legitimate slogan. Also, there are many Kashmiri journalists who kind of acted irresponsibly, they despite knowing the truth and gravity of the situation still glorified Essa. Really? What were you even thinking? Don’t play over the future for Kashmir for your twitter points. Kashmir is bracing for the worst ever situation and you are the ones who would we have pinned our hopes on, but you are the ones bringing in your personal problems to win arguments and not worry about the consequences of your actions. We have lost many people to this conflict, but we can’t anymore now. We have reached our threshold. This needs to stop. For this we need to not give into hysterics and condemn all those people who take up this path instead of glorifying them.

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Yeah, mourn his death but please don’t romanticize him. Today if you romanticize him tomorrow it might be your own little kid with a  gun in his hand running out of his house to fulfill his utopian promise of Darul-Islam. The next day he will be clad in black flags and people would be calling him either a terrorist, a Pak sympathizer or an Indian agent. But nobody would be calling him a Kashmiri who died.

 

 

 

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My Land Is Dead, Silent.

Heart is numb, hands shivering
I’m fine, I tell them. I’m not
The sky here is colorful because of lights,
Back there it’s crimson, martyrs blood!
The pain in father’s eyes,
Mother’s wails, and you tell me
It’s just a phase, it’ll pass
dreams shattered like glass, she waited
Waited for the engineer to come,
And peck her cheeks and tell her
“Mom, I’m alive” .He isn’t
Heat has burnt my skin,
Back there cold has froze hearts,
Bullets, silenced the songs.
My land is silent. It’s dead.

All The Light I Cannot See, Either!

I read your story last night, the night was dark and chilly, curfew had got all people paralyzed inside their homes. I could sense the chaos in the silence, death in peace. Once in a while I could hear a gunshot very far away from my abode. I wrapped myself in a warm blue blanket. Somebody came in I didn’t care to notice turned off the lights and went away, I picked up this book of yours, it didn’t matter if there was light around me or not, we can get enlightened even without light. My small fingers traced the dots punched in the exotic smelling paper. Soon, I was taken to past, into your world-Paris. I could see you walking around Paris, jumping, laughing and singing. Tranquility! Marie Laure, you look beautiful. I see you holding your Papa’s hand as you walk the pavement leading to the museum. Museum is a spectacle, I have never been to any museum, I am glad you’d memories of that place even after your eyes went numb. You have seen antiques, old architecture, beautiful artifacts and many other fascinating objects. But, after the invasion of Paris, followed by your eyes losing all the light, you couldn’t see the horrors of World War but you felt it. Chaos was inevitable, moving in and out of places all the time, no matter where you’d go death would just be a breath away, blazing guns roaring, cities in flames, ragged soldiers looking at little girls with no shame but savagery in their eyes, music was dreadfully silent, only the chains of tanks moving over dead (sometimes alive) bodies produced scary sounds. War came with miseries and prices.  You’d to leave Paris and go to Saint Malo. Germans crawl all over that place, and you might wonder why you have to undergo all this. “Sea Of Flame”, the diamond is the reason. Legend says it is supposed to bring bad luck to the people around but the owner of this diamond won’t die. Marie, I found an uncanny resemblance of this diamond with something I love. You, along with your dad, took refugee in the house of your uncle. Your dad built you a replica of the neighborhood and hid the diamond inside it. I don’t need to walk you through the horrors you had to face, but that was not surprising, you were the owner of the Diamond, it was a given. Slowly they snatched everyone from you, your aunt Manec, the city everything. Every night you could hear bombings, gunshots, deaths and you could visualize blood. They took your father, your uncle and eventually you were alone fighting the tyrant. You’d nothing to fight them and each day someone would come looking for the radio (which was cleverly hidden by Etienne) or for the diamond, for which Van Rupel could kill the entire universe. Then came the messiah, Werner Pfenning. Despite being a German working for the Fuhrer he had that human heart which beat for love. He was reminded of that time when he’d hear your grandfather speak on radio the words of wisdom, he saved you. Marie, there’s a Werner yet to come in my life. He could never save his sister, Jutta, from the Russians but he saved another life.

 

Why am I writing all this, and why now? Marie, you might be right now wondering why would someone pick up a story from 1940’s and narrate it today and from a place which was irrelevant during the World War. Marie, I am a Kashmiri girl, I was blinded, not naturally, but by a pellet shot by an Indian Army guy while I was watching from my window (like you used to watch the war unfold) the fight against oppression. The guy directly hit the pellet at my eyes and all the dreams shattered at that moment, my dream of becoming a doctor, my dream of making my dad proud. Yeah, broken and shattered.

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You remember I told you I found a mysterious resemblance of “Sea Of Flames” with something which was close to my heart? Yeah, dear Marie that dearest thing is my homeland-“Kashmir”. A place which has been suffering under different oppressors in different periods of history and like “Sea Of Flames” it brings bad luck to everything. Two countries which were once brothers for life fought two bloody wars over this diamond called Kashmir. You know your Dad was tortured and eventually died, perhaps. He was trying to save this diamond to fall in the hands of oppressor. Von Rupel contracted cancer in the pursuit of obtaining this diamond. The situation is same my dear in Kashmir. They killed my Dad too. Many women half widowed, countless children orphaned. All for this “Sea Of Flames”.

“When I lost my sight, Werner, people said I was brave. When my father left, people said I was brave. But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?” –“ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE”

 

 

I remember when the oppressors killed my dad, my mother had died when I was just a child, I had to spent my days alone holed up in the dusty attic. In the same way you’d to when they took away your grandfather. They sometimes enforce curfew (not like the holocaust one, but worse), you can’t walk out your home and if you do they’ll beat you to pulp irrespective of your age or gender. Every night somewhere in Kashmir they go out to hunt the rebels and next day, like Werner and Co. they’ll end up with the dead bodies of rebels. Marie, I don’t have a lot to say, but yeah. If they say the war is over. It isn’t, the Nazis are still around. Be it Indian security forces oppressing Kashmiris, or Syria, or Yemen. There are people like you, Marie who are caught up in the crossfire for no fault of theirs. There’s always a “Sea Of Flames” which forces people to take up violence and kill people blindly. Marie Laure, I hope you are at a better place now. There’s a Werner yet to come in my Life.

The “Elegiest”

Why are you crying?

You’ve a long way to go

before your tears dry up

and you’d be freed of your misery

I’m tired- he said

unable to write those words

what are you tired of?

Aren’t you supposed

to write all your life

Isn’t it your job?

My job- he sighed

is to write a letter to a beloved

and ode to the fairies

pardon an innocent

and here I’m

writing

.

.

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.

an elegy

how long?

Is it in my fate to write elegies?

Will I ever write a love letter?

A postcard?

Today I will be writing two more

they’ll be sent to Pulwama

people wont even read it

they’ll crush it

they are fed up

but, you?

Will you ever stop?

My heart broke,

along with the pen.

An Ode To An Unmarked Grave

He left for school, never came back

his address, still unknown

Did he disappear? Die?

How many unmarked graves should I mark?

Or just tell me,

did he vaporize?

Tell me did he scream his lord’s name

When you burned his face with that hot rod?

Al-Rehman-u-Raheem

tell him, the ground he played in with his friends

it’s a graveyard now, his friends still there

you hated math, your home is a number now

I hate counting those numbers

they are too many!

That thread I tied in Khanqah-e-Moula is still there

but, you are nowhere, my love!

Your father, he died few days later

he lies peacefully in the martyrs graveyard

I talk to him, every friday

he doesn’t talk back

or maybe I am not able to hear him

amidst mourning and screaming

I asked him about you last night

since then, I have a smile on my face

he saw you among stars

you were the brightest..

More Links:

Aljazeera’s Account Of Two Boys who never made it back

The Missing By TELEGRAPH UK

 

Growing In Conflict Zones

THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN CONTRIBUTED BY KARIHA JAVAID

 

They make a desolation and call it peace.”- Agha Shahid Ali

Tranquility of the mind greatly relies on the physical environment one lives in. The mind already is filled with conflicts and turmoils and the war going outside only adds to the chaos.

So what runs through a kashmiri teenagers’ mind?

The fearful expression on their parents face on hearing the word “cordon” or “crackdown”, sounds of gunshots in the middle of the night, stinging eyes because of the teargas shell that exploded in the backyard, frisking, screaming, tears, guns and blood..

 

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Picture Credits : WithKashmir
It’s not easy growing in a conflict zone. It’s like walking in a minefield. Unpredictable and dangerous.

Every step you take, you have to be cautious. One minute you are enjoying the picturesque view on the banks of Jhelum and the next minute, it turns bloody.

In this dark rain, be faithful, Phantom heart, this is your pain, feel it, you must feel it. Nothing will remain, everything is finished”-Agha Shahid Ali

I remember when I was a kid, a sparrow used to sit on the window sill of our kitchen and my grandmother used to feed rice grains to it. Then suddenly it stopped coming. I wonder whether it abandoned its home or somebody has killed it. Whether it flew away or somebody tore off its wings.

And my memories will be a little out of focus, in it a giant negative, black and white, still undeveloped”. – Agha Shahid Ali

I was ten years old when I first saw bullets being fired. It’s not like what they show you in movies. In reality, the sounds are too loud. Too loud for our souls to bear.

I still don’t know what caused the firing. I never asked.

Her heart must be ash where her body lies burned. What hope lets your hand rake the cold in real time?” –Agha Shahid Ali.

Spending five months at home with curfewed streets and sinking hearts is hard. Listening to the news in the evening to know about the death toll is harder.

But we survived that. Didn’t we?

Violins weep for a time that doesn’t return

Violins weep for a homeland that might”-Agha Shahid Ali

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Growing up in a conflict zone is not easy. They say that your youth reflects your childhood. And if somebody paints our youth, I wonder how dark the canvas would turn.

But there is always hope. No matter how bleak the past is, the present still has that one ray of light. All we need to do is search for it and hold onto it.

Bursting with dawn, he now suddenly free, from air, from himself, his heart beating far, far behind him.”- Agha Shahid Ali

 

Written By : Kariha Javaid

Kariha Javaid is a student, she is a poet and spends some of her time writing poetry. She is an avid fan of Rumi.When told if she is a poet or a storyteller, her reply is very peculiar. I am not a writer nor a poet. just something in between, sometimes drowning in the poetry at other times soaring high with prose.

You can read her poetry at: Kariha Javaid’s Poetry

Uselessness Of Art In Kashmir

This comes after a well learned man put forward his thoughts very sublimely on a very popular daily namely GREATER KASHMIR. I had written the same things once but due to my ‘not being famous’ and ‘not being balanced’ and ‘not being a known name’ and ‘not having enough lines of achievements on my resume’ my article wasn’t published, that’s for another day. Going to the content which the person had very subtly penned down, it was about how sub standard literature our young fellows and even mature literary gods were producing and how the common masses and English knowing fellows were patting them on their backs for producing such vomit inducing content and being so cheerful and not even speaking a word of criticism just because they cant bring it on their lips that a fellow Kashmiri should be criticized for destroying literature with not just his mind gobbling words but also his non innovative ideas and bullshit structuring and also for molesting a beautiful language. Face and emotions sell in Kashmir. Try showing a beautiful hijab wearing girl on TV giving lectures on morality and people will stick to their TV’s like a person sticks to Kabba during hajj. Or, try showing a mini skirt wearing bold girl on TV giving lectures on modernity and people will stick to their TV’s like lust deprived beasts. Kashmiris are sold out by faces. Pragash was destroyed by a fatwa, and for the same so-called sin, Zaira Wasim was hailed as a hero. Why this selective outrage? Faces sell in Kashmir. Just because Pragash didnt make it to Grammy in first go made them worthless and just because Zaira managed to make her debut with Amir Khan made her an example for all Kashmiri girls to follow. You worthless brats, why didn’t you issue her a fatwa or a death threat? I still wish some unworthy molvi issues a fatwa against Zaira just to create a sense of equality. Now, you will be angry or surprised that my article started with literature and it is going to an entirely different galaxy. Wait, it’ll converge.

Few weeks back, a singer namely something like Roushan or Rohan, created yet another piece of shit and I’d have never wasted my time even looking at it but since it was a cover of my favorite composers’ wonderful symphony I couldn’t hold back. They had covered “I am a Pirate” by Hans Zimmer and being brutally honest it was the worst thing I have ever heard, leave alone disgracing Hans Zimmer they had disgraced music instruments including the rabab and stuff. Now, let us suppose I’d been entirely wrong in judging them but I do have my right to criticize and they have an obligation of listening to my rants, whether they like it or not. If they are offended, they should pack up their bags and get lost to another galaxy. What was even worse was when I posted my negative comment on their Youtube video I was shocked by the response I got from his fans , someone was like “at least they are making an effort, what are you doing?” I laughed, I am criticizing them you prick. And the others on his video were replying with those damn heart emojis, I couldn’t laugh less. Now back to the point, if you keep praising such stuff how do you expect them to grow? They might not be good singers, or maybe they might be. But, as a critic let me do my job. It is not every budding artist in Kashmir is a useless piece of shit. You have very systematic vloggers etc who are doing their job pretty fine. But, get over it some artists like Rouhan, some kaxur guy, Taha Naqash are just mere rookies.

 

Now, to the point when they turn to me and say “who the hell are you to judge me?”. Okay, you have got a right to ask me that question and I have got the right to do whatever I want as long as I am not offending you, which I am surely not.

Now, moving to the better part of the article. The POETS and the WRITERS. There was an event recently in Srinagar namely “qalam-e-qalab”, I was shocked to know when the organizer told me there were hardly any storytellers present there. I mean are you sure there is a literature event going on and you don’t have any damn storytellers there? The thing is fiction never had its roots in Kashmir, we have not even single mainstream writer who wrote fiction or the fiction he/she wrote made it big. Yeah, I’m trying my best to be the first and being honest, I am failing at it but whatsoever I have not left my line of work as such. However, when it comes to poetry, we have an infinite numbers of poets producing infinite trash everyday on Instagram pages and Facebook. Damn, there was this one girl on twitter who posted a poem

 

“Failure is the biggest terrorism”

Technically it wasn’t even a poem, I was shocked to know someone could even classify it as a poem, well she did. I wasn’t bothered about poetry but the idea behind the sentence and to clarify my point I asked her how failure was terrorism and by that logic the greatest entrepreneurs of world by now would have their own ISIS. Same old story, “who are you to judge my poems/ my followers can understand my poetry/ you cant understand poetry/ you have a small mind/ stop asking for attention/ I am what I am…. And some damn who-the-hell are you replies. And when I wanted to know the gibberish mind behind those words I was shocked to see it was not just one tart of useless poems but a lot of them. A two letter poem sometimes, a single word sometimes and the tragedy is she called it poetry.

Examples; 1.‘She cried again-The girl’

2. ‘Wept- eyes’

3. ‘i am the black sky- anxiety’

damn, how long are you not going to criticize this shit?

Okay. I am being harsh. But at least stop comparing them to Shakespeare, Frost, Whitman. I have my right not to read their poetry and you have the right to love their poetry but nobody in this world has given you the right to compare these shitty poets to the Frosts and Shakespeares. Royal Englishmen can attest to this.

There’s this another poet, he’s the same. The same two lines, one word poet. He has a knack for Rumi. he’s such a big fan of Rumi that all his poems have at least one manipulated sentence of Rumi in it. Come on, for how long shall we tolerate this?

But, they are famous. What is the reason? The same thing, the one I explained in the beginning. Face and emotions sell. This singer was once promoted by Javid Parsa and tab se iski life set, he knows even if he posts shit there will be hundreds to rub it onto their faces. Why? Kyun ki Javid bhai ka ashirwaad hai. Same goes for Taha Naqash. Ashirwad.

And for the poetry part, same old story. Faces sell. No more detailed explanations needed.

I am not against any of this. In fact I am very joyous over the growing interest of youth of Kashmir into writing, singing and stuff. But, there is always room for improvement, you may be pushed that you are insignificant as I already did in the above passages but its up to you. Prove me wrong, fight through these critical hurdles. Otherwise you might fall under your own rubble of egoism and you will just turn out to be another useless singer, writer. Criticism is not bad, make it your weapon, use it. Rouhan, even you know that ‘shape of song’ had too much of auto-tune. Its okay, who doesn’t use auto-tune but make sure it makes you feel like a Kashmiri artist not a brother of Ed Sheeran with so much overdone accent. Taha Naqash, you are awesome, but sir just a little bit of more effort and you can make me laugh. And the poetess, be open to criticism, you are not a good poet but you are a wordsmith try putting some logic and length into your poems so that they might make a bit of sense. I have nothing to say for fiction writers of Kashmir as there are none.

Finally, my every article, my every post in life will always be dedicated to Pragash, you are the real fighters. I don’t care how your music was, how many notes you missed during singing, but the best part is you were there fighting all biases and stereotypes. You lived through all this, who faced more criticism then you? But, nevertheless, shine. I wouldn’t have been a blogger if it wasn’t you. Power to you Pragash.