We are the state when the state fails
Two years ago, in the wee hours of seventh September, the valley woke up to the calm before the storm. The water had inundated large parts of the valley, Jhelum was racing like heartbeats before the climax of a horror film. Many areas next to the Jhelum had their lawns flooded.
As the dark skies refused to leave Kashmir, in the afternoon hours, the inevitable storm had hit the valley. The water swathed inside homes with people still inside them, the floods had taken a shape of a monster, a catastrophe would unfold in the days to come.
Days before the flood, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the chief cleric of Kashmir had announced for a public meeting to address the inundation of few areas of Srinagar and other rural areas. At the Mirwaiz Manzil, the hall was filled with scores of volunteers from the old city eager to listen and take up responsibility. A system was worked out, the tasks and jobs were divided among the volunteers.
When the catastrophe broke into the homes, the system in downtown Srinagar was ready with their home-made boats, a sense of engineering to save and rescue lives. With the sheer dint of their will, the volunteers came from the North to the South, from overseas to become the state. We were the state when the state failed.
Two years later, when the monster of bloodshed raged in the valley of Kashmir, the people knew that they can overcome this too. We are the state when the state fails, the people of Kashmir.
Within the first day itself, Soup Kitchens were established near the hospitals with supplies being tasked to neighborhoods nearby. The volunteers came all over the city, to donate their blood and some of them even stood their for months together.
The small-volunteer-based organisations networked with each other, to boost the hospital staff. From driving volunteer ambulances, to helping the injured, to supplying the patients with medicines. Such was the network that, no patient complained of having anything in short supply.
Some volunteers bore the brunt of the state violence, they were beaten up by the state forces. That couldn’t dint their spirit of humanity, as they continued to escape cordons and curfews, to reach to those in need.
Most of all, these volunteers became friends to the injured and their families. They comforted them, during the nights when the ambulance sirens kept echoing every second. Sometimes the injured would just be picked up from the spot, with no family, driven through the streets that wore the look of a war.
After four months of continuous services, despite the ‘veiled’ threats from the state to wind up their volunteer camps at the hospital, they continued. Until one day the authorities clamped down on these volunteers. 26 volunteers along with a dozen or so ambulances were detained.
The patients and attendants protested against this assault on the spirit of Kashmir’s humanity. The volunteers would still attend to their needs.
As the uprising switched another gear right before the winter, Kashmir reaffirmed the fact that their resilience will remain unscathed. Despite the demonizing, and dehumanizing campaigns run in the TV studios of New Delhi.
The next time a crisis occurs in Kashmir, the people will know that they will overcome this too. We, the people, are the state when the state fails,