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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 40 New Delhi September 24, 2016

Id in Kashmir, Problem of Survival in Mewat

Saturday 24 September 2016, by Humra Quraishi

MUSINGS

Perhaps, for the first time in the recent history of Kashmir, curfew was imposed in the Kashmir Valley on Id. To compound the situation, connectivity snapped, if it was not hugely disrupted. The masses in the Valley cannot get over the latest round of trauma. Openly voicing their disgust, ‘Never before this sort of clampdown. Sitting caged on Id morning. No namaaz at the Jami Masjid nor at the Hazratbal or any of the big mosques of the city...you can’t imagine how upsetting it gets for us, for our children. Surviving in this depressing mahaul, with killings continuing...’

Yes, it was traumatic for the Kashmiris to be sitting under the ongoing curfew even on Id day; most not even in a position to convey Id greetings as mobile and internet services were snapped. No sawaal of visiting friends’ or relatives’ homes or even the graveyards. Caged they’d sat yet another day of the ongoing curfew. What next? Nobody seems to know what lies ahead as autumn nears, bringing along with it not the usual long list of winter woes but also an added dimension—in these last several weeks of the ongoing curfew the average Kashmiri family has consumed rice and dried vegetables stored in home kitchens. What happens as winter sets in? What would happen on the bleak financial front? Not to overlook the fact that in the last two months business and tourism have been reduced to almost nil.

Grim Situation In Haryana’s Mewat

And getting across to Haryana’s Mewat region— a Muslim populated region, which has remained backward because of political reasons. In those earlier decades Meos of Mewat were one of the first to have revolted against the British and so the then Raj rulers revenged, kept the region cut- off from any development plans. No improvement in their condition even after the Partition—this, when Meos did not cross over to Pakistan and had opted to stay back in their home country. And no improvement in their condition all through these years; on the contrary, worsening with the Right-wing’s agenda to keep Muslims well-under deprivation levels.

I have travelled to the Mewat region several times—in fact, it’s barely 35 to 40 kilometres from the Capital city—and each time I have returned devastated. Its eighteenth century survival for the majority of Muslims of that belt. Grim reports on the health and socio-economic conditions, yet no apparent plans to reach out. On the contrary, police brutalities have been unleashed on them. Cops arresting-cum-detaining them on every possible pretext. The latest, of course, is on the beef pretext.

Young Meo teenagers who have set-up roadside eateries along the highway, selling home made biryani, are not just harassed but detained and arrested by cops, on mere suspicion of selling beef biryani!

The scare of the State machinery has reached alarming levels. Pushed to the wall (jail walls!) Meos of Mewat are in a state of dilemma as daily survival gets extremely difficult. for them.