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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 42 New Delhi October 6, 2018

Under Yogi UP turning into another Kashmir!

Sunday 7 October 2018, by Humra Quraishi

MUSINGS

During his election campaigns Yogi Adityanath’s speeches carried a particular one- liner, along the strain that under Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Government the State of Uttar Pradesh was turning into another Kashmir!

In fact, it’s today, under the chief ministership of the BJP’s Yogi Adityanath, that one can see strong traces of Kashmir in Uttar Pradesh! Last week’s encounter killings in Aligarh where two young men were shot dead by the State police force and then Apple executive’s killing in Lucknow by a defiant cop, more than reminded me of the killings of civilians taking place on a daily basis in the Kashmir Valley. Yes, anybody can be gunned down under any possible pretext and the killers declared ‘unknown’ or else ‘un- identified’.

Where encounters are concerned, the Yogi sarkar has gone blatantly far ahead of Kashmir. Quoting these figures from the PUCL findings on encounters taking place in Uttar Pradesh: Since March 2017, in over 1100 encounters, 49 people have been killed, more than 370 have been injured and over 3300 arrested across the State...In fact, I had first heard the term ‘encounter killings’ in Srinagar, but today I’m hearing horrifying details of State terrorism from the people of Uttar Pradesh.

Mind you, those not gunned down by the State machinery are lynched by the well-trained and well-nurtured goons working full time or overtime or round-the-clock for the political rulers. And it’s the same fear and apprehension I have been spotting in the eyes of the Kashmiris that I have begun to notice on the faces of the young in Uttar Pradesh; sitting not just jobless, but in fear of the goon brigades—the so-called senas that the political mafia has raised, to hound and spread around terror.

If the Kashmir Valley has a long list of the ‘missing men’ than the State of Uttar Pradesh has families who hide their young children and women from the mafia spreading out in the mufassil towns and qasbas of the State. In fact, there are cases of disappearances, forced marriages and serious kidnapping charges against several of the political who’s who of the State, but then who can arrest the rulers of the day!

There is a systematic destruction and denting of the entire governance system which is affecting not just everyday life but even historic structures. The world famous Taj Mahal has an ever increasing monkey population wrecking the very the very charm to the place. Confirmed sources state that in the last few months visitors and tourists have been attacked and bitten by monkeys. Not to overlook stray dogs loitering in and around the complex. In fact, here too lies a similarity: after all, with stray dogs around in large numbers, it gets risky to walk down the roads of Srinagar.... And if one is driving or is being driven in and around the Kashmir Valley, two aspects have to be kept in mind—never overtake an Army jeep or convoy and brake rather too immediately if the cops order halt. There are news reports of drivers humiliated, if not hit, by cops if they dared to overtake any of the Army or police vehicles. No sawaal of questions or counter-questions with the cops, otherwise one could get killed, like the Apple executive was gunned down last week in Lucknow.

What if he wasn’t an executive with a reputed international company? Instead, an auto-driver or a rickshaw puller. Then, what! Then one of the terrorist or anti-national tags would have been pinned on the victim and with that the very closure of the case! Perhaps, the cop-killers even awarded or rewarded for the killings.

Well, this is the reality of the day. People of Uttar Pradesh are fed up. One gets to hear this one-liner—Azaadi from Yogi Adityanath and his government before we are gunned down or kidnapped by his men!

No Writer, Poet, Academic from Pakistan given Visa for South Asian Literature Festival 

The festival is to be held in New Delhi, from October 4 ...

As president of FOSWAL (the Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature), Ajeet Cour has been organising the SAARC writers meets in different cities of the country, where writers, academics and poets from all the SAARC countries are invited and interact with their Indian counterparts.

On two occasions that I’d attended the Ajeet Cour-organised SAARC writers meet held at Agra, it was good to see writers from the SAARC countries interact with each other and read aloud their works ...warm, interactive meets.

But for this upcoming four-day meet—to be held in New Delhi from October 4—the invite does not mention any writer or poet or academic from Pakistan. In fact, confirmed reports state that visas were not issued by the Government of India (GOI ) to any delegate from Pakistan to attend this meet here. And with that the very name of the meet changed from the Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (FOSWAL) to South Asian Literature Festival.

Yes, this is what happens when the Right-wing government comes centre-stage. Intrusions into the very arts and literature of this sub-continent, obstacles in the way in the very people-to-people connect, barriers in the way to even hear verse or prose of those living across the borders.

Today’s politicians can fly across to coo birthday greetings to their counterparts but not the common man! Double standards and barbed wires and barricades all the way!

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