Spectacle of Indian National Project

Ather Zia

Why Afzal was killed in custody without even a patina of a fair trial? Why did India, which masquerades as a democracy in Kashmir, give in to a ‘murderous’ due process? I will not go into the nitty-gritty of the case which was cooked to kill Afzal. I do not want to repeat the mechanics of a passive judiciary which kowtows before the feudatory anarchy packaged as “the largest democracy”. Although not enough, but we are aware of the concoction of lies, the circumstantial evidence, inferences, the amalgam of renegades, police officers, and coercion that brewed the Parliament attack conspiracy of which Afzal became the most unfortunate and lasting part.
Afzal’s killing can only be understood within the context of phantasmal confabulation of Indian nationalism, the weary imagery of Bharat that we have been pummeled with since 1947. Afzal’s death is a repetition, albeit on a national level, of the unique inscription codified on Kashmiri bodies that has only one message: submit to India. Afzal’s killing brings to fore the sacrificial aspects of the Kashmiri body which has become as mandatory as the Hindu ritual of coconut-smashing to appease the nationalistic gods of India, be it when the elections are near or when the fine bone of Pakistan gets stuck in India’s chest.
Afzal’s killing and burial was done in utter secrecy. This secrecy, more than mystifying, is telling. In making the punishment so visible and the body hidden what does the state of India hide and reveal to Kashmiris (and its own masses)? In this act a fine inscription of death, the Indian policy on Kashmir becomes as evident as the day. Omar Abdullah would like to naively and in utter hilarity ask us to believe that the manner of Afzal’s death and burial was to maintain the rule of law, and order (which in itself is telling, that we will go berserk if they tell us).
Yeah, right we got it Omar; the question being why was it even done in the first place. It is quite glaring how the sentiments of Indians “baying for Kashmiri blood” take precedence over law when it comes to Kashmir. And this urbane-yokel, Omar Abdullah had the temerity to tell us that Afzal’s death should not be made political because law is above sentiments. It is in utter contrast to what Indian state has submitted to; Afzal was killed to satiate the Indian sentiment which saw him as pivotal in the attack on the heart of democracy that India imagines itself to be. While the sentiments of Indians are satiated, the grief of Kashmiris over Afzal’s killing is sealed shut under a stringent curfew. A siege has been affected in Kashmir. So far three Kashmiris died in the protests that took place despite the curfew.

This piece first appeared in February 2013 in Kashmir Reader.

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About AtherZia

Ather Zia is a political anthropologist working on militarization, gender and Kashmir. Currently she is a faculty at the Anthropology and Gender studies program at the University of Northern Colorado Greeley. She is also a poet, writes short fiction and is the founder-editor of Kashmir Lit at www.kashmirlit.org.

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