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Of ‘baseless’ rumours and proven fears: Kashmir breathes in paranoia

Srinagar, Feb 24: Since Friday evening, Kashmir has come to resemble a pressure cooker. Rumours and concerns, not all of them baseless, continue to fuel the paranoia among the valleyites.

People of the valley simply don’t know what is in store, and the uncertainty is psychologically killing them with one paper cut after other.

 

Every day official decrees asking armed forces to be ready, or essential commodities including food and medicines to be stocked, get shared on social media, wriggling their way into the minds of people.

The air reeks of uncertainty as everyone tries to guess the climax of the events that have been set in motion.

On Sunday morning, a local baker’s shop in Chanapora had become a confluence of speculations which were flying back and forth over the smoke emanating from the oven.

While elderly were bothered by the government-claimed shortage of essentials including fuel, youngsters were more anxious about the internet clampdown.

Waiting for his turn to get the bread, a middle-aged man, Asadullah Malik, best summarised the dilemma: “Modi, kale ha phot, waen wan ta kyah chui karun (Oh Modi, my head will burst, for God’s sake! Reveal your plans!)”

Malik’s ‘head burst’ reference was to a meme made out of recently viral video where a jilted lover laments his exasperation to his friend.

Another college student, Ahmad (name changed) present at the shop threw his arms in despair.

“I scarcely slept last night because of the rumours and there are more sleepless nights waiting ahead. Few days back, we were shaken awake by loud knocking on the door. Five masked policemen inquired of my cousin brother and whisked him away in a vehicle to the Chanapora police station,” he said.

Ahmad said around eight boys from his Mohalla have been detained by the police so far.

A milkman, Mohammad Shafi, who lives in Nowgam and has to take the Highway route to reach Chanapora, too expressed his fear.

“I live in a joint family of nine. Believe me, eight members are already traumatised by the ongoing events. My wife was reluctant to let me leave home in the morning with the milk containers. She fears that the armed troopers might thrash me on the way,” he said.

Shafi spoke of another issue that many others in valley are concerned about­ – the lack of medicines.

“I had to buy additional medicines for my old father last night. He suffers from renal failure and is subjected to dialysis every month. I am worried if the situation remains the same, what will happen to him?” Shafi said.

One newspaper vendor, Abdul Aziz had been pedaling on his bicycle since the break of the dawn and due to fretfulness had botched up while delivering papers to his customers.

“I had dropped Times of India instead of Indian Express in several households following which I got calls from several customers asking for replacement. This happened out of nervousness and anxiety.  The war rumours make me shiver. I don’t know when and where the soldiers will stop and thrash me for selling news.”

Suffering from dual anxiety of having to hide his identity and suddenly facing the prospect of not being able to contact family back home is what troubles Azaan (name changed) who studies in Delhi.

“It’s torturous to think of the circumstances back home. Yesterday, I heard that the mobile networks will be not be working anymore which left me panic stricken. I called up my mother and asked her to get the suspended landline connection restored,” Azaan said over the phone.

“I dream of a city up in high flames. The tragedy is that I can’t even share my thoughts with anyone. Who knows when I will be beaten to death for revealing my identity?” he rued.