An erstwhile Kashmiri friend informs me that Kashmir is now free. According to him, most of the CRPF troops have been removed from Kashmir, Kashmir is free of interference from Pakistan, & in the near future will be free from ‘useless bloggers’ like myself ‘who always put things out of context’. He said he doesn’t want Kashmir to be another Syria just to give people like me a chance to be uselessly busy day & night on social media & suggests I do some good in my life instead.

Have all the troops been withdrawn from Kashmir or just the CRPF troops? Have the thousands of political prisoners been released & are the child political prisoners all accounted for & back home with their families? How has India addressed the torture & trauma sustained by those children? Has India accounted for the nearly 10,000 forcibly disappeared? Have they identified the remains of Kashmiris in hundreds of mass graves? Have they stopped the use of pellet munitions against unarmed protesters? Have they done anything to address the issue of pellet victims unable to get medical treatment for their injuries or for those unable to get medical care under the siege? Have they had a tribunal on the Indian Army’s use of mass rape & all its other human rights crimes? Have they restored telecommunications & compensated Kashmiris for the billions lost in commerce? Because if any of the conditions of the occupation in ‘now free Kashmir’ prevail, this ‘useless blogger’ ain’t going nowhere whether that hapless Kashmiri likes it or not.

You don’t last long in politics if you’re thin-skinned about criticism but for the record I’d like to know when he thought my writing about Kashmir went from campaigning for Kashmiri rights to ‘useless blogging’? Or did he think it was always useless? Activists like me–& we are legion–don’t have some peculiar need to wallow in human suffering; we don’t write about oppression because we get something out of it. We do it because we’re committed to human rights & hate inequality & injustice & because we believe in the human race. To sound schmaltzy, we love the human race & want the best for all of us. It is not the most tranquil commitment in life; it isn’t even particularly rewarding if you don’t have academic credentials. We do it because other human beings are suffering, we identify with them & cannot live with that knowledge without doing something about it. If my erstwhile friend doesn’t like that, he can lump it. Amen.