It's been a week of communication blackout in Jammu and Kashmir. The roads are filled with barricades and military personnel. There's a strict curfew in place.
Meanwhile, students from Kashmir, who live away from home, are unable to contact their families. On Eid too, they will not be able to call their home.
It doesn’t feel like Eid. There are no messages from home, no calls. There is nothing Mubarak about today. In case you forgot, there are Kashmiris still unable to contact their families in Kashmir. I’m one of them. My last conversation with them was on Aug 4th. — Maroosha Muzaffar (@Maroosha_M) August 12, 2019
On August 5th, Amit Shah moved in the parliament to dilute Article 370, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and Article 35A, which allowed permanent residents of J&K exclusive rights over land and jobs. The state would now be a Union Territory. He also announced the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two halves - Jammu and Kashmir, which would have a legislature, and Ladakh, which would not have a legislature.
Amidst the curfew and the missing phone calls, a group of students from Kashmir are holding a 'celebration' in Delhi, on the occasion of Eid. Organized by a group of students who are unable to get in touch with their families back home, and unable to return to Kashmir, the 'celebration' is actually a public gathering to share food, and stories about Kashmir. While it may not be placards and banners and chants, the point remains the same: protest.
"I want to go home, but I can't," says Sharika Amin, one of the organizers. Sharika, who hails from Anantnag, is a student in Delhi, and was preparing to go home when the military escalated and before she knew whether to return, the state was plunged into silence. Most of the students have had little or no communication with their family.
While a few phone lines have opened up, and helpline numbers are being circulated, they are far too few to cover an entire state. For a lot of people, it isn't possible for their families to reach the point of access for a phone and make a call to their children. Curfews and road blockades and little information about where these lines are, add to the problem.
The students have organized a 'public gathering,' at Jantar Mantar and acquired police permission for the event. The idea of gathering for Eid isn't just to share food and hold a celebration of people who are forced to be away but also to share the sense of community.
Back home, Eid is a huge festival with the idea of food tied intrinsically to it - of people sharing meals. The Eid in Delhi tries to be a much smaller, much-diluted version of that. "The idea is to not just share our little food, but also memories," says Sharika.
The point of the gathering is to bring about a sense of community, she adds, "because of late, it feels like everybody else has deserted us."
Posters for the event are being circulated on social media, and more people are showing their solidarity by RSVP-ing for the gathering. The event is scheduled for 1:30 PM at Jantar Mantar on August 12th. 'Eid away from home,' one of the poster reads.
Sharika, along with another student, Faiq Faizan, who also hails from Kashmir, are the organizers of the event, and point of contact for people to go to.
Spread the word! Share with your friends... A group of young Kashmiri students have managed to take permission from Delhi Police to 'observe' Eid festivities at Jantar Mantar tomorrow. It wasn't easy to get the permission, they say. I asked them if they needed any help in organising the food. "Just bring anything actually, it doesn't matter. Ammi, Abbu used to organise all that. Our job was to eat" they say it with a smile that quickly changed into gloom. They haven't spoken to their parents since August 4. Tomorrow is Eid. It won't be happy for us till they are happy. I will be getting some food in a box and will be joining them for Eid 'celebrations' at Jantar Mantar at 1.30 PM (Monday). What are your Eid plans? #eid #kashmir #eidawayfromhome #puranidilliwaley A post shared by Purani Dilli Walo Ki Baatein™ (@puranidilliwaley) onView this post on Instagram