When 21-year-old Rifat Wani (name changed) arrived in Bengaluru from Srinagar in July to study management at a private university, she expected to have a regular college life. Instead, she was greeted by classmates who sometimes called her an ‘anti-national’, sometimes a ‘Pakistani’. But the worst was yet to come. On August 5, when the BJP government scrapped Article 370 of the Constitution, Rifat knew that doomsday was here.
It’s suffocating to be a Kashmiri outside Kashmir, but inside India, says Rifat. Kashmiris do not have the right to protest and express their views, especially after the article that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir was scrapped. Even a cosmopolitan city like Bengaluru started to feel stifling.
“Fellow students try to console us by saying that it is for our benefit and things will be fine with time. But do these people realise and understand what we want?” she asks in frustration.
A month has passed since with curfews, lockdowns and a communication shutdown forced on the state. Kashmiris have lost their voice in the Valley and outside the state. Wani thought that the initial communication shutdown in the first week of August was temporary and would last only a day or two. In happier times, she used to speak to her parents several times a day since it was her first time away from home. But she hasn’t been able to reach them for a month now.
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