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Rhythm-A-Day Blog for February 5, 2020: Kashmir Day

Posted by Wolf Murphy on

Kashmir Day

Kashmir Day is observed to show support for the Kashmiris living in occupied Kashmir. It is celebrated all throughout Pakistan as well as Pakistan continues to show support for the embattled Kashmiris living in Indian-Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

Kashmir has had a troubled history. After Pakistan and India achieved freedom from British rule and were established as separate countries in 1947, both claimed ownership of Kashmir. Currently, Kashmir is divided into regions controlled by India (Jammu and Kashmir), Pakistan (Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan regions), and China (Aksai Chin).

National/Regional flags from Kashmir region, clockwise from top left:
  • Flag of Jammu and Kashmir (IOC)
  • Flag of Azad Kashmir (Pakistan)
  • 'Aksai Chin' in Chinese Script representing Aksai Chin (China)
  • Gilgit-Baltistan (Pakistan) (Wikimedia Commons)

The conflict in IOK has been going on for more than 70 years and has resulted in the deaths of tens or hundreds of thousands. Currently, Indian forces occupy Kashmir, inflicting brutality on its  citizens. The situation escalated in 2019, as prime minister Narendra Modi revoked Kashmir’s autonomy on August 5th, and also split the state into two  territories that will be governed by New Delhi. Mr Modi’s Hindu nationalist government has deployed more than 70,000 additional paramilitaries in what was already one of the world’s most militarised regions and cut all telephone, mobile and internet connections across Kashmir.

Thousands of Kashmiri politicians, civil society leaders, and human rights activists were arrested and all are still incarcerated.

Graffiti demanding a free Kashmir. (Wikimedia Commons)

 Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan's Minister for Information and Broadcasting, has said:

“It is not possible for Pakistan to ignore atrocities being committed in occupied Kashmir by the subjugating forces . . . When blood bleeds in IOK, our soul feels its pain as we are bound with them in a relation of humanity.” 

Several things complicate this situation. One is that the majority religion in the IOK is Muslim, not Hindu. Another is that controlling Kashmir means profiting from its resources, so there is financial motivation for India to refuse the Kashmiri desire for freedom and continue to war against the Kashmiri Nationalists.

A drum tradition that is fading in Kashmir is that of the Seher Khan. This is the Kashmiri name for drummers who act as human alarms for the faithful, to wake them and help them keep their fast during the holy month of Ramzan. But Indian army personnel have begun stopping and questioning the Seher Khans while they are traveling to perform their work, beating them to discourage them. 

Here are some traditional phrases the Seher Khans play to awaken the faithful:


Today's Video Lesson

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