Story of a Date


On 27 October, 2013, we must go six decades back and start counting from there.

Kashmir Black Day

Often among friends, when a discussion moves towards finding a date to the valley’s long-standing conflict – which has scoured our landscape and hollowed our lives, there is no hesitation in picking 27 October 1947 as the day when it all began.

The significance of the date cannot be gleaned without a look into how this date plays out in the memory and the struggle of the Kashmiris. For one, the date brings to the fore the accursed memory of the moment when the Indian Army landed in Kashmir, thus starting an era of occupation and repression which is still very much in place. For another, the date saw Kashmir partitioned – a blood-driven LoC dividing a people into two.

Any serious engagement with Kashmir’s political turmoil is not possible without arresting 27 October as a watershed moment, opening the floodgates of oppression and brutality. On this day, India stamped its feet on Kashmir, and till now, is seen justifying the act without a word about the promises it flouted. The military apparatus in Kashmir celebrates the day as one of ‘liberation’ and ‘freedom’, when the Indian Army heroically wrested Kashmir from going into Pakistan’s hand. The State and the Army conducts ceremonial functions every year on this day, while the whole valley remains shut. For the common Kashmiris, the commemoration takes place in the form of a Black Day.

In history, we encounter certain dates in the memory of nations which are a way of celebrating its spirit and uniqueness. For Kashmir, the dates are a way of mourning its fate – be it 14 March 1847, 31 July 1931 or 27 October 1947.

27 October in Kashmir is not a single day. It is a whole history, a beginning of a loss. It is a day which manifests its sinister bearings throughout the sixty-seven years of Indian rule. It is a day which refuses to end. In a word, the struggle of the Kashmiris is for putting an end to this day and starting a new era of freedom.

The various manifestations of 27 October 1947 are visible in countless atrocities the Indian Army has committed against innocent Kashmiris. Gaw Kadal Massacre, Chotta Bazar Massacre, or Kunan Poshpora Tragedy are events which freshen up the memory of the date and strengthen the resolve to fight. These are collective tragedies in Kashmir and all of them point to the impunity the Indian Army enjoys in the valley with laws like AFSPA protecting it from any repercussions.

The presence of Indian troopers on the Kashmiri soil carries a particular trauma for a Kashmiri. It is a sight that makes one behold in silence the unimaginable atrocities committed by these men on our land. And when public expressions of anger take a mass form (as in 2008, 2009 and 2010), it is no surprise that pitched stone battles are fought with these men, who in reply shoot hundreds of men dead – giving people more reasons to fight. It is a battle between a bullet and the memory of a bullet. The memory of a bullet takes one to the day when the first jackboots stomped in the valley – 27 October, 1947.
The date is etched onto the minds and consciousness of the people as a day when a cataclysmic misfortune befell the valley. ‘Agar nai Satteajiyyas yiiha balai (If ’47 wasn’t accursed)’ goes the common lament. While in the last six decades, especially in the last two, Kashmir has seen its society being torn apart by a politics which refuses to address the genesis of it all – it is 27 October which apportions much of the blame.

As a black day, signifying a collective state of mourning; of the loss of beauty and innocence – each year, 27 October becomes a crystallization of everything that is wrong in Kashmir. People are shut behind doors and streets are manned at both the ends by troopers, as if heroism was in keeping people under lock and key. In this way, 27 October resembles 15 August and 26 January, as a time when a State’s celebration of itself involves restricting people to their homes and putting barricades to their movement. Interestingly, all the three dates present the perfect window into the reality of the present day Kashmir. When the rest of India wakes to the chorus of freedom songs on the Independence Day, Kashmir braces itself for yet another curfew; and the same is the story on India’s Republic Day. On 27 October, the play between the State’s celebration of the day and the mourning among the people can be seen as the battle of memory. The Indian State’s hyper-nationalism gives 27 October a vaunted status, but the Kashmiri people remember it as a dark day that subjected them to another foreign occupation. And ever since that day, everything in Kashmir is subject to a war of memory and appropriation. The State wants to remember 27 October as a Liberation Day, but the people remember it as it is – a day when Kashmir lost its independence.

With each killing, torture or disappearance in Kashmir, the memory of 27 October is invoked. When Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society published its heart-breaking report on the deaths, disappearances and rapes in Jammu and Kashmir, it was titled ‘Alleged Perpetrators’.

The stories of impunity in the report reveal a terrifying picture of unaccounted brutality, meted out to the people by several machetes of the military regime in Kashmir. The suffocating presence of the Indian troops (10 Indian soldiers to every Kashmiri) makes it all the more appropriate to remember 27 October. As we know, the airlift of the Indian Army into Kashmir was on the pretext of a promise; to hold a plebiscite. However, with each passing year, the Army’s intentions of staying becomes clear. They had not come to rescue Kashmir; they had come to occupy it. None know this better than the occupied Kashmiris who saw and suffered terribly under its imposition.

Kashmir’s struggle today is of seeking to establish the current status of Jammu and Kashmir as one of deceit and treachery. And 27 October is the date where the redressal should begin. All the efforts to move towards a solution must begin at this day and traverse the path the day took; which, of course, should take account of thousands of lives the machinery took and return justice. On 27 October, 2013, we must go six decades back and start counting from there.

is a journalist based in IOK and can be reached at

Discussion1 Comment

  1. Kashmir indeed must be a sad place to be where its writers hypocritically hide their heart felt allegiance to the idea of pakistan through repudiation of every decent principal on which kashmir’s aeons old connection with india is based.

    Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who accquised in the accession of kashmir and the airlift of indian army soldiers on behalf of kashmir remained its most popular leader till his death in 1982. he was always hated by pakistan for not accepting the two nation theory. for some people of kashmir to now revert and repudiate the understanding and politics of its most esteemed leader is nothing less than backstabbing and renegading upon the norms of civilised society that kashmir once was.

    Should Hitler have been allowed to win the elections because all his people believed in him, when in hindsight we know how those beliefs destroyed the world? Should Russian Bolshevik revolution, The Chinese Maoist revolution and the Iranian revolution be lauded for turning the prevailing systems upside down or condemned for destroying lives of millions of innocents who did not side with the dominant beliefs? Should Kashmir be pitied or praised for resilience, for not giving up? Should Kashmir be saved or let go? Should Kashmir be for Kashmiris or for the rest of the world as well as it is for Kashmiris who live outside Kashmir?

    It is not false propaganda or rewriting of history that will solve the conundrum of kashmir but honest self introspection. Thank you.

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