Apart from the splendour of its landscape, the beauty of its freshwater lakes and Mughal gardens, its people’s hospitality and its Sufi culture of tolerance and transcendental spirituality, Kashmir is also known for its humour, satire and creativity. Through the years of oppression and suffering, Kashmiris have learned to laugh and poke fun at themselves and their perceived oppressors. In the new culture of resistance, hidden forms of expression are as relevant as the visible forms, displayed through slogans, graffiti, cartoons, music, protests, sit-ins, hunger strikes, candlelight vigils, and even stone pelting. How effective are the different forms of resistance? And what exactly constitutes creative forms of resistance?
As touched upon before, there is a widespread perception among the people that the narratives of India and Pakistan on Kashmir are written from hegemonic positions with monolithic projections that gloss over the realities and complexities of the conflict. These contentious perceptions have induced creative responses and endeavours, which go beyond prose, to investigate and study in order to challenge representations seen as ‘propagandist’ and ‘rhetorical’. That is why Kashmir has witnessed the emergence of new indigenous voices that not only offer fresh perspectives but also give us a sense of how Kashmiris have lived and experienced their conflict.
Cartoonists like Suhail H. Naqshbandi and Mir Suhail Qadri, rap artists like Mohammad Muneem and MC Kash, and musicians like Ali Saffudin are some of those who are employing creative forms to tell Kashmir’s story. Kashmir’s new literature of resistance cannot be brushed aside as merely a literature of propaganda or of protest. Rather, this new culture of writing and documentation offers an outlet to suppressed aspirations and an articulation of collective memories of pain and resilience. Kashmir’s award-winning artist and sculptor, Masood Hussain, came up with an artistic portrayal of the civilian uprising after Burhan Wani’s killing. He told Barkha Dutt on NDTV 24×7, in a programme aired on 18 August 2016, that he remained a silent spectator for a month, but once he saw pellet-hit children lying on hospital beds in distress and pain, something stirred within him. He saw the future of the young steeped in darkness and their dreams crushed.