From Babylon to Kashmir, the Good and the Evil speak the same language, the language of confusion
“When the descendants of Prophet Noah (AS) started increasing in number, pertinently the more united they would become and the bond that strengthened their unity was first based on their common language and then secondly a collective urge to build a city with a tower as high so that it may reach the heavens to show their ascendancy (over Lord) and subsequently represent a symbol that would keep them united and not to be scattered over the face of the earth. This displeased the Lord who said, “come and lets go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other so they could not work together on building the city and of course the tower. Eventually, the people got disbanded and scattered around the world and the city was abandoned. Babel is a Hebrew word for Babylon which means “Gate of the Lord” and also “to confound or confuse”. (Genesis 11:1-9)
The content analysis of this brief excerpt from the Book of Genesis reflects a lot of commonalities between the erstwhile Babylon and the modern day Kashmir. The people of Kashmir are unified with an urge to build a city, a political communion free from any foreign impurities but unlike Babylonians who sought to reach the heavens, the people of Kashmir already own the paradise (as said by the famous Farsi poet Ameer Khusro). The biggest dichotomy between the two though is the Babylonians were confronting the Lord and the people of Kashmir are resisting the evil. The evil cannot play the language card (just like the Lord did in Babylon) to divide the people because the people of Kashmir already speak so many languages. Having failed in the past, the evil this time around sows seeds of confusion in a different way, much more diabolical, trying to shake one of the strongest foundations of Kashmir, its women folk. Call her the 16th century poetic genius of Habba Khatoon or the present day Iron Lady of Kashmir, Parveena Ahanger or an un-blossomed flower of resilience, Insha Malik (just few drops from a bottomless Ocean of eternity) the women of Kashmir have always been an inseparable part of Kashmiriyat and its political depth. Lord succeeded in untying the strong bond of the Babylonians, but the desperate evil is simply delaying inevitability, i.e. failure. The design of confusion emulated by the evil to weaken the bond of Kashmiriyat this time around is cutting the hair of women, a tactic used by enemy as a mean of psychological warfare not only to humiliate Kashmiriyat but also to dehumanize the collective cognitive behavior.
In a predominantly orthodox society like Kashmir, social acceptability of certain sensitive clichés and stigma is still a thorn in the flesh primarily if it comes to females, and braid cutting of women has scrupulously exploited this weak link. Cutting hair is not only an attack on the honor and dignity of women in Kashmir but also an attack on the Kashmiriyat itself, such is the inseparable nature of Kashmir and its women folk. Imagine the plight of a women or a girl who is the victim of braid cutting, when she regains her consciousness after being sprayed upon or powdered upon, seeing a part of her hair cut separate is no doubt a massive shock, add to that the post traumatic aftershocks. But the most disturbing catastrophe that follows this series of traumas is unfortunately least talked about, was I sexually molested while I was unconscious? An ambiguous thought that has a significant potential to haunt the victim for the rest of her life. Even if there was no such case of sexual molestation during her unconsciousness (which looks like the case from a rationalistic perspective) but such is the nature of this trauma that most if not all victims of braid cutting might live with this uncertain encumbrance for a long period of time. The retention of this uncertain cognitive (be it in the conscious or the subconscious) might lead to a vicious cycle of negative thoughts, negative feelings and finally negative behavior and who knows the cycle might never stop. Problem is medical intervention to examine this state of uncertainty about the sexual molestation or not is again inordinately attached with social stigma (at least from the frame of reference of the victim if not how society looks at it) and for most victims, medical intervention might turn out to be the last resort since in such kind of traumatic imbalance, it is the negative emotions that get better of the logic.
The diversification of discourses and understanding of braid cutting expectedly is mutli-narrated as described by different sections of the society which makes perfect sense especially in a volatile place like Kashmir where the stakes of political opportunism are ridiculously high. For example, Some psychologists/psychiatrists (very surprisingly) call it mass hysteria, “an en’masse psychological or behavioral transmission of collective illusions and hallucinations by a large section of populace as a result of stress, rumors or fear or simply to attract attention and most ridiculously described in the form of a synaptic transmission across the borders from india to Kashmir” (since braid cutting first started in india). Million dollar question if the whole development is a mass hysteria, then who cuts the braids? Is it the women themselves? Why would they turn themselves unconscious first? If it were a mass hysteria, different victims won’t ever narrate the same story, i.e, a guy or two come from behind, spray or throw some powder on them and then…. In continuation to this very poor medical hypothesis, then the part played by the people, first, to see the culprit and then chase him away is another synchronized phase of this mass hysteria as if they are chasing some imaginary entity which emerged from the hypothetic manifestations of the victim in the first place. Third phase of this mass hysteria is even more ridiculous, when the people chasing the imaginary culprit are about to catch him or even actually catch him (which happened in few cases), the military or police intervention begins, they shoot few gunshots to disperse the mob chasing an imagination and surprisingly the police/army complete the third phase of the whole series of mass hysteria, which makes them an inevitable entourage to this whole hysterical adventurism. Believe me this tripartite hysterical sequel of the whole plot would entice the legendary Christopher Nolan, whose concept of Dream within Dream within Dream would be replaced by Hysteria within Hysteria within Hysteria and on and on and on…. In the discipline of Abnormal Psychology (or even in very general terms) every behavioral response is caused by a psychological stimulus, and if this mass hysteria is a behavioral response then where lies the stimulus? The answer is continuous exposure to violence, anxiety, stress, but if lines are to be drawn between this year (when the hair cutting started as late as September, 2017) and 2016 (one of the most violent years in the history of Kashmir), which year is/was more violent, more stressful, more volatile, the question stays auto-answered. One more question, if it is believed that non-tangible neurological transmission of events from india to Kashmir is the cause of this mass hysteria, how on earth would a girl or a woman from a remote south Kashmir suffer this abnormal behavior when it is sure that she won’t read or follow the news of braid cutting in india. This neurological synaptic transmission of hysteria needs a medium for conveyance from india to a remote village of South Kashmir, what is the medium? Is the medium encoded in the ignorance of the agrarian women from south Kashmir or is it the holy smell from the soil of the paddy plants where the women spend their most of time.
To be concluded