“The stones in my hand speak a language that the world will understand one day.” These words of a young stone pelter in jail still ring in my ears. The story goes back twenty three years ago when I was quickly passed a chit by the chakkar munshi [head prisoner] and one that remains one of the most valued possessions of my professional career. I was coming out of the jail after finishing my days work on a winter afternoon. The chit written in Hindi on a crumpled piece of paper read as follows:
“Mujhe atyant krodh hai iss present anti national sarkar par. Iska saamna janmat tayaar karke aur hathon mein pathar lekar karna hai. Aap logon ke sansparsh mein aake lagta hai ki yeh kahin khatam na ho jaye. Bahut bechain hoon. Kya karoon, kripaya bataayen.”
Translated it read as:
“I am extremely angry with this present anti national government but it has to be faced it with public opinion by taking up stones in one’s hands. By coming in touch with you people, I feel that my ideas may go away. I am quite anxious. Please tell me what to do.”
The writer of this was a Kashmiri militant serving as an under trial. He told me he was son of a religious preacher and had started as a stone pelter after being mistaken by police for someone else.
He slowly built a trust in me to tell his story over many sessions.
What he said over those sessions helped me to understand how stone pelting began and developed into a cult status that it is today. Read about why the antagonist became a stone pelter in my novel ‘The infidel next door’.
An excerpt from my book:
“Good people are exploited on this earth.”
“Haji chacha tells me there is nothing called good and bad. It is only infidels versus us. I plan to teach the infidels a lesson.”
“What is teaching a lesson?”
“He told me a story. There was a boy in Palestine whose family was humiliated. In desperation, he picked up a stone and became a stone thrower. His stones would even stop tanks. He told me to become like that boy.”
“Do you know his end?”
“I don’t care, Abbu. He said when the hands of a child pick up a stone and throw it at the enemy after he takes the name of Allah, the stone becomes more lethal than a thousand bullets.”
“It is violence, beta. It maims and kills.”
“But Haji chacha said stone throwing is nonviolence. Each time we pick up a stone and throw it at the enemy, we tell them that we have a right over the land.”
“This is the strangest thing I ever heard. What else did he say?”
“Till Kashmir gets azaadi, we will continue our fight. By then we will become great warriors, and if we achieve martyrdom, we will go to Jannat.”60
“What do you understand by azaadi, Anwar?”
“Haji chacha told us that azaadi is when our land will be free of infidels. He told us he has a dream that one day my friends and I will throw so many stones that the sky of Kashmir will turn black.”