Updated: Apr 24, 2021
The author pens his life changing experience. He is Emraan Nazir from Chewa, a small village in district Bandipore. He is a teacher for past fifteen years in a government middle school in his village.
I am a Kashmiri, but before that I am a proud Indian.
This is what I have been teaching my students since fifteen years. Someone reading this might think why a teacher needs to teach his/her students to be proud of their country?
This is because Kashmir is place unlike any other place in India. Environment is filled with false propaganda against our country. There are people who are misleading youth and kids in the name of religion. Thus, it is the duty of parents and also the teachers to present a true picture of reality in front of these children.
My childhood was also filled with this false promulgation of ideas against India. I was in my teens in 2001, even I was swayed by this façade. By the time I understood the meaning of country and state, many propagandists people around announced that India is an unjust country and Indian Army is occupying and enslaving Kashmiris. So I also joined the so called protestors, who used to give us INR 100 for pelting stones at Indian Army soldiers and infrastructure. I felt I was doing the right thing and besides, earning pocket money in name of patriotism is never bad !
One Such Protest
My life changed during one such protest. By now a routine, we were given money and stones for pelting on the Army. That day Army was larger in numbers, so they chased the stone pelting crowd away. When people were running away I was caught in between the stampede. I fell down and got injured. Everyone else ran away leaving me behind. Two Army men caught me, fearing I would be thrashed and given to police and would be put in jail, I started crying. These Army men picked me up and took me to someone they referred to as saab. I could not figure out who he was but thought he is the individual who would send me to jail. He looked at me and smiled, I was confused. In a very genuine and caring tone he asked my name and asked me if I was injured. I hinted at my swollen and sprained ankle. He immediately passed orders and another Army man came to attend to me, he gave me ointment, medicine for pain and bandaged my ankle. I was shocked to see the people on whom I used to thrown stones attending to my wound. I could not say anything because I still feared they would send me to jail after giving me first aid. To my utter disbelief after my ankle was bandaged I was let go. I slowly started limping away. Seeing me limp the Army Saab passed some orders and soon an Army veh came from behind and they gave me lift to my home.
When I reached home my father gave me the scolding of my life and told me to be thankful to Allah that I was not in jail. I recovered in few days, but my curiosity was not letting me be in peace as to why I was not beaten or not in jail? Why the occupying Army had treated me with love and care? I mustered some courage and went to the Army Camp along with my father to thank the Army Saab. We were made to sit with respect and offered tea and snacks.
When I met the Army Saab, I came to know that he is a Major rank officer who is the company commander. We chatted for a long time. He opened my eyes and changed my outlook towards Army and the situation in Kashmir. That day after coming back home I decided I have to do something to protect the youth and kids like me from going on the wrong path.
I completed B Ed and became a teacher in Govt School in my village. I always narrate my own experiences to my students and repeat "Kashmir and India is one and the same and we should always be a proud Indian first."