During the summer of 2000, I met Yasin Malik in the small studio of his home in Srinagar. He was 32 years old and then as president of the Jammu and Kashmir front of liberation, the biggest face of Kashmir separatism. And it was a face that made many Indians uncomfortable because it had been grotesquely disfigured by the torture at the hands of the authorities. While we were sitting on the carpet, I noticed a small shelf behind him, and a collection of works by Mahatma Gandhi. It was not what I expected to see in the house of a former militant who, in his conversation with me, defended the violence of Kashmiri mujahideen.
When I asked him if he had read the books, he opened the glass door to the library and there was a good volume. “Of course,” he said. “He was a great revolutionary.” But how, he asked, has he reconciled his admiration for the apostle of nonviolence with his support for the militants who killed not only the Indian security forces but also Ordinary Caxmiris? After all, Gandhi had defeated his enemy with peace. “Yes, but Gandhi’s enemy was much softer with him than mine was with me,” Malik said. “They’ve never done it,” he added, pointing to her face, her youthful features frozen in an agonizing smile.
I did not see Malik during my recent visit to Srinagar – I encountered another prominent Separatist Hurriyat Conference of All Parties, to which he belongs – but I remembered his admiration for Gandhi when the one day before my arrival, the militants killed seven people in The district of Kulgam. Five of them were policemen, holding a van used to deliver the money to bank branches; The other two were civil bank employees. The seven were from Kashmir and the murder sent a clash in the valley, even among those who had no love for the Indian state. In WhatsApp and Facebook groups, many Kashmir agreed that it was not serious. It was one thing for militants to attack Indian security forces, but to kill civilians was something else.