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Remembering Junaid Mattoo

Remembering Junaid Mattoo
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Zahid Mushtaq 


He did every single act he intended to do and said every last thing he meant to say, used every snippet of what he had, until the dawn doomed on 17 of June 2107, and for a person like him there would be no greater aspiration than that. The admiration of the admirable and the perverse that exists in people, the ideal and the absurd, the hideous and the beautiful is what he knew and understood and always forgave and the people reciprocated. Sheer energy and enthusiasm- Junaid’s Central gift and the quality he shared with Khudwani (his birthplace) in particular and Kashmir in general- is his legacy to our movement and it will always be there, ready to be siphoned off or mixed with some new element by somebody new.

Famously known to be the “Jolly Natured” among his friends, they wouldn’t even dare to dream of him taking such an “Extreme Step.” Junaid Mattoo, like many choice conscious Kashmiri new age rebels, was not driven by any such circumstances which held sway during the 1990s but to intensify the Kashmiris’ Cry for Freedom. Fun was his field, his irresistibly contagious laughter had since childhood made him a much demanded member amongst his circle. To the surprise of his friends he hadn’t changed this enjoyable exuberance even after joining the ranks. At his birth, his village lost contact with the southern side of his district. Unidentified gunmen, whose identity is known to Kashmir, had burnt down the main vein of communication between South and Central Kashmir-The Khudwani Bridge. The same predestined bridge on which he was last seen unarmed, before joining, by some fellow villagers from where, they claim, he had boarded a vehicle ascending to his destiny.

His Sister recalls his strict nature, of how he would never allow anyone enter his bedroom before 11 in the morning, no matter the circumstances. He had unconditional love for milk. “Jaaji (Junaid’s mother) would hide the milk in washing machine because he would not gulp down a single morsel, until the level of milk equalled the level of rice in the utensil”, recalls his elder sister, proud of his once apprehensive brother. Born to economically sound traditional bakers, his mother passed away few years before he joined the ranks. This loss left the family, including him shattered and he shifted his loyalties towards his father and younger sister, who still scrolls down the gallery of his phone, unable to believe that the photographed figure will never come alive again. She lost her sweetheart in a brother.

An acclaimed swimmer and a cricketer, his brothers won’t let him stop over at their bakery shop. They desired him to remain inclined towards his studies instead. But he had a different trail in his mind which, his father acclaims, “came as a thunderbolt” to him. He doesn’t let anyone in the family to put on Junaid’s clothes, fearing the haunting return of his memories.

His vociferously outspoken and carelessness in attitude towards life, had earned Junaid a low opinion among his relatives, probably because they expected much from him which he had floundered to deliver. However his martyrdom raised him to heights ineffable. His paternal aunt(my mother), would often call him to our place explaining do’s and don’ts but his whimsical nature would easily persuade her, and every other caring relative that, whole caboodle was perfectly fine. He would occasionally start back his antic mocks and pseudo cajoling, confining the seriousness and retrieving the amusement for which he was known.

He joined the ranks on 4 May 2015 and the news of his joining the rebel ranks, at my home, was broken in an unconventional way. We were told that our maternal uncle-Mamaji, (Junaid’s Father), had lost something very important, which he surely had. To this day, I wonder how literally metaphorical this statement was. None could believe that this was a reality and thus all the kith and kin, friends and relatives began looking for him here, there and everywhere, until one day an anonymous person had delivered a letter at their door. The letter, written by Junaid was addressed to his younger sister, telling them to stop the pursuit. An FIR was launched and thus returned the shrouded body of Junaid on 17th of June 2017.

He attained transcendental stardom while he was in the ‘theatre of war’. The rebel identification mechanism- means that a person has joined militant ranks, goes to Junaid Mattoo. Though his predecessor, Burhan Wani is credited with ‘socialising’ the movement through group pictures, the credit for solo pictures goes to Junaid Mattoo. During his recent visit to Kashmir, India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh was recently briefed about it in Srinagar.

Premonitions regarding Junaid’s behaviour before joining the militancy, were many, owing to his lackadaisical, inadvertent observance and social graces. His mother, confesses a close cousin of Junaid, had once called him to their place, authorising him to take Junaid away from their home, anticipating that he might be reduced to a thief, owning to his reckless demeanour. “As we were lowering Junaid’s body into the grave, besides his mother”, recalls his cousin, “I cried for his mother to see the heights Junaid had attained.” He wasn’t born a glorified soul or a holy being, but through his struggles understood, in Frantz Fanon’s word’s “Occupation is a violent conjugation where the sense of self develops through a negation rather than a separation, a relation rather than a distinction, with the occupied” which I believe he wasn’t ready to vitiate. Junaid Mattoo, like every other rebel in the battlefield had called for a genuine process that could halt the mechanism of creation of rebels, but alas, the everyday tragedies could be prevented had the sounds not felt on deaf ears because who doesn’t believe that, to go beyond identity mirror, image and representative language- means to die, to die away from the social, to go beyond this world; a communication, a connectedness with the non-worldly, the spiritual. Only through succumbing to the ‘death’, one can flee away from the social identity; a flight of reterritorialization. To become an orphan, a body without organs is the possibility to remain an outsider and challenge the policing of state. A radical spiritual ascendance is ‘death’; to become an orphan, become an outsider, to become the ‘new community’ the community of new age rebels in Kashmir.

How finely did he speak to his friends at the time when death had already knocked at his door, which went viral on social media, as if he was sitting in a restaurant sipping cups of tea with them speaks volumes about the fearlessness and heights about a once ‘apprehensive’ young man had achieved. It is high time for the state to introspect the causes, young enthusiastic, boys who should be thronging institutions of development and progress are at an open rebellion with it.

Author is pursuing graduation in Department of English, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India.

Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position or editorial policy of Oracle Opinions.

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