Friday, 10 May 2013

Prisoners of Hatred

Paulo Coelho wrote in his famous book The Alchemist, “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”, and as his fan, I have always believed in these words and tried to incorporate them in my life. Various aims and ambitions rule our lives and the intermingling phase between those ambitions and dreams is the very base of our existence. We are born as ordinary individuals but the moment we grow into this world as people who have nothing but suspicion that is when the problem starts. Even I am no exception to that rule.
When I was in the seventh grade, there lived a Pakistani family in my neighborhood. They had a son named Ali. Being a social butterfly at a very young age I was very excited to have a foreigner friend. But then I never understood why all other people thought them to be a social outcaste. After 6 months they left the area and nothing exactly changed except for a constant query in my mind why were they being treated like that. And somewhere in my subconscious the answer came, “They were Pakistanis”. I stepped into the age of reasoning and rationality and found my answer to my biggest query. I learnt about the wars being fought, relations being snapped, laws being disobeyed and most important of it was a deep distrust being created between both sides. Something inside of me never accepted that two countries with so much of history, culture and heritage to share could ever be so far torn apart. I always dreamt that people will change and they will understand their mistakes which costs and will cost so many lives. It is not really a one – sided job, it needs to be done by both parties.

In the recent past, the deaths of the two war prisoners have made me rethink the reality of those naive dreams. The killings of Sarabjit Singh and Sanaullah Ranjay ached my heart. They were already suffering from being imprisoned in an inhuman condition and on top of that being killed in a prison scuffle perpetrated by hatred. But the important thing which really crossed my mind was the attitude of both the nations. India to save her territorial strategies never actually claimed the release of Mr. Singh and many more like his, so was the egotist and unstable nature of Pakistan’s foreign relations. Though there were so called ‘Talks’, but they were inconclusive, and they are still left to die in a foreign prison governed under foreign laws. After Mr. Singh’s death, Indian Govt. called the act “Barbaric”. Wasn’t their attitude barbaric when they left him to the whims of a different government?  As Einstein said, “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Was the death of Mr Singh the action and then death of Mr. Ranjay the reaction? I still can’t find the equal and opposite part of it. 

There are more than 100 of PoWs who are still imprisoned on both the sides. Officially, 54 prisoners have been claimed to be PoWs in Pakistan and have been put to trial at the International Court of Justice, but no one counts the unofficial statistics. Agreements have been breached by both the sides. There are unknown accounts of similar attacks of hatred on other prisoners too. It is difficult to know how many prisoners have faced the same fate as Mr. Singh and Mr. Ranjay. So, on the whole, prisoners on both the sides are in constant danger of death. They might be given death sentence for their crimes, but they die every day with the fear of being killed by fellow inmates and more importantly by the cruel attitude of the respective governments.

Politicians have a habit of exaggerating the true accounts. But what about us? Are we so blinded that we really can’t understand the true nature of any act? We say that they were Prisoners of War and crime, but I think they were the Prisoners of Hatred. The hatred which have been bubbling in our veins since the day we got independence and lost our dignity. We are not born hating other people. It’s the society which teaches us to hate and teaches us “They are Pakistanis”, “They are Indians”. No amount of movies, talks, speeches would help people to raise the blood stained curtains of hatred, but it would be our own realization. But for that realization to come, I can’t imagine how many blood battles will be fought and how many lives have to be sacrificed.

We should always understand one simple fact that opposite of Love is not hate, but love gone bad. My dream of meeting my old friend in the streets of Lahore remains a sharp edged dream which can cost our lives too. But then I will do my part of believing in that dream without the fear of failure.

P.S – This is a personal account. Apologies if it hurts anyone’s sentiment. Comments are encouraged but I hope it won’t be based on “Hatred”.

Sharanya Kundu

@sharankundu on Twitter

The author is a young law student at ILS law college, Pune. She has worked for women's rights in the past  and dreams of visiting Pakistan. She has a strong belief that India and Pakistan will share a positive future.

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