Let’s save our souls


by Mareaya Fayaz

The recent sex scandals busted in the Valley are a serious pointer to the moral and
spiritual degradation Kashmir as a society is seeing. If we don’t stop, we are in for even darker times.

The murder of our moral and ethical culture Afu Khodaya fazal kar, badas ta janas, Hyandis
ta Musalmanas (God shower your grace on good and bad people alike, both on Hindus and on Muslims)  – A prayer in the time of Sufis

I miss the times when everything used to be simple and clean in Kashmir. The days when people valued the moral and the ethical structure of the society. Preserving these values keeps us close to our basic Sufi sense for, that is what Kashmir and Kashmiris are known for… Kashmir is also called ‘reshi waer’ meaning the place of rishis and the Sufi saints. As long as the influence of Sufism had been strong in Kashmir, the Valley never witnessed a moral or ethical dilemma. The society maintained its brotherhood – be it a Hindu a
Muslim, a Sikh or a Christian… The more regressive the thoughts became, the more
regressive crimes started happening in our society, the crimes we never imagined would take place.

The hopeless descent
Only this week I read a news piece about the sex scandal busted by the Jammu and Kashmir police in Handwara after the police received information from a source. The police arrested the house owner with his wife, who was an accomplice, and also arrested the sex worker with two customers and Rs 47,800 cash. I was shocked at what I was reading!
This is the third such sex racket the Jammu and Kashmir police have busted this month.
Previously, a sex racket was busted in Nowgam area, another in Bhag-i-Mehtab area of Srinagar.
This piece is not about the news of such distortions of the society. This is to throw light on how, for a long time now, Kashmiris are murdering the moral and ethical fabric of their culture. How people have strangulated the idea of brotherhood and brought on the pandemic of immorality upon themselves. The question is – how did Kashmir become a place deprived of all its fertility, morality and brotherhood, despite being known as
a paradise on earth?
T N Dhar Kundan, in one of his lectures on the old culture and literature of Kashmir, praises the Kashmiri society for its deep vision of brotherhood and moral and ethical sustainability. He states that when the Sufi culture became prominent in Kashmir, it coincided with the already prevalent tradition that stressed “seeking to refine deeper realisation of the Divine within one’s consciousness rather than engaging in critical theological discussions; realizing the possibilities of the soul in solitude and silence; and to transform the flashing and fading moments of vision into a steady light that could illumine the long years of life”. Thus was born a synthesised cultural system that we proudly refer to as ‘the rishi cult’.
The daily activities of a typical Kashmiri could provide glimpses of this hybrid culture.
The post 1990 era has been one of upheaval, which has embarrassed the Valley’s composite culture.

The mutual trust, relationships, and understanding between individuals of different religions have been the worst casualties including our moral and ethical tombs. To me, the day Kashmiris decided to divide themselves on the basis of religion, sect and castes is the day immorality started creeping into our social ethos. Kashmiris used to be watchdogs of one another because they used to care about what happens to their society but as
soon as their bond broke and the idea of ‘we don’t care as long as we are safe’ came in, the society’s moral fabric broke. So I think, instead of blaming outer circumstances, the truth is that our society failed to protect itself from this growing immorality. Given these considerations, it wouldn’t be inaccurate to describe the current state of Kashmir as ‘unreal’; a place that is gradually slipping from its lofty spiritual ideals.
The recent embarrassing sex scandals have caused our social order to break apart. We are selling our moral sensitivities. There is no doubt that this is taking place and has contributed to our society’s heedless commercialisation and degeneration of human values. My land has a special significance.
It has been associated with righteousness and peace. But today’s Kashmir is entirely different from what it was. Leave aside Sufis, there are no nice people in the modern world. The land has been fully taken over by individuals who don’t care about wasting it, and it now serves as a haven for immorality and corruption, a place where human
life has no value.

Reactions to the scandal: Some notes

People have been commenting on this story and I don’t see many people going to the root of this issue but just declaring online punishments like “hang the culprits” or “the private parts of men involved should be cut off” etc etc. Some have turned it into a battlefield between regions, which is pretty immature if you ask me. But the one reaction that I was shocked to see was when someone commented on the ‘provocative’ dresses women wear or something to the extent of saying that if women were not to charge money for sexual favours, this might not happen… This was something I did not know how to react to! Women, during such issues, become an easy target and I have made this observation again and again. Muzammil Maqbool, an advocate who lives in the same locality in which the Handwara sex racket was busted, has said : “We never knew that a sex racket was being run in the locality But yes the people involved already had a bad name here but we could never comprehend that they could go this far. The area, after this sex racket was busted, has earned a bad name though we are thankful to the police that they took action and busted the racket because if they didn’t, we won’t know how long this would have continued”. He also said that they have held a meeting with their sarpanch and the elders of the locality and it has been decided that they would get a vigilance committee together so as to keep an eye on what’s going on in the locality. Also, they would be particular about
verifying the credentials of anybody coming to rent a room or a house in their vicinity. He
admitted that he was in shock that all this was done by a married couple. “What will the younger generation learn if this is what the elders are doing?” he asked.
A woman activist – Shabnum Dar from Hadipora – said: “I can’t believe how much our society has degraded. We cannot guess who could be involved in such crimes; sometimes it could be one’s own relatives! Sex workers are sometimes brought into the profession by their own family members or relatives. And once they are in, they cannot get out. It could be for money or sometimes, they are simply blackmailed. So sex workers should be seen as victims and not always judged on the moral scale”. Well, it’s certainly time we sat up and checked our moral metres before too long. Our spirituality and our religious rituals are of no use if we cannot practise them in every moment of our lives.


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