Legend of The Guardian: The owls of Kashmir
Someone shared this disturbing piece of news on Twitter a couple days ago:
A young bright boy from Kashmir named Ruhail Afzal Sheikh said he was offered a journalism internship with esteemed ‘The Guardian’, but had to see his dreams shatter in front of his eyes because he was denied the police clearance that is mandatory for obtaining a passport. Apparently, the boy did nothing wrong himself; and he said the CID refused a clearance report due to his alleged links with a Kashmir Separatist JKLF militant – Muhammad Afzal Sheikh. Also, this is not a serious link of any sort whereby young Ruhail could have been influenced in words, thoughts or actions by Muhammad Sheikh; Md Sheikh is simply Ruhail’s father.
In india, err…. Senior Mr Sheikh may not like that; let’s just say in ‘these parts’, a son is quite independent and usually doesn’t follow the ideology or career pathway of his father at all; if you don’t believe me, ask Mr Omar Abdullah (CM of Kashmir) or even Mr Rahul Gandhi- after all he too is part Kashmiri as per his own claim.
Young Ruhail is his own man, an adult, and his father’s sins..- err..we shouldn’t get into that facet here…let’s just say his father’s crimes- should not affect Ruhail’s career plans or his desire to obtain an Indian Passport.
I actually admire that this bright young man is accepting his identity as an Indian- which Senior Mr Sheikh would very likely abhor! A passport is not a mere piece of document that allows you to travel. An Indian passport is a statement that it’s holder is under the patronage of the Republic of India and this patronage is authorized in the name of the President of India. Read the statement on the passport below to understand my point here.
It’s quite commendable that Ruhail persisted on traveling for his British internship on India’s patronage. This clearly had significant symbolic significance to him; it wasn’t just about having a way to travel out of India. That, he could’ve learned to do even without passport from Senior Mr Sheikh who – according to Rising Kashmit report quoted above – has crossed Indian border both ways to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and back in from Nepal.
Some others are wary that Ruhail may have been indoctrinated into Azad Kashmir idea and he may exploit this opportunity at The Guardian to bring the Kashmir Azadi cause to the international platform which may undermine India’s position in front of the world’s eyes somehow. To these worriers, I only have to say that a warrior with a pen is better to fight than one with a weapon. ‘Pen is mightier than sword’ and all bullshit was relevant in the medieval times may be; when it comes to a pen versus an AK-47 or a suicide vest or may be an aircraft being flown into a building, I’d rather fight the pen please!
And for this reason, I was quite happy that young Ruhail was seeking the patronage and identity of India and wanted to take up a pen, not be a terrorist like someone close to him foolishly chose to.
It is for these reasons, that I thought denying a passport to this young boy was a tactical blunder. I’d have facilitated his passport & internship at The Guardian, brought him to a public stage and celebrated him if I could! Make an example for others about the right thing to do, the right side to be on!
But no! The CID Kashmir wouldn’t have it that way!
Thank the stars that a very resourceful Twitter personality came forwards to help and took the young boy under his wings. Nilim Dutta appeared as the knight with the shining head and escalated the matter right to the top; to the Chief Minister of Kashmir Mr Omar Abdullah.
— Nilim Dutta (@NilimDutta) January 8, 2014
Believe me, Mr Dutta is one that’d have excellent insight into legal and other ways for people to cross borders through his personal interests & inclinations, but he too seemingly suggested that Ruhail should obtain a passport for his purpose. Mr Dutta must also be quite influential with certain circles; after all, his hair-style is not all that matches with Mr Gandhi, he’s spent months in police lock-up like Mr Gandhi too!
Thankfully, Their efforts bore fruit. The CM intervened to obtain a clearance of CID report for the boy; he can finally have that passport he always wanted!
@NilimDutta I’ve asked the CID for the facts in this case. I’ll get back to everyone here tomorrow with the details as they exist.
— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) January 8, 2014
Sheikh Ruhail’s CID clearance was issued today. Good luck to him as he pursues his journalistic career.
— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) January 9, 2014
This is where a minute technical fault appeared. Somehow, after having forced change in the boy’s CID reports, Mr Omar Abdullah (CM) realized that the ‘Guardian’ internship was never even offered to the boy. Damn! This makes someone in the ‘Ruhail-Twitter Celebs- Omar- CID’ cycle was an incompetent slacker that didn’t even verify facts properly before recommending a revision in CID clearance. Any idea who that could be, Mr CM?
So I’ve heard the boy claiming to have lost his internship with the Guardian Newspaper because of his passport never had such a offer 1/n
— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) January 11, 2014
Nilim, who was convinced that this young boy is an individual of himself and shouldn’t be influenced by his father’s thoughts/acts, seems to disagree with the boy’s individuality a bit later- but that’s quite as one would expect.
I had the distinct feeling that there were elders who goaded him to go along, @abdullah_omar. Still, it is wrong and he shouldn’t have. 2/n
— Nilim Dutta (@NilimDutta) January 11, 2014
I sure hope the original culprits- the CID of Kashmir- who stopped the clearance for Ruhail – must also be under scanner to find out why they made a negative recommendation report initially. It sounds unlikely that the CID officers on Ruhail’s beat- HC Ghulam Ahmad Malik or ASI Mushtaq Ahmad or the DGP of CID N. D.
Wani could be blocking Ruhail’s application merely because of his religious views or Kashmiri heritage, and then the only reason left is either an expectation of a bribe or may be they are genuinely concerned about some nascent details about the candidate in question that they can’t expose in detail quite yet. Anyway, one thing is obvious- either the first report or the revision has to be incompetent in some way as the both can’t be entirely true, right?
In the mean time, Rising Kashmir issues a correction that they didn’t actually verify Ruhail’s claims before publishing the story. Both Nilim and Omar have realized that the young boy was fibbing and have tried to explain their steps trying to help Ruhail get that passport- the passport that he may not actually need presently – because this boy isn’t going anywhere internationally for the time being.
At this thought, my heart swells even further- as this boy wanted to acquire the patronage of the Republic of India as a symbolic step, even when he didn’t really need to, and that demonstrates his allegiance towards India is even stronger than I thought before!
My little career tip for Ruhail Sheikh- forget ‘The Guardian’, take up a journalism intern-ship with Mr Nilim Dutta, you will go places. Just beware to always book and pay your own hotel rooms, and always wear high-ankle supportive boots- who knows when you hear a knock at the front door have to jump out of a window crying ‘Satyameba Jay’!
(This post was originally published here and is reproduced here with the authors permission)