When it comes to Kashmir, India acts as a police state, holding even speech hostage. Why this obsession with narrative control? Mirza Waheed in Guernica
In the summer of 2012, I received a phone call from the Indian High Commission in London. It was odd. I hadn’t applied for a visa or any such thing. My wife and three-year-old son had, however, and had been waiting nearly three months. We were scheduled to visit my home in Indian-occupied Kashmir for my sister’s wedding, which was drawing close. We had been anxious and had written to friends and acquaintances to ask if they could help. We knew the drill, of course: for many “cross-border” couples—I was born and raised in Kashmir, my wife in Karachi—the trip home is an annual or biannual ritual of humiliation that must be borne if one is to see one’s people.
I told the voice on the phone that my wife was away—at work at the BBC World Service—and they could call her on her mobile phone. They did; a certain Mr. K told her they’d like to speak with her about her visa application; could she and her husband come for a meeting? When she asked why she needed her husband to come along even though he wasn’t an applicant, they insisted it would be better if he came too. I was still baffled, but we decided to go.