We as a society have confronted so many diseases/viruses over the years and vanquished them, and I am sure by the grace of Almighty we will combat and recuperate from Covid-19 as well. But there is an invisible virus which has been eroding the happiness of our society from decades and that virus is Casteism.
Even being an age old practice, the Casteism still persists to haunt us. This old evil has become the fundamental eligibility for marriages in Kashmir. Just by looking at the caste, people are arranging marriages while sitting in their rooms without having a clue about the person’s character and some people even force their children to marry on the basis of caste which very often results in severe post-marriage repercussions.
The literacy rate in Kashmir is around 68% and we are still following the same evil customs our grand ancestors followed. It is a shame. We should not stop at being only literate but we need to make ourselves educated. The readers should comprehend the difference between the two.
A literate means when one can read and write but being educated is not just getting a degree and a job. It is about developing a vision to distinguish between the good and bad, to broaden the realm of your mind and eradicate the unnecessary notions and superstitions, to recognize the social evils and stand against them even if you have to stand alone.
Islam never permits us to discriminate on the basis of caste. I believe Allah has personified all of us equal and never discerns on the basis of caste, colour, etc, but only deeds. They say “Never judge a book by its cover”. I would say “Never Judge a person by his/her caste”. Even if a person is of low caste, it doesn’t matter, he or she can still be a good person, modest, decent, educated, helpful, generous and a good human being.
I have kept my caste hidden on purpose so that one may not think I am targeting a particular caste or community. I request every reader to abandon this notion of evil and incinerate it forever. Give happiness a chance to touch the lives of your family. Depression and mental issues are taking our Kashmir by storm from last couple of decades. No parents would like to see their children slip into these melancholic conditions by forcing them to marry the wrong person. Let’s open our minds to the new world where every human is alike and has no caste but only a name. If you cannot change the society, change yourself.
Zahid Mushtaq is a Research Scholar at National Institute of Technology, Srinagar.
The author can be reached at: email@example.com