The 11th of June 2016 marked the fifth anniversary of Tufail Ahmed Mattoo’s passing. Tufail was a 17 year old boy whose death sparked off a sentiment that ignited the protests that gave shape to the summer of 2010 in Kashmir. Accordingly, Cups of nun chai began its journey as a newspaper serial in Kashmir on this day. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday the Srinagar-based newspaper Kashmir Reader serialised Cups of nun chai in print and online. This is a means of exhibiting the work in Kashmir, while also bringing these stories of 2010 into dialogue with the news of ‘today’. However, this journey was in no way simple
Almost a month after this media intervention began the death of a popular rebel commander set off a wave of violence not seen in Kashmir since 2010. Hundreds of thousands of people across Kashmir came out to mark the matyrdom of Burhan Wani and his companions. Protests unfolded. Mourning continued. And the state responded with ever greater force. Once again in Kashmir people were dying and suffering serious injuries on a daily basis. In the public imagination of Kashmir, and in the pages of Kashmir Reader, the news of ‘today’ collided with the memory of 2010 in momentous ways.
Then, amidst the government’s crackdown on the pillars of civil society in Kashmir, on the 2nd of October 2016 Kashmir Reader was banned. The government claimed the newspaper was inciting violence, though no specific example was provided. This censorship is just one part of the ongoing violence of the world’s largest democracy. Kashmir Reader was banned for being good at journalism. It was banned for thinking and writing in a war zone.
Three months later, and as the calm of winter set in the government imposed ban was lifted. Kashmir Reader resumed publishing on the 28th of December 2016, and with it the newspaper serialisation of Cups of nun chai continued.
On the 22nd of April 2017 the final cups of nun chai were published in Kashmir Reader.The ten months this newspaper serial unfolded has been one of the most charged in Kashmir’s recent history. It’s been telling to see events in Kashmir and the world, reported alongside these stories and conversations that took place between 2010-2012. Somethings remain the same, but others have changed irrevocably. The course of history continues to travel a path that is neither better nor worse than everything that has come before. If 2010 seemed to herald in new creative forms of dissent and protest, the fact this was not met with any meaningful response means that 2016 and 2017 have been marked by a return to armed struggle and overt defiance by those without arms on the streets. In their exasperation mourners in Kashmir are now shouting “There is only one solution—gun-solution, gun-solution”, a slogan Suvaid Yaseen sheds light on in an insightful and urgent article recently published by raiot.
These newspapers, over 100 in total, will inhabit different readings rooms and libraries, starting in New Delhi in mid-2017 and traveling the world there after. If you would like to host an iteration of this, or have any suggestions for venues, please be in touch.
Massive thanks and praise to Kashmir Reader, especially Parvaiz Bukhari and Hilal Mir for pushing the boundaries of what a newspaper can be.