Arts, Science, Culture

To the Hunters of Mountains and Valleys | Mujahid Mughal

Federico_Veronesi_2009-01-28 Masai Mara_4728


Every life is sacred. At least every life is sacred to someone. In other words as the life of a hunter who is born with a body which physically is called “human” among hunters, is sacred to the hunts-man society (who enjoy the flesh of an animal, and peel the skin of a cave dweller). Life of a guerrilla (a forest dweller) is also sacred to the forest dwellers which are protected by guerrillas. Guerrillas protect not only their lives and that of their genus but also the territory and life of all the other forest dwellers. It is a well-known fact that hunters have always been selfish and lusty and guerrillas have always been the selfless fighters and protectors. Do guerrillas have a right to property?

The lap of Himalayas has always been an abode for the rich ecological diversity, unless the hunters invaded it. Himalayan has been a breeding ground for the weak-hearted pigeons, beautiful dears, peaceful lions and goats which are made scapegoats, when time demands.  It has also been a home to some species of parrots which are trained to utter nuisance, their masters indoctrinate them with.  Himalayan cows have been considered both- the goddesses and the “meal” by huntsmen society as the situation demands.  There are innumerable species of dogs. There are dogs that only bark and seldom bite. There are dogs which not only bark and sniff but also bite. There are indeed many other species whose allegiance cannot be traced. People call them all chameleons. Some of the fauna are so identical that it becomes hard to differentiate between them.  For instance, it has always been difficult to differentiate between wild cats, leopards, lions and tigers for the huntsmen. Still there are many others who even fail to differentiate between monkeys and chimpanzees.

Nonetheless, rich forests have been a welcoming and breeding ground for the forest dwellers which are called “terrorising-animals” by the outsiders. By outsiders I mean the hunters and the intruders. These hunters in the beginning made their lavish lives out of these forests only. The forest dwellers unlike hunters (who never let other species to thrive), let them flourish, even at the cost of intrusion into their dens and nests. The Forest dwellers, (which are called “terrorising-animals”) have always been kind to almost everyone, be it hunters, Angels or Jins. However, hunters took their compassion as their weakness and timidity.  Lust thence got the kick, along with conceit. Lust, eventually, spreading like a pitch-dark night on the forests grew more and more.

Why is everyone invading the territory of a peaceful lion that never does the same to us (the huntsmen)?  Why are we not as peaceful as the lion, if we are as powerful as him?  And if the hunters’ society concedes lion as a ruthless and terrorising-beast why don’t they leave the forests?

With time, the hunters also developed the skill and technology required to eliminate the forest dwellers from every corner of the forest. Even after collecting and gathering the riches and booty enough for their generations to come, the huntsmen remained unsatisfied. They subsequently in full swing began to kill the feeble and weak terrorising-animals.  These frail-terrorising beasts which actually were the prey for foxes and bears, also received the occasional sympathy of the foxes and bears.  For this reason, to fight them all, hunters not only brought home the foreign technology and skill but also the foreign hunters (more skilled and more sophisticated) to kill more and more and accumulate more and more. Lust, as they say, has no end. Sickles, arrows and swords, were replaced by guns, revolvers and pistols and what not.

I was unfortunately born in the huntsmen-society, which praised the huntsman, when they killed the forest dwellers. They also glamorised the tales of their bravery and daring. And when, at times, hunters were killed in retaliation or due to their own mistakes, by the terrorising-beasts, huntsmen-society talked eloquently about the barbarianism of these forest dwellers. Animals were cursed upon.

In the forests of Pir Panjal, in 1990s, such a hunter once was caught and retaliated by a lion. In the incident which has become a tale now, a hunter fought with the lion and was therefore injured for a life time. The story of his heroism and grit (strangely) flew on the surface of every river and echoed in the clefts of every valley. What I, being a child observed, was that the hunter was actually not only terrified but also petrified while narrating the story to us.

But my friends over there mistook him as the bravest man; the valiant man who could save himself with the help of gun shots fired at the Lion with precision. They talked a lot about his skill and dexterity.   He could somehow make the lion run out of his den with at the stake of technology and allies. But the truth as it appeared to me was that, he actually was haunted by his experience with the lion and the injuries he sustained.  I also surmised that, he must have died out of that injuries and burn only. Yes, it burns. They say that when the forest dwellers attack the hunters, they make it burn.

It is also being narrated in the mountain tales that before him another hunter was caught by the lions who could not survive. He was so much injured that the injuries accompanied all his life and it became difficult for the hunts-man family to lead a life they never imagined.

However, being an inquisitive child, after meeting the hunter, I had many questions in my mind. I asked myself, why is everyone invading the territory of a peaceful lion that never does the same to us (the huntsmen)?  Why are we not as peaceful as the lion, if we are as powerful as him?  And if the hunters’ society concedes lion as a ruthless and terrorising-beast why don’t they leave the forests? Why don’t the hunters learn a lesson from the earlier tales of hunt? Or is it that, hunters have always cheated more huntsmen society by telling them only false stories about forests?  I also thought why the lion has no right to protect his cubs and his den? Why is no one sympathising with the lion?  How rational is it to sympathize with the huntsmen?

I also wanted other members of the huntsmen-society to ponder over these questions. But the society of hunters, to my surprise, equipped the hunters with more ammunition to kill the forest dwellers. The results were the same. Eventually the huntsmen-society sympathized with the wounded and killed hunters. Being a part of the hunters’ society, I also prayed for the injured hunters. After all, they too were “life”. But deep inside me, there was a voice that said, “Those hunters, who choose to hunt the lions, should be ready to accept the consequences”. For the huntsmen-society, the voice suggested that “if the hunters die, it should not be disturbing for them. It should not be disturbing, at least for me”. Is it not like sending the soldiers to a war and expecting them not to get killed?

I therefore concluded that “those who sympathize with the hunters must not let them invade the forests (or else they should celebrate whatever comes after a hunt-the corps or the glory)”. That’s the only way to protect ecology & environment. That’s the only way to save the hunters and “terrorising-animals”. That’s the only way to save the very existence.

Print Friendly
The following two tabs change content below.

Mujahid Mughal

Research Scholar at Aligarh Muslim University
Mujahid Mughal is BSR Fellow at Department of Geography, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. He hails from Poonch, Jammu and Kashmir. Mr. Mughal is the author of "The Paradise Unseen" that showcases the beauty of Poonch and adjacent places in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.