As the sun slipped behind the Himalayas, the poet picked his way down to the rocky riverbed. He looked left and right to make sure nobody was watching. Then, to the burbling water, he began to read:
Each word spoken here meets censors and checks
Yesterday the ones sermonizing on dignity
Have today rude daggers kissing their necks.
All his life, Ghulam Mohammad Bhat has read the poetry of resistance to anybody who would listen. During the mid-1990s peak of the insurgency in his home of Kashmir, the starkly beautiful land long claimed by both India and Pakistan, he sang eulogies for militants at their funerals.
For that, the local government dragged him to detention centers, where he wrote poetry and read it to fellow detainees after they were hung by their wrists and forced to stare at high-voltage lamps. All he needed, he said, was a pen and a piece of paper.
Now, more than two decades later, Mr. Bhat — who writes under the pen name Madhosh Balhami — reads and composes poetry in secret.