The forgotten Kashmiri

Kashmir used to synonymous with ‘Paradise on earth’, but it is now hell on earth.  It is hell not only for our forces; but also for the common Kashmiri men and women. The present day Kashmiri youth have grown up listening to the sounds of gunfire and witnessing violence.

I am an ordinary Indian who has an emotional attachment with Kashmir, as the best part of my teens was spent in the valley. In those halcyon days of the seventies, Srinagar was a lively place. International tourists used to throng Srinagar. It was also a favourite destination for the film industry. In the last three decades the cinema houses have closed down and there is hardly any source of entertainment.

What went wrong in Kashmir?  Most people either ignore or hesitate to talk about the missing factor ‘the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits’. The government of the day failed to protect the Pandits and the rest of India was largely indifferent to the plight of these people. Those days there were neither cable network nor internet, so perhaps the rest of the country was ignorant about the happenings in the distant valley. However the exodus and ethnic cleansing of the Pandits changed the social fabric of the valley for ever. The most misused word by the politicians and the liberal intellectuals is ‘Kashmiriyat’.  The local politicians now pay only lip service to Kashmiriyat. We are afraid to admit that what we are facing in the valley is radical Islam.

In the seventies the Pandits and Muslims lived amicably. We failed the Kashmiris when we did not speak up about the violence against the Kashmiri Hindus. Till date no serious efforts have been made to rehabilitate the Kashmiri Hindus. Much water has flown on the river Jhelum and perhaps it is too late to resettle them in the valley.

We will be failing the Kashmiris again if we do not take a stand against the victimisation of Kashmiris living in other parts of India. We are walking into a trap if we make the Kashmiris feel like outsiders. The liberals and the right wingers have been making irresponsible statements.

Do the self -professed ‘intellectuals’ who espouse the cause of ‘Azadi’ for Kashmir, realise that it will lead to a second partition. It will not only lead to the bifurcation of the state; but may also have repercussion in other parts of the country. The right wingers want to boycott everything Kashmiri and are also taking out their anger on the youth working/studying in different parts of the country. There is no easy solution for the Kashmir imbroglio.  

However, the least we ordinary Indians can do is to make the Kashmiris residing in our cities feel wanted and show them the plurality of our society. Then they will be our best brand ambassadors. 

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The forgotten Kashmiri

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