By Gitanjali Maria:
I have never been to Kashmir neither do I have relatives or friends living there. My only connections with this northern state that I can dig out deep from my memory is a failed attempt to tour the state (we had even booked the hotels but couldn’t go due to some unavoidable reasons) and a memorable journey with some Jawans of the Indian Army and CRPF deployed in the troubled state. But somewhere deep down I believe that I just love the place, the beautiful photos of the snow-clad valley, the mountains, the shikaras and the gardens. My heart especially goes out to the people of the state who have lived their lives in great turmoil and have suffered so such and continue to do so.
A generation that has grown up seeing years of bloodbath and violence is up in arms now. The youth of the valley who are now out in the open protesting and pelting stones against the government machinery is a generation that has witnessed more bloodshed and bullets in their childhood and teenage years than they would have played cricket or golf. Their frustration and demand for better living conditions and environment is understandable and genuine. One wouldn’t always like to see a gun trotting battalion troop around in one’s backyard. A peaceful and serene atmosphere, a secure livelihood and progress is what everyone wishes for, and so do the Kashmiris.
This pent up anger lingering in the minds of the Kashmiri youth is channelized by the Mujahideen and other anti-social elements to tear the fabric of the state. We Indians may cry aloud ‘Kashmir hamara hai’, but the Kashmiri remains confused as to his/her identity; whether it is better to be a Hindustani or a Pakistani or become autonomous. Kashmir has also become an excuse for extremists and terrorists to target others parts of India. What happens in Kashmir can send terror waves to other parts of the country too as can be read from the motives of the terrorists who attacked tourists in the old Delhi region and are threatening for more in Mumbai and other cities.
The solution to the problem in Kashmir is multidimensional and has to be solved politically, economically and through dialogues and negotiations. Ushering in new developmental projects, generating employment and educational opportunities for the young, phased withdrawal of troops and a permanent settlement to the Kashmir issue with our neighbouring countries with the approval and under the supervision of the United Nations and other world powers is essential to end the over six decades long strife. The likes and opinions of the Kashmiris should also be given a prominent place when the ultimate decision is reached.
We cannot let the city continue to heave under curfew for half the time in a year nor can the colossal loss of education and man days be continued. We should not be creators of yet another generation that has been brought up in the shadows of curfews, stone-pelting and bullets. And to my brethren in the valley, we do understand and can gauge your emotions but please put a restraint so that peace can prevail and normal lives resumed and further activities discussed. Let this ‘Paradise on Earth’ truly and forever remain a heavenly abode.
The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.