By Prateek Asnani:
The raindrops fell, creating ripples in the serene lake. As the shikara moved at a leisurely pace amidst the lofty Himalayas, I felt a sense of inner peace. Ironically, I was situated in the middle of the Dal Lake in Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, a state that has been ravaged by politics and terrorism in recent years.
The political instability in the state dates back to the days of the Partition where India and Pakistan fiercely laid claim to the state. As of now, Pakistan controls 30% of the region, India controls 60% of the area and the remaining 10% of the state has been occupied by China. Though the acquisition of land in Kashmir continues to this day with Pakistan claiming that whole of Kashmir belongs to them. And then there are the Separatist Kashmiris who demand full independence from India and to have Kashmir as a country of their own.
What they fail to realize is that Kashmir lets go of India, it will literally fall into the Dark Ages i.e chaos and destruction will prevail. And the state will be weaker than before. Ever since the economic integration of Kashmir with India took place, in the past one decade, the state has prospered to an extent. This goes to show that India can prove to be beneficial for Kashmir. However, the Indian central government is partly to blame for the current situation in Kashmir as it has been largely insensitive to the welfare of the state, thus leaving the incumbent state government to deal with the matter themselves.
It is sad to see the natural beauty of Kashmir, that is so rare on the earth, marred by dirty politics, violence and widespread abuse of human rights. For instance, the other day I visited the popular Lal Chowk market only to find the whole market shut down and swarming with BSF jawans. When asked the reason behind the closure of shops, a soldier mentioned about a conflict between the state government and the Separatists. One can only imagine the plight of the traders who suffer business losses and fear for their lives.
It is imperative for the central government to take stock of the situation and ensure that peace is permanently brought to the valley. One way to do so can be done by strengthening the state government and working with the Separatists to reach a consensus or a treaty. In my opinion Kashmir has been and will always be an integral part of India. After all, it is not without reason that Jammu and Kashmir is popularly known as “Heaven on Earth”.