How do I feel about Kashmir

My mum and Dad went for their honeymoon to Kashmir- I see those pictures often and wish for one day when I can safely visit Kashmir and experience its pristine world. And feel the magic called Kashmir for myself

As a school going girl I remember a Kashmiri gentleman visiting us 3-4months in a year, every year, (being peak winter months in Kashmir) to sell things uniquely Kashmiri- we’d love to rummage through the colorful warm shawls, stoles, ornate jewelry boxes in paper-mâché, mufflers, shoes, embroidered bed spreads, and what not! We used to love speaking with him for his genteelness and unique Hindi accent- he was full of warmth despite walking for hours in the sun trying to make a sale happen. The only thing he would ever ask for was a cold glass of water when he’d reach our doorstep- and then on drinking the water he would regale us with stories about the people of Kashmir, the shikaras, the Dal lake, the children, the weather - his janat

And today his vatan Kashmir is simmering for the nth time. With curfew imposed in Srinagar, Baramulla, Anantnag and Sopore, the angry stone-pelters are in stand off mode, even in hiding till the army retracts. Tourism is slipping and sliding, children’s education and examinations are indefinitely postponed.

For how long one wonders will the valley take this beating, this abuse, this injustice? Is it the fault of the people in the valley that they are Muslims? Or the fault of those who are Hindu Brahmins and still surviving? The question that begs an answer is what will it take and when we will see peace return to the valley? When will that state truly return to becoming a paradise on earth again?

It is not “peace” that ordinary people want; they stress they want a “resolution” to the Kashmir question. They want development and jobs, yes, but they also want a political solution. These are not mutually exclusive. Sitting far removed from Kashmir’s existential problems I wonder why have we since decades now, not resolved Kashmir? Does it suit the many governments of India to allow the pot boiler to simmer? Who are the interested parties that are benefiting the most by dragging this dispute for ever and this long?

The power struggle is beating the local Kashmiri further into his/her grave. They are mired in problems of everyday existence and to top it a political, social and cultural binder that has shackled them so badly they do not know any way out other than rebellion and open confrontations. What is the issue behind Kashmir’s pot boiler? Maybe I am being naive -but to me it is an issue of weak or no governance. As long as individual coffers are getting filled, as long as individual motivations are being accomplished, nobody cares for what happens to the locals there.

I honestly don’t give a rats ass about what Nehru agreed to at Partition time or what Jinnah did or the divisionsit Brits did! What is the current Government in India doing to resolve Kashmir TODAY? Bring out the army? Will peace be restored thus? What are the long term goals and what is the strategy to achieve it for Kashmir?

Do the people of Kashmir have a forum to air their grievances? Do they have a mechanism to address their problems? Maybe if there were enough college or university debates, youth bodies that could influence, National harmony makers from varied streams of life from Bombay, Delhi, Aurangabad or Jaisalmer who could interact with the Kashmiris and bring about an osmosis - we may still have a chance to restore peace and harmony back in the state

Kashmir is a proud state. Lets not break its back to such a state that we cripple it forever. That it can never stand on its 2 feet again. We living outside Kashmir want to feel as proud about our cities as Kashmiris do about Kashmir. I miss my Kashmiri friend from childhood - I miss his easy warmth, his open welcoming smile, his undying spirit which I see reflected in a zillion of us too- weather beaten hands and feet that never stop for tiredness but only to greet a customer or help pick up another’s basket to put it on the head and walk on towards the next sale. I sincerely want to see peace and equanimity restored to Kashmir. I wish Kashmir safety and wellness soon.


Shvetal said...

What is happening in Kashmir today is very sad. No doubt about that. But frankly, who is bothered about it? The poor people of the state can go to hell, who cares. These politicians are interested infact in keeping the situation as it is or worse as that gives them a chance to fill their pockets and ask for votes. The seperatists get funds for this, the tax payers money goes down the drain trying to pay for the expenses of military and police operations. But who cares. The only solution t my mind is possible only if there is a firm head of state there who can tell the center to go take a walk, control the situation on ground, and show progress and developement.

Ishrat said...

When I was 12 and visited Kashmir with my parents, our hosts walked us through their estate filled with willow trees. They proudly said these trees were used to make cricket bats, all of which were exported. When I asked to which countries, they beamed " India and Pakistan...!" That totally innocent exchange, summed up in my young mind what the Kashmir 'problem' is all about. After many decades, I still find the real answer to the Kashmir situation is not in New Delhi or in Islamabad. It is in the hearts of every Kashmiri person. The real Kashmiri does not want be an Indian or a Pakistani, he wants to be Kashmiri, in the most pristine sense of the word. No more than an Afghan wants to become a Pakistani just because he is a Muslim, his religion has nothing do with his demand for self-rule. Algeria, Morocco, Cote'd Ivoire and scores of french colonies did not fight for liberation because they were 100% Muslim. They fought because of their pride in being a nation. The real Kashmiri longs for his vatan Kashmir to be independent and free from all "foreign occupiers" with the same fervour that Shahid Bhagat Singh longed for India to be free from British rule. One man's martyr is another man's terrorist as was the term used by the British against Sukhdev and Rajguru and every Shahid going back to the first mutiny at Meerut in 1857. It took India close to 90 years to achieve their independence, Kashmir has a few more to go...but they will prevail. And only then will true peace come to this "...paradise on earth".

sanjiv said...

Lovely post Mee. Lots of money is being pumped in by seperatists to keep the fires burning in Kashmir. The state continues to die a slow death while the politicians, and all disruptive forces are the real reason why normalcy cannot return to the valley. The elected govt has no business holding power there if they do not know how to govern the state!

sheila said...

Why are the politicians of the valley not coming out on the streets and talking to the communities to restore peace? Perhaps they are scared they might get stoned themselves and get killed for their
Inefficiencies! The politicians are squarely responsible for this negligence

ashish said...

Political modeling from New Delhi has to stop! Congress party at the centre is so blinker eyed that they are trying to force their hand on a column of iron which refuses to bend to their will! Politically the trouble makers need to be put away. Geelani and his cohorts shld be nailed. And the seperatists need to be captured and incarcerated! Then tell me we will not see peace return back in Kashmir?!?

Jim said...

Who are the real trouble makers in Kashmir? To my simple thinking mind it is those that take money and use innocence as collateral damage! These are the paid agents of trouble, these are the devils from hell who do not care for Kashmir being strong and independant. Why does the govt become soft on these. Violence seeders? Pls someone put this incompetent political party out of their jobs and allow free rein to kashmir!

Shekhar Kapur said...

very nice post and what beautiful pictures ! shekhar

Mee said...

@Ishrat: First off I think Kashmir needs to choose better leaders and negotiate better and more peacefully. I feel their current set of leaders are not fighting for Kashmir!

Deaths of innocent civilians, burning of national flags, pelting stones on armed forces and calling it war and then expecting to win against state machinery is not the resolution to this, it cannot be.

Talking is; to my mind the only way to sort differences. Its easier to resolve differences in friendship than when the pot is boiling with negative emotions. If Kashmir can find effective and committed representation among themselves - the talks will lead to a fairer democratic obtaining of “freedom”,

However if Kashmir continues to play both sides then there is no guarantee that common innocent people will not sink into being slaves of another dictator, this time of their own making perhaps.

To my mind Kashmir could learn from history to proceed strategically. Else there could come a day when they may not have no one but themselves to blame.

Attaining “freedom” through armed struggle is quite fancy and all, but one needs calm, peace and balance in life -a warm kitchen that can offer good food, earnings for sustenance and a promise of a safe prosperous future - the lack of these can become crippling for existence - if one continues to be a ping pong ball depending on which way the wind blows.

BY all means Kashmir must fight for its pride, for its freedom, food and economy, but carefully in a measured way to not get carried away by the individual separatist groups that are fighting for power for their own selfish motives - for then there is a good chance that Kashmir may settle yet again for dictatorship leaving the common masses slaved for centuries again.

So I wonder if it will be a sell out, or if it will be a focused attempt at regaining pride?

I earnestly sometimes feel we would be a happier planet without self willed, motivated, cruel politicians!

Aijaz Ahmed Pitafi said...

Very Sensitive and volatile issue! Our Armies are engaged there for over 60 years and we are still back to square one. Much of our budgetary allocations go waste in bloodshed and destruction which would have been otherwise spent for making the region more pristine and beautiful.

Solution? Sincerity of three parties Pak-India-Kashmir and their strong will to resolve.

Just imagine! If it were not a disputed area, we had visa restriction removed long ago, and I could drive in my car across Wagah-Atari to enjoy dinner with my family in a restaurant in Amritsar and returning back late night. A family living in Ferozpur could do the same by visiting Kasur or someone coming from Jammu to Sialkot, and so on. This is what is happening in Europe.

Let's pray and hope that peace comes through in our lives.

Just being on lighter side: the second picture from top shows Lake Saif-ul-Maluk in Naran Valley, Pakistan.

Mee said...

@Shwetal - yep I think so too.But the million dollar question is which leader? An Indian? A Pakistani? Or a Kashmiri?:)

@Sanjiv, Sheila, Ash Jimmy- such burning questions, such an infuriating situation and such sadness that it is not being resolved:(

@Shekhar- Wow!thankyou:) from the God of great blog writing this is indeed praise:)

@Aijaz - such waste to no avail, what a sad situation we are in:(
Your imagination made me feel somewhat more positive. I am sure there will come a day when we shall see peace prevail. I hope it happens this lifetime tho. Thanks for pointing out Lake Saif-ul-Maluk in Naran Valley, its gorgeous:)

muse said...

You seem to be utterly saddened ...I feel helpless and tend to shut off situations that I know I can't intervene and influence. Wish the political will could make a difference not just in Kashmir but in the East as well

Payal said...

Amen to that! Ive always wanted to visit the place and its sad that so many of us are forced to stay away because of whats happening. And for such a beautiful state the ruins of today must be heartbreaking. Your snippet about the Kashmiri man selling his wares reminded about this really famous story by Tagore called Kabuliwalah. Read it?

Sahil Sharma said...

the questions you have raised are correct.
selfishness to avail political benefits out of the current situation is indeed a worrisome aspect of kashmir problem

RavneetSingh said...

I saw a BBC debate on Kashmir a few days ago and the section that was most disturbing was on the youth of Kashmir. One audience member said: “We live in a society where people who riot are the same people who want jobs in government. We are the same young people who work in the private sector in India. We are the same young people who support the Pakistan cricket team and we also cast votes. In the face of all these different identities, we can’t seem to decide which identity we want.” Speaks of the confusion of the next generation. Sad. This is the stage they need wisdom, guidance and counseling. Good intent must shine through. That way we can restore peace back in Kashmir.

Mee said...

@Muse- indeed true:( most often cannot understand the strife:(

@Payal- I remember that movie sketchily from childhood, has Balraj Sahni right? I remember it to be b./w. remember him bringing toys for a child, he dies in the end?:( I remember being very sad after that seeing that movie:(

@Sahil- lets hope for a peaceful solution soon

@RS-most worrying for sure:(

Imtiaz Hami said...

I believe in what Mani Shankar Iyar said recently, Lets think from our Hearts and not our Heads for a change for Kashmir and we are bound to find a solution.

I had been to kashmir with my familiy way back in 2004 and after 6 years, whenever I see anything related to Kashmir, I miss it so badly.

Neeraj said...

The entire Kashmir issue is a religious one. India should NEVER give up Kashmir as it will promptly be taken over by Pakis/Taliban/terrorists and turned into a Sharia Islamic state. I don't think anyone will disagree on this.

As it is, independence will not improve the lives of its people. Afghanistan too was independent before the war started and we all know what Taliban was doing there.

If Kashmir is given independence then India will have 2 "Pakistans" instead of one! And honestly, do the people of Kashmir really want Kashmir to become a shithole place like Pakistan? I hope not.

Unfortunately, it doesn't matter what the people of Kashmir want, the only solution is for India to never give up claim on Kashmir. It will be the biggest mistake if it does.

We don't live in a perfect world and that's just the way it is. I wish for peace in Kashmir too, but the reality is it's never going to happen. It's sad but true.

Mee said...

@Imtiaz Hami-Politics can never be about the heart. And if Mani Shankar or any other politician are saying that it is mere lip service. KAshmir people need to be given jobs and development and prosperity-and peace may just have a chance to prevail

@Neeraj- thanks for dropping by. For the Indian Govt letting go of Kashmir is out of question too I'd guess. It would matter most if the Govt could parallely think of policies and schemes that would enhance life in Kashmir so that the aam aadmi has the next morning to look fwd to