Thursday, January 7, 2010

Kashmir: A land of great ironies

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The West says if there is one place on earth from where the Third World War could begin, it is the beautiful valley of Kashmir. Such tags of volatility of brutality attached to a place about which the great Mughal emperor Shah Jahan had once said “Agar Firdous Bar Roi Zamanast Tho, Haminasto, Haminasto, Haminasto" (If there is ever a paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here). But Kashmir has been a land of ironies for the past two decades. It is an irony that all world leaders and diplomats know the beautiful Kashmir like the back of their hand for all the wrong reasons.

It is ironical that the terrorists attack in Lal Chowk area of Srinagar came on a day when J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah declared 2010 to be a 'Visit Kashmir Year.' The fundamentalists could not have dealt the state's tourism any better blow. Just days before this J&K police chief had figures to prove that violence in the valley in 2009 had been lowest in the last two decades since the conflict started. But statistics and figures don't always reveal the ground situation. However, it is no irony that the militants chose to target Srinagar's most famous landmark the Lal Chowk. After all a trouble territory tag serves many vested interests both within the nation and outside it.

Incidents like this questions the regular demand for troop reduction and even question the presence of such a huge number of security forces. Although militancy has been curbed to a certain extent but Kashmir still remains the most troubled territory in the country. Even though our neighbour on the west bleeds at the hands of the self created 'Frankenstein monster' it's support to infiltration of terrorists remains undeterred. It also seems highly ironical that Pakistan still hasn't gotten over its obsession with Kashmir even though every inch of its territory has been painted with stains of blood in the last few years.

Kashmir valley which was once the most favoured destination for the honeymooners and travellers wanting to escape tropical heat of the plains is the most common posting for an armed force personal today. The Chinar trees have given way to police and army pickets and Dal's beauty has be ruined by the barbed wires. There is anguish among certain groups of people towards the government but majority of Kashmiris seem to have become tired of violence. The irony however is even a minute law and order incident is enough to bring people to the streets and halt normal life in the valley for days.

The biggest irony of all is that the entire idea of 'Kashmiriat' seems to have gone for a toss. Ordinary Kashmiri people are sandwiched between the separatists, the moderates, the government and it's biggest instrument the military. Another irony is that all these groups claim to represent the people of Kashmir but ask any ordinary Kashmiri his conviction may be as varied as the shades of grey. Somewhere in all these irony 'Paradise on Earth' is dying a slow death. Wonder if there will come a time when someone will again stand up and say “Agar Firdous Bar Roi Zamanast Tho, Haminasto, Haminasto, Haminasto”


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