Millennium Post

Defining 'normal'

Defining normal

The Army Chief assures that there is normalcy in Kashmir. Kashmir and normalcy, however, have been at near loggerheads since as recently as the '90s. The leftover of the Partition, the state of Jammu and Kashmir has lived and grown in a stagnated manner, limited by its "special status" which the Narendra Modi-led BJP government scrapped in a very bold move on August 5. 54 days since the turn-around, the situation is reported to be normal as the nation looks forward to what normal would mean in a Kashmir without the formal, name-sake cover of Article 370 which granted it a special status. The fact that people are moving around, going about their work is interpreted as normalcy for the time being, making a claim that normal life has not been affected in Jammu and Kashmir is one to invoke an entire gamut of thoughts from political to social to personal. In a region already riddled with conflict and political mess, one might argue that "normalcy" is not a matter to restore but one to bring in altogether. In a place where peace is fleeting, normalcy has long been a far-fetched notion. As per the government, the mark of normalcy is that people freely move around. On a closer look, a more normal normalcy is when children go to school and economic activities go on as usual—this includes tourism, in a time and space when outsiders feel safe to visit. Given this, normalcy in terms of common perception is still a distance away.

With respect to the status maintained by the military, evidence has been put forth to justify the claims of normalcy: brick kilns functioning normally, trucks transporting sand, shops open—life in the Valley is supposedly normal. But as the restrictions imposed by the government is lifted in phases, another picture of a debatable normalcy emerges: regular life being crippled and the continued disruption of routine in the wake of clampdown since August 5. Kashmir has been a place that redefines normal due to a set of factors. Making way for a new order, however, is not the kind of normal that is expected in Kashmir, but if there is anything that could ease the situation now, it is not insisting on normalcy but stability that must be striven for.

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