Millennium Post

Paradise lost

Paradise lost
Once routinely depicted in Bollywood movies with its snow-clad mountains and lush pine forests; Kashmir today is depicted only as a grim reminder of the lives lost in war, stories rendered voiceless under the shudders of the bullets and families bereft of dear ones, all silently laid to rest in paradise, that is now lost. Undoubtedly, Kashmir has been India's biggest failure. Whether it is an instance of Pakistan impinging into our territory, manipulating young minds, or pushing in illegal weapons to disrupt the sanctity of the Valley—it has been the utter failure of India, which must bow its head down to the civilians of the North. The guardian to the citizens, the State has failed to cocoon its children. Since 1990 alone, 41,000 lives have been lost in Kashmir. This number is only on official records, without a doubt, there are thousands more that have been killed, whose remains have been swept under the pristine snow, erasing the possibility of memory or memoir. While we blame the government of its failure, we cannot shrug away the fact that Kashmir has been a difficult issue. First on the instance of religious polarisation—while Pakistan proclaims itself to be Islamic, India is secular. Second, the terrain of Kashmir is difficult, the rugged mountains complicate the possibility of perfectly manning all borders, some of which is physically challenging. Third, Kashmiris even now, feel alienated from mainland India which is gradually becoming a Hindu majority state. And lastly, our neighbours have kept a careful watch on Kashmir, launching attacks whenever presented with a scope and attempting to disrupt the harmony that marks the Valley—more than often their attempts have been successful. When Mehbooba Mufti calls out to protect the civilians, freeing a dove and emphasising that killing militants will not be the solution to peace in the valley—she could not have been more accurate. The spear holders who today carry on terror activities in the Valley, progressing militancy on orders from a high command, are mere pawns. They are sent to complete the task under the assumption that they might be killed. Therefore, killing them does little to hamper radical minds. It is a discourse, a social conditioning that is allowing for the undeterred growth and proliferation of militancy in the Valley. Earlier, Pakistan posited the only perceivable threat; but now, we have advocates from the Valley, Indians who are wishfully picking up the gun, sacrificing their life, in the belief that their state hasn't been nourished by India. What led to this hatred? Years of Nehruvian Socialism failed to socially mobilise the Kashmiris. They are still drudging in poverty, with limited access to resources, education and employment. Families who have been cattle herders since 1960, continue to still walk their sheep on the pastures of the mountains, there has been little social elevation. Compare this to mainland India, where an ordinary tea-seller grasped the opportunity to occupy the highest chair in the country. This apparent disparity is irksome. Kashmir hasn't borne the fruits of development that the rest of India has. This, fuelled by manipulative heads of Pakistan who are urging naïve minds to enter the battleground, provides the perfect breeding ground for homemade terrorists, who with little knowledge and a heart full of vengeance are prepared to demolish India, barely fearing the consequences of such malice. Today, wherever we are, we have been the only vehicles of our journey. No doubt Pakistan is to blame, but it is our deficiency that we have allowed Pakistan to make inroads this successfully. Thousands have been killed—civilians, armed forces and terrorists. Families are homeless, washed out of the Valley, neighbours have turned enemies, and women still spend sleepless nights waiting for their husbands to return— unaware if he is still breathing or has already breathed his last. To uplift ourselves from this pitiful condition where a large proportion of our fellow citizens are battling terror and poverty, the government must focus all its intentions towards benefitting Kashmir. 70-years of failure in policymaking cannot be undone in a day. The current government has been taking steps in the right direction by appointing DGP SP Vaid to govern the Kashmir situation. We need to exercise utmost empathy and care towards our fellow citizens. They have picked up the gun because the prevalent conditioning has deterred their motives and manipulation has altered their rationalisation. Killing militants will simply fuel further fury, providing the scope for more naïve minds to be manipulated by the terror mongers freely supplied from Pakistan (without GST). We have an advantage in bearing complete knowledge of our enemy, and we must navigate this advantage to our benefit—to preserve our country and protect the innocent lives of Kashmir. A few generations in the Valley have already been deprived of a wholesome life; we cannot afford to let that escalate anymore. Remember, karma comes back.
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