Aaj Woh Kashmir Hai Mehkoom-O- Majboor –O- Faqeer

                                   Kal Jise Ahl-E- Nazar Khete Thay Iran-E- Sagheer. Sir Allama Iqbal

Kashmir has witnessed a cataclysmic change in the last couple of years. The political conditions and other allied things are responsible for the same. David Devdas in his book “The Generation of Rage in Kashmir” points out that 2008, 2010, and 2016 are the three important points in the recent history in Kashmir. Kashmir used to attract tourists both National and International because of its majestic and mesmerizing natural beauty, its peaceful, serene and secure socio- political atmosphere.  Historians and   travelogue writers have used many epithets to describe it. Someone has called it a Paradise on Earth, Someone the Switzerland of India.  Sir Allama Iqbal called it Iran- E- Sagheer (The little Iran).  Josef Korbel in his book “Danger in Kashmir” called Kashmir ‘…a garden of eternal spring, a delightful flower bed, and a heart-expanding heritage for dervishes’. But these epithets, sobriquets and praise have lost their sheen and significance because of untoward and horrible political atmosphere which we have been experiencing from many years.

Kashmir used to be the usual hangout for Bollywood actors. Many classical Bollywood films have their settings in Kashmir. ‘Kashmir Ki Kali’ starring Shami Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore is set in here. Those were the days when Kashmir used to be an attraction for film stars. But at present hardly any celebrity wishes to be here. People from all over the world   used to ease the humdrum of their lives here in Kashmir. But unfortunately at present Kashmir in itself has been turned into place of fear and dread. The utopian Kashmir has changed into a dystopian place of the sort. The valley has literally been changed into “Orwellian Oceania”. The ‘Pardise on Earth’ epithet has been replaced by the linguistic descriptives like: The Land of Half Mothers, The Land of Disappeared Persons, The Land of Pellet Blinded People, The Land of Unrest, The Land of Curfew, and The Land of continuous Lockdown. Who is responsible for this? The answer is obvious and understood. The regional political parties alongside the Central establishment are jointly responsible for the mutilation of the place. The regional political parties have always betrayed and hoodwinked the innocent people of the valley with their false and dishonest promises. The political leaders from both Sheikh and Mufti clan and their associated political stooges have always maimed and inflicted the innocent people of the valley through their selfish motives and ends. The two biggest regional political parties “National Conference” and “PDP” have done a lot of damage to the valley and its people. The history bears testimony to the fact.  Betrayal started when Maharaja Hari singh agreed to accede to the Dominion of India in 1947. He signed the document only for three things: Defense, Communication, and External Affairs. But instead of safeguarding the valley, the rulers started the colonization of the State. The Indira- Sheikh Accord of 1975 and all the accords following it, have all been nullified on the fateful 5th August 2019 when Article 370 was abrogated by the Central govt. without any regard for the Document of Accession or any accord. The State was bifurcated into two Union Territories forcibly.  Regional politicians who used to sing the songs of the Centre were imprisoned. Now it might have dawned on them what it is to betray the people, what it is to use oppressive laws against the innocent masses! Prior to the abrogation of the Article, the politicians of the valley used to befool people through their political rhetoric and chicanery. But now their bubble has bursted and they are brazenly lamenting about it.

The abrogation of Article 370 and the installment of new domicile law in the valley are meant to change the demographic structure. Every decision with related to the valley is taken by the majoritarian establishment in an imperialistic manner. Kashmir is a kind of colony at present. The massive establishment of military bunkers and all that in the valley tells us so. The people of the valley are tortured by the forces on unreasonable pretexts.  Many people are dying in jails for the crimes that they have not committed.

Kashmir is no longer what it used to be. The politics of hate coupled with the politics of greed has disfigured the valley.  Last year, when the abrogation plan of the Article 370 was on cards, the State government issued an advisory to the tourists for leaving the State citing security reasons and apprehension of terrorist attack. The then governor was falsely telling the people not to believe rumors about the Article abrogation. His coaxing proved to be false and dishonest later.  At that time tourism season was at its peak. Amaranth Yatra was going on. The government let the cat among the pigeons by the announcement of advisory to tourists and yatries.  This gave a permanent jolt to the tourism of Kashmir. Tourists, I apprehend, will no longer dare to visit the valley again.

Kashmir and Kashmiris have always been oppressed through Ideological and Status apparatuses. Kashmiris have been made to believe about the things falsely. Both State and Central government machinery is responsible for the same. Kashmir no longer attracts tourists. In the past tourists from all over the world would visit Kashmir but now because of the frequent hartal and curfew imposed by the government has dwindled the number in the count of the tourists. Kashmiris have been made to adapt themselves with curfew, Internet blockade etc.

Kashmir was once an ivory tower for the tourists, but now it has been turned into a dystopian political space.  Mountains of the valley are still mesmerizing, waterfalls are still bewitching and natural beauty is still enchanting. But people have lost the serenity because of the conflictive political atmosphere. Some of the tourist places in the valley that used to be the major attractions for the tourists have been captured by the forces. Nobody dares to visit such places now for the fear of their lives. This is how the Hamiltonian Shangrila has been transformed into the valley of the absolute ruin and dread!

Postscript: They make a desolation and call it peace. Agha Shahid Ali

Bilal Ahmad Dar, Research Scholar, AMU.

Email: bilalbismil89@gmail.com


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