Kashmir — blocked road to Paradise?

July 2, 2009

A few days ago, a friend called to share plans for a week-long holiday. She had convinced her family to take the vacation in Kashmir, the perfect opportunity to escape the scorching heat of New Delhi.

It was a good time to visit the Valley. The uproar over the May 29 Shopian case — in which locals blamed the death and rape of two women on Indian security forces — had died down.

Or so it seemed.

Then my friend called again. She sounded glum and I soon knew why. The trip had been cancelled.

Her family had decided not to risk it. A curfew was in place in parts of Kashmir after security personnel in Baramulla were accused of harassing a woman.

Four protesters had died and scores injured in subsequent protests. Much of the Valley remained shut for a strike called by separatists. The streets were empty and there was little sign of tourists.

In the coming days, there is no doubt that Kashmiris will need to choose between protests and tourism — a major source of income.

Many of the Kashmiris I spoke to seemed upset that frequent protests and strikes were keeping tourists away.

“Earlier, we used to make frequent trips to tourist places like Gulmarg and Pahalgam, once in two days or even twice in one day but now we make one trip in 15 days,” said taxi operator Ghulam Rasool.

Rafique Quadri, a high-ranking state tourism official, said that regular clashes and curfews were affecting tourism in Kashmir.

Even Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has spoken out against the negative effects of such strikes and protests.

“Frequent strikes deprive thousands of people from earning their livelihood,” he told a meeting in Srinagar.

How important is it to Kashmiris for the world to catch a glimpse of what a Mughal emperor once called “Paradise on Earth”? What is their priority - azadi (freedom) or economic gain?

58 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Who cares about the common man? Those who organize the protests are getting paid from abroad? When state police raided the home of one such leader few years ago, they found gold plated diamond studded “Made in Pakistan” watches, Kgs of imported jewelery and thousands of US dollars from his home.

If these rejected leaders are getting paid to make trouble, why not? These leaders can’t even fight an election or get 1000 votes. One such leader who took part in last state elections, got less than 1% vote. And the funny thing is these leaders live under Z-category security provided by India.

So it is wise for these leaders to stay away from votes, create trouble and get rewarded.

But it is for common Kashmiris to decide what have they achieved in last 20-30 years and if they wish to continue in the same path for another 100 years?

State Govt should remove all army and CRPF from city areas to border areas. Local policeprovide within city areas. This way, these leaders won’t have any excuse to start any trouble.

Posted by Tony | Report as abusive

Dear Raashi,

For me, Kashmir has been a dream long unrealized. I have had only come across it in televisions and movies.

I am afraid, i wont be able to explore it, without the fear and doubts of being ripped off.

On a personal note, I also feel for the masses of the valley, who have been left high and dry, with no economic and social impetus to look ahead. The future also seems bleak for our next-generation as far as exploring it, from tourism point of view, is concerned.

Posted by Amit Jain | Report as abusive

‘A blockade road to paradise’. This is truly a very relevant issue and a situation that we all come across in person or hear our friends do, whenever considering visiting valley. But somehow, unlike writer here, most of us conveniently either overlook or may be prefer to live with it. I am sanguine that while tourism holds key to economic state of Kashmir, it is also a reflection of rich culture and heritage of people residing in Valley, which I would say is their identity in itself.

I hail that ‘priorities needs to be redefined’ and also as very precisily brought out by the writer that – others can just highlight but it has to be call of people, normal Kashmiri citizen, who have been suffering for decades, their desire to live, or rather to re-live in proclaimed ‘Jannat’ and share their pride with the world outside .

Posted by Vivek | Report as abusive

Kashmir incites varied opinion in an Indian’s mind. The way the Indian map portrays the state is itself disputed. In such trying times, protests and other similar outbursts of violence do not help matters. It is time that Kashmiris are given the right to lead a normal life.

Posted by Devika Menon | Report as abusive

Hi Raashi
I have never visited the paradise state for the simple reason that my parents just like your friend’s parents from the blog ,my parents did not agree.
(I dont blame them).
It was my parents who visited the valley and that was almost 27 years ago.I have seen almost the whole of our country in all my summer and winter vacation in my childhood but not Kasmir.
This clearly brings out the apprehensions existing in the minds of the people of our country reason being the frequent protests ,blasts and chronic tension in the paradise state of our country.
The people of Kashmir will not be able to achieve a ‘normal living’ unless a differentiation is made between the govt. and protestors.

A very thoughtful piece by Ms. Bhatia. I wish to see such reflectiveness among Kashmiri people too. It is so ironic how a community has preferred to choose the business of setting up graveyards over progress, peace and growth. A self-destructive society that can’t make a distinction between the right and the wrong is doomed. But I hope pieces like this stir some debate in the valley and bring its people some wisdom.

Posted by Singh | Report as abusive

Yet another tactic of our secessionist friends to close any escape routes for the people of the valley to a better future. A friend of mine once remarked that only 3 areas exist for the people of Kashmir to make any living (legal atleast) – tourism, handicarfts and bureacracy. The last is completely corrupt and under the control of the very hypocrites who have called on this strike. Handicrafts is in the hand of the labour exploiters who go around peddling these wares to every corner of the country. And now this to end all hope.

Wonder if we are going closer to our very own Swat situation? I actually hope we are, cause it will atleast wake up the government and elucidate some real response to the insurgency.

Posted by Tadasmi Koul | Report as abusive

From my school days, almost everyday I read the news paper here in South I saw a small section mentioning a terrorist incursion, encounter or a skirmish in which some one, either a jawan or a civilian or a militant died in Kashmir.

- I believe that, as things stand now,

* Kashmir can never be attractive to tourists or any other investment whatsoever.
* This is because,

+ the state is almost full of anti India elements, the freedom fighters.
+ the prorous border has facilitated 20+ years of insurgency and illegal
immigration from across the border. That is, there is a whole generation of
people who are not Indian or anti-India.
+ So any foreign or Indian venture be it, Industrial or civilian will never be accepted
by the residents, let alone blowing up any investment. (I remember an attack on
the All India Radio Station some time back)

* Only way for Kashmir to move out of this situation of frozen development is

+ Be a seperate nation and then develop on their own. In my opinion India should
allow this. This is beneficial for both India and Kashmir. The people who are
Kashmiris are gone long ago and India can save quite a bit by giving this place
independance. For Kashmiris also, after independance they can start building
their lives as they want and thus not blow up things or go on a strike everyday.

+ Or become a part of India and move forward as every other state. This is quite
impossible for Kashmiris as things stand now.

Posted by Krishna | Report as abusive

@ Tadasmi Koul

Dude, your comment is a smasher. You nailed it down. The fact remains a select class in the valley is taking all the win- money, sex and glory. The trash – guns, grenades and stones have been left for the rest.

Posted by Singh | Report as abusive

I had the opportunity to visit kashmir way back in 1988 just before insurgency gripped kashmir.I had been to so many hilly araes like himachal,sikkim,arunachal uttaranchal but kashmir is kashmir.Its unparralell.It is really paradise on earth.There is no such place like gulmarg or pahelgaon in whole of india. We had interaction with many kashmiri muslims as well as kashmiri pundits.Hardly you will find pro indian people amongst the muslim population in the valley .Just like bangladesh or pakistan you have to talk against DELHI to earn popularity,to be appreciated.
When we were appreciating a fascinating wooden structure of a renowned hotel in gulmarg the owner said ” ap ka hindustan mein aisa lakri ka bana huye hotel nehi milega”
So to kashmiri muslims it is aapka hindustan.
The manager of that hotel was a pundit.He narrated the plight of the hindu pandits even before the insurgency started.They were leading a miserable life emotionally before they were hounded out by people like yasin malik (now he is preaching ghandhibad)If they had not left either they would have butchered or would have been compelled to embrace Islam.Have you seen the family union of the pandit families of j&k with that of pok.
None of the relations staying in POK are hindus.
Its basically a problem with the mindset of not only a kashmiri muslim but of any muslim. I stay in west bengal which has 27% muslim population .The day muslim population will be more than 50% you may find a demand for merger with bangladesh.Once you become majority the concept of secularism vanishes.
But we must ensure at any cost that our boundary is not redrawn .Kashmir valley is a part of jammu and kashmir which comprises of places like ladhak,kargil jammu poonch where people are pro indian.Let Kashmir valley be an autunomous state ruled by the kashmiris but not outside India.I think this to be best solution keeping in mind the aspiration of kashmiri muslims and more than 1 billion Indian staying outside the valley.

Posted by kallol mukherjee | Report as abusive

Bravo Raashi!
I feel glum now..
We are truly missing something spectacular..
But I am afraid safety always crops up and the trip never happens.. :(

Posted by Shubhi | Report as abusive

How stupid is it to compare Tourism issue with grave crimes of Human right Violations. If tomorrow your own sister/Mother is abused & murdered will that time you care about tourism.

Author has mixed up two issues and tried to portray Protest as a crime.

Indian media which on every news channel for the last 1 month now is showing news about Indian’s facing racial abuse in Australia, should have first shown grave crimes committed by them in their Occupational Land(Kashmir).But hardly see any news related to it.

Omar Abdullah is just another incompetent puppet of Indian Govt,much like his father.

Posted by S.Yousuf | Report as abusive

@Krishna

In effect, you are arguing that India should make the most difficult political concession of its 60 year constitutional and territorial integrity merely because a community has turned insane and the Pakistani neighbor has launched an even insaner Islamic onslaught on Kashmir and the rest of India. How lame!
And what is the assurance that Pakistan would not invade Kashmir and try to replicate a similar Islamic onslaught in other parts of India. Moreover, how can a state’s future be decided considering the aspirations of only one community. J&K is a diverse state and it must honor the aspirations of the minorities as well.

Posted by Singh | Report as abusive

Ah, what a question! To be pragmatic or to be principled? To compromise on ideals of freedom and self determination, or to starve in principled impotence?

I gather those who are well fed will talk of freedom and justice, and those who are stricken by poverty will think that the biggest injustice they face is the deprivation of a livelihood.

Both are right.

While I have enormous sympathy for the rape of dignity and security that the Kashmiris have suffered, I have little regard for their sentiments regarding separatism. I am a punjabi and I meet pakistani punjabis almost daily in the US and I find that they are EXACTLY like me in every way, except they are muslim. They are more like me than non-punjabi hindus, muslims and sikhs of India are. I see us as being the same people despite their being muslim. Pakistani nationalists and Kashmiris on the other hand see no commonality only the distinction of muslim vs non muslim.

I find the Two nation theory to be practically bogus (based on my interactions with indians and pakistanis), but I can understand that nationalist muslims who don’t want to be counted as part of India would hate me for not appreciating their religion based nationalism.

As such, while I appreciate kashmiris’ anti-india sentiment, I do not respect it nor agree with it. But I am quite aware of the infamy that India has indulged in in its dealings with Kashmir so I would look for New Delhi to give Kashmir complete autonomy as originally promised, and withdrawal of delhi’s meddling. I would like Kashmiris to have their dignity returned to them, and the Indian forces withdrawn so that Kashmiris can go back to their old ways of life.

But, for that to happen, the Kashmiris need for the Pakistanis to come to some accomodation with India because India will not give the Pakistanis anything that would amount to a validation of the two nation theory.

If the Kashmiris don’t understand and choose to keep fighting, they will only keep suffering.

Posted by Harry | Report as abusive

It’s rather only Indian media, which can dare to portray both sides of the story on National Channels and why just that, take local Kashmiri media too. It is only a nation like ours which amidst this conflict can allow local media to both, function as well as voice their opinion freely, even to the international community. Just think, how much did people hear about other conflict zones, where Army didn’t take any chance and just to save on own casualties, bombarded cities ruthlessly even before foot soldiers moved in to clear (a still uncertain) location or presence of militants. I feel it is only our country, where a soldier is asked to confirm identity of a person and ordered not to open fire before he is fired upon, thus in a way asking him to willingly give away his one chance to live.. for what??? only so that there are least collateral damages.

I am not saying that this means atrocities are allowed. I just wish to say that every incident need not be always taken as an intentional agenda against a specific religion or community.Rather, such issues need to be dealt with much patience and according to the law.

I still feel strongly that people in Kashmir do need to draw a line and not between them and India but between their livelihood and such erratic strikes.

Posted by Vivek | Report as abusive

I have lived as part of this conflict since my childhood and I think that we have become crybabies. We do not want to register the change and so are still crying foul over what happened, etc etc. See here is an outsider who can think of a possibility, but still we want to foreclose that too. Why can not we first find solutions to our basic problems, may be our larger gains as a community lies in that. May be it is that we are dissatisfied not because of how outsiders are treating us but only because we are not treating ourselves well enough.I think by tourism she just means one avenue. List is endless.

Posted by Faisal | Report as abusive

good job raashi,
just after the shopian crises i went to kashmir and i was horrified by seeing people suffring who did not have anything to to with these protests. when i was on my way back to srinagar from a nearby town, i also saw kids throwing stones at the policemen, the childern there are so familiar with hartals and curfews that it seems a game for them. i, by seeing this was so hurt the childeren are not growing up in “heaven” but it seems they are growing in hell and there isnt a bright future for them. I don’t think tourists would want to visit a place like that to relax and enjoy..

Posted by a | Report as abusive

A thought provoking article. I was in Kashmir during the Amarnath yatra agitation and I was amazed at how much damage the Hurriyat guys did to the local economy with their daily calls for bandhs and hartals. Fact also was that local people like autowallas, small hotel wallahs, shopkeepers etc were also fed-up but lacked the guts to go against the hurriyat guys. Many of the guys who participated in demos were spoilt sons of the rich who came out of sheer boredom, agitated a bit and then went back to the confines of their homes. I know because one of them was a friend and even told me to watch out for him on the news one night.
But the international media does not cover this aspect and neither do Indian liberals. Thus those who do are branded GOI agents.
But go ahead Rashi and do uncover the truth, Satyameva Jayate!

Posted by Adi | Report as abusive

Kallol
i find it interesting that u would try and say that the problems in kashmir are mainly because of the majority o the population living there are muslim. you sit there and tell us about the plight of the minority pundits in kashmir, yet you fail to realize the plight of ALL the kashmiris living there. for countries like pakistan and india who have the experience and history of living under an occupation, you would think both sides would get their hands off kashmir. India mistreats and discriminates against the muslimms who currently live in india, why are they trying to claim kashmir as theirs? to setup more call centers? and pakistan should keep its hand off kashmir, because they can’t seem to care for their own people or control the extremist, there is no reason or them to have more people killed in suicide bombings. both sides need to keep their hands off kashmir

Posted by Hassan | Report as abusive

@ Singh

Of course. India is more responsible for the current state of Kashmir than Pakistan or anyone else. Complacency in dealing tough with terrorism, border protection etc has taken a heavy toll. Like other readers have pointed out here, the current population do not regard themselves as Indian. I think even after independence India has not learned the importance of protecting its borders. So my point is

* Why keep on hanging to this situation with no progress? Redrawing the border without Kashmir is the only solution. As for any invasion on Kashmir by Pakistan or any one else, it wont be India’s problem because Kashmir demanded independance from India in the first place. It will be their decision. This solution is not lame. With rights, that community will gain responsibility or hold themselves accountable for their situation.

* Chalking Kashmir as a seperate nation will bring peace and both can move forward in their own paths.

* As for India, Should strive to maintain a better border protection, anti insurgency mechanism.

Posted by Krishna | Report as abusive

One of the greatest experiences of my life was visiting Kashmir in 1977, and staying on a houseboat on Dal Lake. We visited the Moghul gardens, Pahalgam, and Yusmarg. The Muslim family who ran the houseboat were gracious and lovely hosts, and helped me through proper diet to overcome in intestinal illness contracted during our travels. I have always wanted to return to Kashmir, but the current cycle of violence makes it too risky.
Why can’t there be a free and open election, overseen by the UN, binding upon all parties, resulting (I would hope) in an independent nation of Jammu/Kashmir, with freedom of (and FROM) religious dominance?

IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT RELEVANT IMPLICATIONS AS HIGHLIGHTED BY THE WRITER ARE PUBLICISED RATHER MORE VIGOROUSLY.
WE AS COUNTRYMEN NEED TO BE ALIVE TO THE REALITY OF HOW SEPARATISTS HIJACK AN ISSUE WITH A VESTED INTEREST.

Posted by VIVEK PURI | Report as abusive

Well written. Unfortunately, I feel the issue has been trivialized, economic gain vis-a-vis freedom, is not the real issue is it? A lot more in depth analysis is required, this is surface level.

Posted by Natasha Puri | Report as abusive

Freedom and economic gain are not frail choices to be offered as options but are serious individual issues that must run parallel as long as life lasts … for it is only when one exists that one talks or fights for one’s aspirations.
The two of them could be interdependant sometimes but never can one be totally sacrificed for the other.
… and so shall it be in the case of Kashmir also – the cyclic movement will go on until the Will of Power earnestly addresses the Will of Masses and offers an acceptable solution.

Posted by roma wani | Report as abusive

Well i think the army personals should have not done so and so.I ain’t a protestant but yes,its very ugly of them to be doing so and so.

Posted by AKSHAR BHAN | Report as abusive

Lawence

You said -Freedom of religion- that’s is the whole issue. In spite of being a part of secular India, religion is the sole basis the demand for a special status made. Hindus were forced out of state of Kashmir and their properties were occupied.

India does not want another talibanised free state in the neighborhood. Free Kashmir is invariably going to become a small failed terror stricken muslim fundamentalist country. Look what has happened with one Afghanistan in Asia, imagine what would happen with 2 of those. Do you call it a Pak army occupation with the army in western Pakistan eliminating the fundamentalist terrorist backed resistance? Any agitation with religion as the sole basis should be thwarted on the planet, may it be in Pakistan , Iran, India, Philippines, or Thailand.

@Krishna,

I appreciate your generosity of feeling. I am for my own part starting to think about what we can give up for the sake of harmony with our south asian brothers, whether the 60 year old thinking on Kashmir doesn’t need a rethink.

However, I am sorry to say that contrary to what you may think, this issue won’t be resolved just by india deciding to acquiesce to Kashmiri demands.

IF you think this is just about Kashmir, you’re wrong. Its about India and Pakistan, and kashmir is merely the excuse. I have to wonder if you appreciate or understand the depth and extent to which India looms in the Pakistani military’s psyche. Pakistan has military coups when civilian governments compromise with India. Civilian leaders looking to save their seats approve Pakistani military sponsored terrorism in India. Every Pakistani military officer is indoctrinated with the notion that Pakistan’s very existence is under threat from India. terrorist organizations have been built up with solid indoctrination about hating India.

You might say its all India’s fault for having grabbed J&K in the first place. You may be right. But the reality is that if India is to make peace on Kashmir, it will need the Pakistani military and jihad complex to end their posture of anti-India hostility and join India in an EU like union with open borders and common markets.

If India is to show flexibility, Pakistan has to respond by showing it will do its part. But it is impossible to believe that the army, after getting kashmir, would and could simply fold up the jihad machine, cut itself down to a reasonable size.

What the pakistani nationalists want is to have no relations or trade with India. THey want to get kashmir, then look west only and not deal with the filthy hindu. They think their future lies with central asia and the middle east, and after aquiring Kashmir, they’ll still need the huge army against India because India will not resist the opportunity to reintegrate pakistan.

Its also difficult to believe that the army would willingly give up its power and authority for the good of Pakistan. It hasn’t done so yet. It is also highly unlikely that the Army would be able to or willing to destroy the likes of the LeT.

India will not and cannot allow pakistan to validate the two nation theory. no matter what.

The only way forward, other than just sitting tight and doing nothing, is for both India and Pakistan to give each other confidence that any compromize and agreement they make not humiliate them regarding their particular stance on the two nation theory.

as long as this remains about the TNT, there will be no peace.

Posted by Harry | Report as abusive

freedom or ecnomic growth,… one has to select between the two…, hey c’mon, u cant be serious….!!!
u know wht the freedom means….
ask those youngsters who has been encountered being innocent…
ask those gals who have been kept inside home, to hide from evil forces….(whther army or terrorists…)
ask those iraqies who almost forgot the silent atmosphere…
ask those afghans whose florrs are filled with blood…
then u compare freedom with economy…!!

After going through the article i went through the comments…I agree with that the situation is sad and some vested intersts are using the common man to fill their pockets…But at the same time its really sad to c that the people of india are so unaware of the historical background of this struggle and think of it as a religion based fight for freedom…Kindly go through some sites and read the complete political history of kashmir and then come and comment over it…
And those of you who think that only muslims live in kashmir and non muslims have been chucked out…kindly update your facts…a sizeable sikh populations has been living as always alongside the muslim population in kashmir thoughout these 20 years…the hindus left by their choice and not by force..somebody’s fear cannot be blamed on someone else…had force been used then sikhs would also hav left but they didn’t hence proves a point…

Posted by haadia | Report as abusive

People in Kashmir deserve to lead a happy and normal life which is not quite possible taking into account the current situation. The only way to make the system aware of the circumstances is if something drastic happens and seeing the way the events are unfolding, I don’t think it’ll be long before the something horrible happens and sadly, it’ll be the people living there who’ll be affected the most…the system will recover quickly.

Posted by Saanya Khanna | Report as abusive

When my family was planning a trip to Kashmir, I was both excited and
doubtful myself. People around added to the apprehension. Despite all
of it, we decided to go. On the first day, at the breakfast table, a
gentleman says, “Kashmir badi sundar jageh hai, bas kabhi kisi jama
bheed ko pareshaan karne ke liye, kuch bachche shararat karke ek-do
grenade phenk dete hain, uske darr se koi aata nahi hai.” That
statement did not do what it was meant to do! My grandfather, enjoying
VIP status, had security. At first it came as a slight relief but the
place seemed perfectly normal and didn’t require commandos waiting at
every door you’re about to enter!

Spending time in Kashmir, while interacting with unknown women who
invited us over for some tea/kahwa, we were told “Humare sir pe
hamesha hi bandook taani hoti hai, fauji ho ya jehadi.” I realized
how they had got used to being victimized. Its not limited to the
terrorist or a few young boys who lose their ways, it goes beyond all
that. Kashmir is a major tourist attraction, but only a few of us want
to go there. We want to shout slogans but not want to be there with
them. I felt sad to see that the people there were more excited to
show (and see) bullet holes in a building at Laal Chowk and the bridge
on the lake from where Shashi Kapoor jumped off while shooting than
the beautiful creations of the medieval times that have historic
value. The beauty and the history are losing their value to bullets
and bollywood!

Posted by RS | Report as abusive

i appreciate ur concern for the people of kashmir.but there are more graver concerns and the mindset of the people which need to be addressed.way to go lady..all the best.

Posted by abhishek | Report as abusive

Hi ,

No one leaves their home by choice . This is a misconception . And what facts are u refering to.When a person comes to your house and keeps you on the gun point and tells you to leave within 24 hrs , then I dont think this should be called a “CHOICE”. What about the fact that thousand of non muslims had to leave Kashmir only to stay in the tents in 40 Celcius which they were never used to . Hundreds of non Muslims died becoz of sun stroke . This is not called “CHOICE” my friend.

Posted by Vijay | Report as abusive

first mujeeb says ‘ask those youngsters who has been encountered being innocent… ask those gals who have been kept inside home, to hide from evil forces….(whther army or terrorists…)’

then haadia says ‘somebody’s fear cannot be blamed on someone else’

notice the pattern? i dont wanna guess wher u guys are from but your logic kinda proves it.

i wonder if a day will come when the kashmir will simply remain a matter of whose propaganda exercise is stronger and all logic will go down the drain

Posted by Tadasmi Koul | Report as abusive

*Kashmir Issue

sry ppl!

Posted by Tadasmi Koul | Report as abusive

“Kashmiri awam” is just the illiterate victims of vested intrest of separatists. This time also sepratists and main stream political party PDP, which lost in assembly tries to get political gain of this sad rape case.
Another reason is that sepratists n PDP dont want Amarnath yatra to happen. This is the main reason. Otherwise it is not proved yet that security persons have done this heinous crime. I strongly believe that this can also be done by the terrorists and localities as well. I condemn this act n i demand severe action to be taken against the culprits.

@haadia

are the sikhs safe in kashmir?

it was nice to see that u asked us to go study more bout the history of kashmir. well tell us bout this thing called the massacre of chattisinghpura. i heard some ‘freedon fighters’ killed 36 sikhs in one night in a village near anantnag.

isnt that part of kashmir’s history? or did maulvi saab tell u that it was indian agents dressed as pathans who did it?

Posted by Vinay | Report as abusive

I have always wanted to travel to Kashmir, for its a beautiful place and as expected i havent had the chance to due to the hysteria that builds for potential threats and risks to life there. I never really understood as to why are we letting the tourism and the chance for J&K to endorse its beauty over something that should be bravely fought against. Its time that we push back our own fears.

Posted by Shiralie | Report as abusive

If Kashmiris cannot make use of the democratic process in Kashmir and proudly say here is the CM who speaks for the state and its people, self determination is a distant dream.

Talking about childeren throwing stones at policem, does it not indicate how sure these stone pelleting crowd is that cops are not going to shoot them. When Chinese troops kill Muslim Uighurs, it is by hundreds and one does not know how it happened. They tell the world what they want to tell and cut off internet. When an Israeli is killed 100times more palestinians are killed. There is nothing that is stopping Indian troops from doing that. But that is not happening yet and the kind of news that comes out is Kashmiris protest since Indian trops harrass Kashmiri woman. That happens all over the world, do people start protests? Where the hell are the Kashmiris leaders who can regulate the Kashmiris to advise them not to overdo the protests since this weapons loses the edge, economic loss happens—protest unless it is really essential to protest (like Shopian incident).

Unless the movement is disciplined the success will be short lived.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

hats off to ur feelings,yes,strikes are really deadlyand haveturned kashmir a hell.common man is dying everyday and leaders are acumilating the capital.blood is cheaper then water now,strikes are a routine now causing disasterous effects and mob mentality has spread like anything,stones are pelt on issues not known to people,they dn’t know why are they pelting stones and what are they striving for.the boon of our economy -tourism has been badly affected and hartals have been routinezed.common kashmiri is entangled in the web of terror and anomie.

hats off to ur feelings,yes,strikes are really deadlyand have turned kashmir a hell.common man is dying everyday and leaders are acumilating the capital.blood is cheaper then water now,strikes are a routine now causing disasterous effects and mob mentality has spread like anything,stones are pelt on issues not known to people,they dn\’t know why are they pelting stones and what are they striving for.the boon of our economy -tourism has been badly affected and hartals have been routinezed.common kashmiri is entangled in the web of terror and anomie).the continuous mob clashes with security personnal and with out any understanding of even the duties of the police to nab the culprits involved in various crimes like kidnapping ,etc.it is non-sense to raise protests even for thiefs and kidnappers and beliving every body claiming molestation by police and others.now most of us even try to blackmail police if our criminals are not released.instead of going to the court we send our women to police stations to fight with police personnel.this defeats the actual goal of protests,people especially youth with their eyes shut and with out any conciousness come immediately on roads and start violent activities.fighting for azaadi and honour of our women folk is good but protesting against police against their duty to check crime is a big folly and a big sign of vulgarity.mob mentality is most unfrotunate attitude and has been mistook as collective consciousness in this part of the globe.on the other hand it is nurtured and justified by our defeated intellectuals in their writings and speeches.times have turned sensitive ,so our youth need to be objective,reSONABLRE AND rational in their behavior.it is the mob mentality which isdepriving our young buds of studies and killing mercilessly hundreds of patients every day.we need a serious rethink.
SYED ADFAR RASHID.
SCHOLAR OF SOCIOLOGY,
UNIVERSITY OF KASHMIR.
adfer.syed@gmail.com

@ vinay
Your words prove what i said–yes there was a massacre of sikhs(not known till date who did it)in chittisinghpura…but tell me
1) did the rest of the sikh population leave their homes in kashmir becoz of the resultant fear,becoz of feeling unsafe??—”no they didnt”–why??becoz someone who has lived there for these 20 years whether muslim or non muslim understands the inside stories of such incidents.
2) Do you think how many of the innocent muslim population(civilians who have nothing do with terrorists) have died during these 20 years–did their families leave kashmir??–no they didnt??

@ Vijay
Do you know how many times muslims of kashmir have been kept at gun point both by terrorists and by security forces–one said let us stay for the night or die and the other said where have you hidden them ,what connections do you have..tell us or die—but inspite of all this muslims never left kashmir,their home—why??probably they wanted to die they in and day out or probably they loved their homeland–
i would suggest you guya read the book “Curfewed Nights” …then you’ll come to know what innocent civilians in kashmir have gone through all these years.

Posted by Haadia | Report as abusive

Atleast the Kashmiris are not killing anyone anymore for azadi. What is wrong in strikes and protests which are peaceful? Maybe this might just help them get azadi and liberate the Kashmiris from India’s misery.

@Krishna

Anyone who holds India as a bigger culprit than Pakistan for Kashmir’s current state of affairs is clearly not capable of scholarly debate over the issue. The stand is also indicative of your naivete about the challenge violent insurgencies pose to a state. If the allusion is that India should have emulated Israel or Sri Lanka to counter terrorism in Kashmir, then you obviously as an Indian do not appreciate that India’s response in Kashmir has not been ruthless tyranny. What Kashmiris suffer as compared to Palestinians and Tamils is almost a naught. India had the choice to kill all the separatists, who have been sympathizers of terrorists, but it did not make that choice. You might want to contemplate how it benefits India. Just to oversimplify it for you, I will mention it very briefly here. It is not complacency towards terrorism, it is the good sense of what is right and wrong for a state and its people. India sees rationality in not wiping out every single would-be terrorist or a sympathizer of terrorists because every estranged group or community has a right to differ, protest non-violently and seek one’s demands. In summation, India does not see Kashmir merely as a military problem. It also sees it as a political issue. That is why the multi-lateral approach which you call complacency.
Now about your highly visionary (pun intended) solution of redrawing borders. One would have to hold a plebiscite to know what all communities of J&K actually aspire for. Unless that happens the demand for independence shall remain a farcical demand because no one knows what percentage of J&K actually wants independence. It might turn out that only a handful of Kashmiri-speaking valley- based people want independence as the last two consecutive elections have indicated. So the loud propaganda for independence should not be construed as the only problem or solution of Kashmir.

Posted by Singh | Report as abusive

Raashi,
U have been to Kashmir before. In fact, ur family share an emotional connection with Kashmir. And I think that emotional touch is reflected in ur this piece. Nevertheless, I must felicitate u fr remaining pragmatic while narrating about a place which u love. I hope ur office will send u to kashmir for special reports, coz u have a good understanding of the issues here.
-Pervez

Posted by pervez | Report as abusive

@Atleast the Kashmiris are not killing anyone anymore for azadi. What is wrong in strikes and protests which are peaceful? Maybe this might just help them get azadi and liberate the Kashmiris from India’s misery.”
- Posted by Basant P Tolani

-Basant P Tolani, Haadia and all Kashmiris, who expressed the same feelings: When kashmiris feel that Indian troops have done some wrong, there are strikes and protests. Now haadia, you said Kashmiris felt the squeeze from terrorists also as much as they felt from security. So when was the last time or anytime a protest/strike has occurred against Terrorists who do that. Or is it that no one has the guts to do that? I guess Kashmiris will not throw stones at a terrorist with an AK-47—just for the fear of death.

If Kashmiris want so-called “Azadi”, what is their rational of not protesting against Pakistan—-because a miniscule # of pro-Pak elements will kill those who protest. My point is that Kashmiris need to realize that they are part of the most unintelligent, unidimensional, non-creative movement with no leader in sight and whosoever is labeled Indian agent. On the side, Haadia and the likes of Kashmiris must quit this so sure anti-Hindu attitude oozing out of their words. So much for ur Kashmiriyat!!!

It takes nothing to pick and throw the stones and these youths. I agree with SYED ADFAR RASHID’s line of thought.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

@ rajeev,
first of all let me be very clear that i as a person and the kashmiris in general do not have an anti hindu attitude–kindly do not try to give my words a religious colouration–”read todays online TOI and u’ll knw how kashmiris are takng care of a hindu temple in pahalgam”–is this anti hindu attitude??
The only thing i am tryng to tell people in this forum is that Kashmiris are also suffering day in and day out for no fault of theirs..So for God sake try to understand the fact that the issue is so politically complicated that even if the people of kashmir want they cannot get out of this mess of a situation…So kindly shed this anti kashmiri attitude and stop this blame game..It’s a sad situation to see such hatred brewing against the people of kashmir–
Secondly,protests are always against the system and the government of which one is a part never against the enemy without a face–you would not disagree to the fact that terrorists for all of us are without a face-An unknown enemy–this applies not only for kashmir but for the whole world –if their is a terror attack at any place do the people protest against the terrorist who did it or against the government which failed to protect them(e.g.,Mr.Shivraj Patil’s resignation as the home minister aftr the mumbai attacks)
Additionally I would like to tell you that the terrorists in kashmir generally fight against the security forces and do less direct harm to the civilians(though their is the indirect one thru blasts etc)but the forces on the other hand inflict direct harm and injuries to the people(eg.,the recent rape & muder of two women in shopian,the killing of a 20 yr boy in custody today etc etc) and hence the protests against them and the government.

Posted by Haadia | Report as abusive

@ Rajeev
Thanks for raising this issue. Yes I am also wondering as to why Kashmiris are not talking about this issue. None of my acquaintance from Kashmir ever mentions this. Why aren’t there protests against the terrorist?

I was reading in the Daily Times of Pakistan today that during retired federal secretaries meeting Asif Ali Zardari admitted that Pakistan created and nurtured militancy as a state policy for short term tactical gains. There should be protests in Kashmir against this as there are protests against state policies of India. I urge my friends in Kashmir to raise slogans against Pakistan for killing the innocents. I will whole heartedly support these protests.

@Haadia
I totally agree with you that people in Mumbai protested against the government and protests are people’s tools of resistance. I also come from Mumbai and I was part of the protests. But we were protesting against the government for not performing their duties efficiently and protecting us from the terrorists. You should also protest to JK government for not protecting you from terrorists. They might be faceless but your duty is to protest. So protest loudly for the world to hear.

Posted by basant p. tolani | Report as abusive

Haadia ,Syed Afdar
Did you ever follow the path of secularism and do you respect kashmiri hindus, buddists and sikhs with whom you have been historically entwined. Kahmiris come to US and follow the law and lead respectable lives among christians. In India they don’t want to adopt a path of inclusive modernization and worse try to accomplish security in seclusion. Sikhs and hindus were lined up and killed in cold blood, what prevented you to take out processions against the ghastly killings.

Being the muslim majority state its your responsibility to protect minority. Do you think minority persecution is happening without complicity of others (other than terrorists). Do you think the same animals are incapable of raping and killing women in order to escalate violence and hatred against security forces? Kashmiri people, with their elected government can better themselves with hard work. Both in India and Pakistan disparity is visible from on state/province to other. Abrogation of article 370 would have facilitated industrial expansion in to the valley paving way for more jobs and prosperity. Isolation leads to backwardness, period. Take the example of FATA and Waziristan, which are not only poor but are also now getting bombed.
First convince yourselves and then others that you have achieved a level of maturity to run the affairs with evenhandedness in governance and deliverance of justice to all. Autonomy now, mind you, will quickly degenerate into theocracy leading to Talibanization or similar movement, whereupon stone age laws will be enforced. Then protective umbrella of Indian Union will not be there, India will have to watch helplessly the dilapidation of Kashmir like that of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Refugee influx will be monumental. All the democracy loving Kashmiri leaders will relocate to other parts of India leaving the unscrupulous hate mongers to rule over you. Cannot paint a rosy picture, Iam afraid.

Dear Rashi

Excellent. Your write up desrve kudos.
Keep it up.

Basharat

Posted by Syed Basharat | Report as abusive

I have always wanted to visit Kashmir but the dark cloud of terrorism and separatist violence has kept me away.

I am no one to judge whether human rights violations are taking place in Kashmir or whether a misplaced nationalistic zeal is worsening the situation.

All I know is that violence is not the solution. Unless the local government and the populace get down to brass tacks and hammer out a solution, albeit peacefully, Kashmir will remain a global hotspot in the years to come.

If the dream of a utopian Kashmir does come true, this beautiful ‘Paradise on Earth’ tops my list of places of visit before I die.

Posted by Toe Knee | Report as abusive

To all of you who profess peace…

If you really claim to be who you are, Protest against the Atrocities that are happening in Kashmir and Kashmir along with the Kashmiri will be yours.

-Latif

As a woman I strongly condemn the gruesome rape and murder of the two women in Shopian. It is as ugly and heinous as the gangrape, molestation and humiliation of women who suffer grave human rights violation across the country.

However what happened in Kashmir after the crime was committed is also not acceptable. Politicization of women’s body, sexuality and honour is equally despicable as the act of rape and murder, perhaps even more. For it deprives a society of its cultural values and ethics.

Government has to deliver justice and it has to be seen to be delivering justice. People, civil society and media should come up with creative ways to address issues and for redressal. Taking to violence on the streets, stoking and fueling religious sentiments will only lead to more crime, deaths and breakdown.

Posted by Archana | Report as abusive

Do whatever you want you will never win the hearts of kashmiri people.We have given blood for our land and we will never compromise on it.We will fight till we get freedom from the Indian Occupational rule.Mark my words Freedom!!!

Posted by S.Yousuf | Report as abusive

Kashmir is a beautiful place. I have always wanted to visit Kashmir but the dark cloud of terrorism and separatist violence has kept me away

Hi Rashi.Whosoever has anything to do emotionally with Kashmir will speak about it. No one has done justice to it. The short sighted approach is responsible for the miseries it is facing. The people are the only hope. Only their prudence and far sightedness can bring respite to them. Good job Rashi!

Posted by rajan | Report as abusive

dear ma’am

conflicts no matter where ever they are bring with them violence,hatred and atrocities towards the weaker sections of community. be it a chechen or a columbian or an iraqi or a tamil or for that matter kashmir the story is same only the casting changes.
now the better part is that only way towards betterment is PEACE.So all the soldiers and mujahids give peace a chance.by gods grace we in kashmir are much better off.lets join our hands togather and thank the gracious god for what we have .no one can doubt that things have improved and that too for good.
kashmir will never get independence. It would be utopian to have a land locked country with no industries and this would surely lead to anarchy as we have seen elsewhere (Af-Pak).
I donot agree with the indian political approach and that includes my dear friends “HURRIYAT”.Education ,employmentand empowerment by means of ballot and rule of law should continue. my best wishes to Mr O Abdullah.No solution of kashmir can be complete without the kashmiri hindus and sikhs who have been displaced.

The writer has done an excellent work although has emotionally drifted away from the core issue ,But this is my personal view.it was nice to be here……

Posted by ankush | Report as abusive

I love kashmir.I would like to go there soon.

Posted by AKSHAR | Report as abusive