by UNITED JAMMU By Dr. Jitendra Singh
Another summer. Another season of tourists. Another impending influx of Amarnath pilgrims. Another month of official and semiofficial meetings as ministers, parliament members and bureaucrats alike seek to escape from the soaring heat of plains by managing excuse of a ‘‘business’’ in the Valley.
It is a familiar June in Kashmir...witnessed year after year for the last few years but this certainly not is a June of the pre-militancy era prior to the watershed year of 1989.
The nature's cycle continues to move with unfazed commitment enlivening the Vale of paradise with spring, summer and golden autumn year after year notwithstanding the din of gun shots or the smoke of unruly blasts. And, though the level of militancy has remarkably gone done during the last few years and enthusiastic tourists are seen in queues outside popular eat points, what one misses is an unguarded Shikara ride past midnight or the sight of one of your popular film stars casually shooting a romantic song on the Buleauvard. For, at the back of mind, everyone is always quietly conscious about the lurking possibility of a sudden cross-fire or an unforeseen shutdown over a sundry ‘‘Hartal’’ call.
It has been exactly 20 years since the first shot was fired to announce to the world that Kashmir, hitherto known for its peaceful demeanour and docile hospitality, had been taken over by militancy in the holy name of ‘‘Azaadi’’ or ‘‘liberty’’ or ‘‘realisation of genuine aspirations’’ or whatever you call it. Militancy and ‘‘Azaadi’’ fervour may have declined over the recent years but not enough to inspire a gala return of Bollywood or, for example, reopening of the HMT factory.
The above predicament owes an answer from the protagonists of Kashmir, whether they call themselves ‘‘separatists’’ or ‘‘non-separatists’’. These self-styled crusaders on the one hand feel flattered by Kashmiri youth like Faisal making it to the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) and are simultaneously not averse to Kashmiri youth accepting financial and moral patronage from Pakistan. This is a classical case of having the cake and eating to too by getting the better of both New Delhi as well as Islamabad.
While an ordinary Kashmiri youth continues to pay the price for this unsettled scenario without perhaps even realising what he is inadvertantly missing out, an ordinary tourist on a visit from outside finds everything magnificent about the natural splendour of Kashmir and yet finds something missing. Umapathy sums it up with a Faiz expression ‘‘.....Ajab Andaaz Mein Ab Ke Bahaar Guzri Hai !’’