KASHMIR – THE LOST PARADISE

Paradise, a place where the senses get soothed, where people go for aesthetic pleasures and to calm their mind, body, heart & soul; a place that is known to bring in positive energies and discard the negative ones. Many people here ask me, “How do you feel like coming from such a beautiful place?” I am always dumbfounded by that question. Is Kashmir really paradise? This reminds me of the verses of a great Persian poet,

“Gar Firdous ro’ez Zaminast, Amiast, amiast, amiast”

(If there is paradise on Earth, It is this, it is this, it is this)

Not just this, you will find great mentions of Kashmir and its beauty in various other literatures. Kashmir, really, is ‘jannat’. Or at least it was.

I love ‘my’ Kashmir. I didn’t however have the privilege of having taken birth there. But that is a talk for another time. Kashmir is known for its scenic beauty and aesthetic charms. The green meadows, the flower-filled gardens, the shade of the ‘Chinar’, the snow-capped mountains standing tall; I can never miss the feel of it. Every season paints a different picture on the beautiful canvas of nature, that is, Kashmir. If I wasn’t stuck here doing Engineering, boy-o-boy I would’ve given anything to be there till my dying day.

But the beauty of Kashmir became its greatest curse. Rulers, kings & nations fought among themselves to acquire this peace-loving piece of land. And the present scenario is not hidden from anyone. Terror prevails throughout Kashmir. People are afraid even to talk about it. “Tsk, tsk. You are from Kashmir? What is it like? Hey, have you seen terrorists? is the first question people ask me when they come to know about my ethnicity. I again go unanswered. These questions challenge my love for my motherland. Am I really from a frightful place? And does it really matter? That’s the irony of it. I can’t hate it even though it has been corrupted. Corrupted, yes.

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It all begins with the division of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. You see, what the British did there. They knew what they were doing would forever keep us enslaved (to terror of course). They were clever, indeed. Anyways, in 1947, the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir was ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh, a Dogra King. After the partition, two nations emerged, one with a Hindu majority, i.e., India & other with a Muslim majority, i.e., Pakistan. At that time, the Maharaja signed a pact that led to the annexation of Kashmir & the whole of J&K to India. Pakistan was against it, clearly because of the Muslim-majority of Kashmir. Since then, Pakistan has been trying to send its missionaries in the form of terrorists to India in order to promote cross-border terrorism. Kashmir has seen this violence for almost 67 years. I myself can name more than a dozen terrorist organisations that I remember seeing in the news since I was a kid. Lashkar-e-Toeba, Hizbul-Mujahedeen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Al-Qaeda and there are lots of others, and all having roots in Pakistan & Afghanistan. The time when both the nations became independent, became the time of despair for Kashmir and its people, and since then, they are crying for their freedom.

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Many-a-times, the terrorist groups have waded wars over Kashmir straightaway. Not only the terrorists, the Pakistani & the Afghan army have given them huge support by providing arms & ammunitions. The Afghan War of 1989 & the Indo-Pakistani wars of 1947, 1965 & 1999 (Kargil War) have given enough proof in this context. And as if the despair of people of Kashmir was not enough, Mr. China joins in the game. With improved weaponry, they fought & won the Sino-Indian war of 1962 over the lands of Aksai-Chin, thus annexing a large part of Ladakh region of J&K. The fact that they are trying to do it again these days worries me more.

The only reason for Kashmir becoming a terror-struck place it now is, is that it had been ignored, left out. Government didn’t do anything that was right in that regard. But not anymore. The people of Kashmir are crying and they are crying for support. Support, that only people living in other parts can provide. People ‘here’ only can understand people ‘there’. Let us all lend our help to the disbanded piece of land that once was held in great esteem. Let us bring back the glory to our nation by restoring its crown jewel, by highlighting its cultural authenticity and considering it a part of our country; and by definitely NOT considering it as a lost cause. Let us make India whole again.

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