“I write to you for I must

Not as a tragic hero or scapegoat

Or one tribal outcast as poets must

But as one with the burden of truth

Though in your possession are truths

And versions of truth many

That best serves the modern conveniences…

Spend years a troublous life and you can’t flee

You’ll get nothing. Proven.

Dreaded dreams, tortured vision, torn and broken bodies

And faces disfigured with immeasurable grief

All but have left us withered, spinning

Our fatal passion. Look and see if

My speech is a worthless gift to you.”

—- A Kashmiri poet

It is common knowledge that Kashmir, which used to be referred to as India’s Paradise once, has been reduced to a hotbed of war and violence now. While we sit at home commenting on the situation in the comfort of our drawing rooms, there are people who have forgotten the meaning of ‘normalcy’ since decades altogether.

Problems began back in 1947 during the partition of India when Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of Kashmir, refused to accede to either India or Pakistan. However, after the infiltration of Pakistan into the valley at the dead of the night, the Maharaja, to save his territory, was forced to accede to India after being promised help to drive out the Pakistani troops. India, on the other hand, had promised a plebiscite in Kashmir after the Pakistani troops withdrew. That never really happened because the Pakistani troops never withdrew completely and today they have a share of what is called the PoK or Azaad Kashmir.

One of the main reasons why the Kashmir issue continues to torment the country is that today ot has become more of an ego issue. The land has become much more important than the people of Kashmir.

It’s easy to blame the young boys shouting slogans of azaadi today. However, do we ever stop to think what we would have done had we been denied regular education or if one had about 60% chances of being killed in a clash while he is out on the streets to perform a daily errand? I wouldn’t say whose fault it is because neither am I aware of all the facts nor is the issue simple enough to be divided into black and white. However, the truth is that children have been the worst victims of the unrest in Kashmir. Thousands have been killed and injured. The ones who were lucky enough to survive have been traumatised for life.

Strangely, the great beauty of India’s most spectacular state only reinforces the depth of its relentless suffering. The undulating hills, the luminous blue of the sky, the water turning to green translucent ice on the Dal Lake, the poetry of the chinar’s changing colours- all this splendour makes the absence of tranquillity more poignant. The horror of militancy on the one hand and the monumental mistakes and violations by the state on the other has left many ordinary Kashmiris imprisoned between the battle lines.

We often hear ministers stating how Kashmir is an ‘integral part of India’ and this gives a charming boost to our hyper-nationalist souls. Yes, Kashmir is a part of India. But why treat Kashmiris differently then? Is Kashmir just a piece of land? Why has the world’s largest democracy forgotten to grant basic rights to the people it calls her own? Politicians are fighting and civilians and soldiers are dying as a result.

When people talk about human rights in Kashmir, what we tend to forget is that soldiers are human beings too and they have the same rights as civilians. They don’t kill by will. Like pellet guns have killed and impaired thousands in the Valley, stones and terrorist sponsored separatism have killed and injured the security forces too.

It’s time we realize that Kashmir is not a People vs Army thing. They are just being used as scapegoats. After all, when the coffin comes home, the father of the teenage boy killed by a tear-gas shell fired by security forces and the father of a young soldier pumped with bullets by terrorists- share the same feeling of loss and heartbreak.

As someone had very correctly pointed out, the only solution lies not in parenting but in handholding. The Kashmiris are our own people. Dialogue is the only solution. What we need to do is hear them out and also try to make them understand our point of view. What we really need to do is, ‘give peace a chance’.

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