New shoots sprout forth on Chinar (Poplar) trees that have become bare due to snowfall in the Kashmir Valley. By the end of this month, they will be conscious again. Are Kashmir and Kashmiriat going to get the same kind of revival? Before answering this question, I would like to introduce you to some of the young people who have met my family as a regular tourist over the past seven days.
The first is Tawsif Majeed. I found this young man in the town of Tangmarg in Baramulla district, which is considered strong for terrorism. He said he had given the BCA exam and was preparing for MCA admission. Furthermore, he wants to be a part of the Indian Civil Service. Why and how? He read the feeling of surprise in my eyes. “Many people in Kashmir have passed this test in the last 10 years. I hope I will be able to make my family proud through my hard work,” he responded.
By the time I left that place, there was hope and joy in my mind. Young people with dreams make the world better.
Two days later as we were passing through Pahalgam the feeling of hope strengthened. From our car, we noticed a sign saying ‘Punjabi Vaishno Dhaba, Pure Vegetarian’. For two days, we were tired of eating the same meal. So, Punjabi food is a boon for vegetarians like us. This is the only empty table that is small, but clean Dhaba Waiting for us. While the four of us were discussing the items on the menu, a young woman came and asked us in plain English, “Sir, I hope you have chosen your meal. What can I serve? “In this small town we did not mind such a beautiful manner. I asked her name when paying the bill after a delicious meal.” Gurupriya, “she replied.” We are Kashmiri Sikhs Dhaba My father opened it. I have been running it for the last few years. “Like the famous highway restaurant chains like Haveli and Chokhi Dhani, she wants to expand this business, to give everyone a taste of the good food and warmth of Kashmiri hospitality. Gurupriya said she runs a similar restaurant near her uncle.
Back in the car, I could not help myself to believe that I had come here after 18 years and that if I had to come back after so many years, maybe this young woman could fulfill her dreams.
While wandering in the Kashmir Valley, I noticed a lot of new hotels, wide roads and growing businesses, some signs of the future. However, it is not correct to say that everything has returned to normal. Some people still have feelings of dissatisfaction and alienation. Radical elements are still promoting such sentiments.
On the afternoon of March 29, while I was talking to Gurupriya, terrorists fired bullets at a member of the Block Development Council and his security personnel outside the municipal office at Sopore in Baramulla district. On April 1, on our way back to Srinagar, a Bharatiya Janata Party activist was attacked in Naugam and one of his security personnel was killed.
According to the Institute for Conflict Management, 321 people were killed in 140 terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir last year. The number included 33 civilians, 56 security personnel and 232 militants. This clearly shows that the maximum damage to terrorists is being done in the war on terror. One reason not to be greatly disturbed after the repeal of Article 370 is the effective work of the security forces.
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha is well aware that in order to establish peace in the valley, he has to win the hearts of Kashmiris. This is the same reason he meets citizens on a particular day of the week. This meeting will be attended by all the superiors and the problems of the people will be resolved immediately. He has set up a complaint box in every panchayat and a Black Day event is held every Wednesday to address the problems of the people.
As a result of direct communication, many students queued for scholarships. During the last financial year, 800,000 students were given scholarships under various schemes. As of December 2020, 950,000 applications had been received. It also illustrates Tawsif’s faith in the Tang Marg.
Government employee Mohammad Amin is very happy with the speedy implementation of the railway project connecting Srinagar with Jammu. He opined that when the train between Delhi and Srinagar was available, it would be easier for children to get higher education and jobs. He said that although money had already flowed from New Delhi to Delhi, this was the first time it had been used effectively.
The young entrepreneur who returned to Srinagar after completing his MBA course in London decided to build a hotel with the encouragement of better infrastructure.
“People can say anything, but we’re hopeful again years later. If I do not have confidence, why do I want to make such a big investment?” He said, adding that almost all the major hotels in Srinagar are showing full occupancy this holiday season. What he said is true.
I will return to the old question. Will Kashmir dreams have a chance to blossom once again like the famous Chinar? It is my opinion that we should not be ashamed of this great expectation.
Shashi Shekhar Editor-in-Chief, Hindustan. The views expressed are personal.