As I try to reflect on the life in the Kashmir valley, I am inevitably drawn to the images of its serene snow covered peaks, clear waters of Dal, its distinct delicious cuisines, the tenderness of Pashmina shawls. The valley has a lot to offer in terms of its culture and landscape. Today, besides offering so much, it is paying a heavy price too. The life in the valley is marked by insecurity and violence. The once all-pervading serenity has been superseded by turbulence which has hit life to its very core.
One reason that holds the root to its problems is the partition of India. It is a historical fact that at the time of Partition, Kashmir was being ruled by a Hindu king named Maharaj Hari Singh who signed the Instrument of Accession in 1947, fully ratified by the constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir, thereby, declaring Kashmir to be a part of the Republic of India. Pakistan insists that the Maharaj in question, was a tyrant and did not represent the voice of the people of Kashmir. Given that majority of the population were Muslims, it holds that the land should be with Pakistan rather than its archrival and hence, the conflict in the valley which has shown no signs of subsiding, courtesy the uncooperative nature of our beloved neighbours.
The key issue, here, is definitely not the war of nations but the life of the people which has been jeopardized due to the upsurge in militancy leading to merciless bloodshed. Do the people of Kashmir, caught in the timeless conflict, have no right to live with peace and dignity? How long are they going to continue with their struggle for a peaceful existence? How many more lives shall be taken away in the name of jihad and the fight against it?
There is a visible political misunderstanding which can be amicably settled by bi-lateral talks or mediation rather than taking up the arms that causes nothing short of a catastrophe. There needs to be concerted effort on part of both the governments to restore normalcy and to ensure their war of words is not translated into blood of the innocent people. Human rights agencies should regularly monitor the region to check for any lapse or discrepancy. The problem of terrorism should also be severely dealt with. Even the demand for a separate state can be negotiated through affirmative dialogue.
India has done a good job by conducting fair elections in the valley in 2008 which saw a reasonably good voter turnout. The message if not obvious, is hint enough that the people are all for democracy and national integration as also pointed out by our prime minister, Manmohan Singh. Now it is the government's responsibility to set an example of good governance which alleviates poverty, encourages literacy and employment opportunities and maintains law and order, thereby, leading to development and social peace.
The situation, currently, is far from being satisfactory. The bigger the upheaval, the more time it takes to bring things back to normal. Efforts are definitely on and it is hoped that in times to come, these efforts shall be expedited and shall start showing results which we all have been waiting for. Kashmir, the paradise on earth, shall see life flower, foster and flourish till eternity.