The Chinar (poplar) trees in the Kashmir Valley, which had been bare due to snowfall, have begun to sprout new shoots. They will be revitalised by the end of the month. Would Kashmir and Kashmiriyat see a similar revival? Before I address this question, I’d like to introduce you to some of the young people I’ve met as a tourist with my family over the last seven days.
Tausif Majid is the first. This young man was discovered in Tangmarg, Baramulla district, which is considered a terrorist stronghold. He told me that he had passed the BCA exam and was currently studying for the MCA entrance exam. In addition, he wishes to join the Indian civil service. Why and how did this happen? He read the sense of surprise in my eyes.“In Kashmir, many people have passed this examination in the last ten years. Hopefully, through my hard work, I will be able to make my family proud as well,” he replied.
My mind was filled with hope and joy by the time I left the place. Young people with aspirations make the world a better place.
We passed through Pahalgam two days later, and the feeling of hope grew stronger. We saw a sign that read: ‘Punjabi Vaishno Dhaba, pure vegetarian’ from our car. We’d had enough of consuming the same meal for two days. As a result, Punjabi food was a boon for vegetarians like us. We were greeted by the only empty table in this small but clean dhaba. “Sir, hope you have chosen your meal,” a young woman said in fluent English as the four of us were debating the menu items. “Can you tell me what I can serve?” In this small town, we were not expecting such grace. I asked her name while paying the bill after a delicious meal. “Gurupriya,” she replied. “We are Kashmiri Sikhs. This dhaba was opened by my father. I have been running it for the last few years.”She wants to expand this business, just like popular highway restaurant chains such as Haveli and Chokhi Dhani, to give everyone a taste of the good food and warmth of Kashmiri hospitality. Gurupriya claims that her uncle owns a similar restaurant in the area.
Back in the car, I couldn’t help but think that I’d only been here for 18 years, and if I had to come back after that long, maybe this young woman would have realised her dreams.
I saw a number of new hotels, large roads, and expanding businesses while wandering around the Kashmir Valley, all signs of a promising future.
However, it would be an illusion to suggest that everything had returned to normal. Dissatisfaction and alienation are still present in certain people’s minds. Such feelings are also promoted by radical elements.
Terrorists were firing bullets at a member of the Block Development Council and his security personnel outside the municipal office in Sopore, Baramulla district, while I was speaking with Gurupriya on the afternoon of March 29. A Bharatiya Janata Party worker was attacked in Nowgam on April 1, as we were re-entering Srinagar, and one of his security personnel was killed.
Last year, 321 people died in 140 terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, according to the Institute for Conflict Management. There are 33 civilians, 56 security forces, and 232 terrorists among the victims.It simply proves that the terrorists are suffering the greatest amount of harm in the war on terror. One explanation for the lack of significant disturbances following the repeal of Article 370 is the security forces’ effective working.
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha understands that in order to bring peace to the Valley, he must first capture the hearts and minds of Kashmiris.
This is why he meets with constituents on specific days of the week.During this meeting, all senior officials are present, and the people’s concerns are immediately resolved. Every panchayat now has a complaint box, and every Wednesday, a Block Day programme is held to solve people’s problems.
Many students have lined up for scholarships as a result of the direct contact. During the previous fiscal year, 800,000 students received scholarships through different programmes. 950,000 applications were submitted until December 2020. This also explains Tausif’s faith in Tangmarg.
A government employee, Mohammad Amin, was overjoyed that the railway project linking Srinagar to Jammu is moving forward quickly. He claims that once the train between Delhi and Srinagar is operational, children will have easier access to higher education and employment opportunities. While money from New Delhi has flowed in the past, he claims that this is the first time it is being used effectively.
Encouraged by the improved infrastructure, a young entrepreneur who returned to Srinagar after completing his MBA course in London has decided to build a hotel.
“People can claim whatever they want, but we are hopeful for the first time in years. Why would I consider such a large investment if I didn’t have confidence?” He went on to say that during the holiday season, almost all of Srinagar’s major hotels are fully booked. He was absolutely right.
Let me return to the original question. Will Kashmir’s dreams, like the famous Chinar, be able to bloom once more this time? This noble expectation, I believe, should not be avoided.
From some news agency