Youth, and the future of Kashmir

The news of a Kashmiri boy qualifying for the Indian Foreign Service is indeed heartening. Similar achievements of Kashmiri men and women in field of academics, sports, acting, fine arts, technology is very encouraging

The windows were smashed and then the door was forced open. The sports & gym equipment was damaged beyond repairs and the library books were torn. Finally the wooden building was set ablaze and in no time it started to crumble to the ground. This was the building of Youth Centre which till yesterday had seen joyful moments. It was a place of great interest for young people. Boys played table tennis, badminton, chess & carom here merrily till late evening and those fond of books used the library enthusiastically. Ironically, people who burnt down the Youth Centre included some boys who were regular visitors there. Distressing episode…. but equally sad was the reason behind the bizarre incident. It came out that some radicals accused that the Youth Centre was ‘corrupting’ the minds of young men and it was against the Kashmiri culture. Imagine, library, indoor and outdoor games…..are things against Kashmiri culture?? And people got convinced with that logic? Weird but true. In Kashmir, radicals know that people can be rallied to do the unexpected on being convinced that a particular thing was against Kashmiri culture and sometimes they are given a dictate to this affect. Cinema halls, beauty parlours, cafeterias and video libraries were closed down in the late eighties on this logic as if before that Kashmiris were not following their own culture. But is apple trade too against Kashmiri culture? Should not be! But then why do terrorists burn apple orchards & trucks carrying apples? Why do they intimidate and extort apple traders? Also, why do they oppose organizing of sports events? Why do they throw grenades in markets from where people buy bread for their children? It clearly comes out that “anything that makes the Awam happy” is opposed by radicals and terrorists. Why do they do so? They do so because normalcy in Kashmir is doom for them.
They have to keep Kashmir disturbed. Pakistan based terrorist leaders want Kashmir to remain in the stone age; a strict society where you cannot enjoy life….where there will be a fear of being attacked with acid if you do not wear Hijab…..where girls are not allowed to act, sing, dance or even ride two wheelers. These rules are for Kashmiris but interestingly, ISI will not enforce these in Lahore or Islamabad where modern values and gender freedom is encouraged…. where cinema halls, beauty parlours and restaurants run in full steam. Then, why is Kashmir a test bed for archaic societal rules, gender bias and regressive lifestyle? And why do Kashmiris accept it?

ISI sold the fake dream of Azaadi in late nineties however; it soon became clear that it actually aimed for merger of Kashmir into Pakistan. So, while the definition of Azaadi changed the radicals were somehow able to keep this vague idea alive……idea of some “allusive azaadi” whereafter there will be no problems…when everyone will become rich…when there will be no police or security forces…..when one will be able to cut trees at will…when electricity and water will be free of cost….where people will be fed free of cost in their homes during winters….where Muslims will ‘live happily thereafter’. These are the dreams that were sold to Kashmiris and the older generation will vouch that such falsehood was actually propagated. And resultantly, a secular, inclusive society that had Kashmiriyat as its guiding beacon turned into a muddle where young men are brainwashed to kill their unsuspecting fellow Kashmiris.
Coming back to the Youth Centre; did people burn it because it was against the perceived sense of Azaadi? Or because it had the power to convince young people that things are still fine and you can enjoy life “even now”? Or was it diverting the attention of young men from the path of naivety to the road to peace and practicality?

The news of a Kashmiri boy qualifying for the Indian Foreign Service is indeed heartening. Similar achievements of Kashmiri men and women in field of academics, sports, acting, fine arts, technology is very encouraging. These young people have been able to see through the falsehood of the Azaadi dream. They have understood that the idea of Azaadi being sold by radicals is a mirage. They have understood that they are still “Azaad enough” to pursue their dreams. They have not postponed the pursuance of their dreams on false promise of azaadi….they have not given up hard work on the excuse of terrorism.

We have to move on. We have to encourage our children to chase their dreams. What the elders discuss at home has a profound effect on our children. Let us talk of peace and life at homes. Enough killings have taken place…enough blood has flown down the Jhelum……let us have peace now…let us condemn violence.

Courtesy : Nilesh kunwar

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