Kashmir is finally showing signs of normalcy after two months. Restrictions have largely been lifted. Most of the arrested politicians have been released. Those, who are still in captivity are being allowed to meet with their family and friends. More importantly, tourists are now being allowed to visit Kashmir. Centre is hopeful that if the situation remains like this it will not take long to make the ‘Haven of Earth’ free from terrorism. Peace will definitely make a comeback.
We have heard plenty of allegations and counter-allegations since Government of India decided to withdraw special status i.e. Article 370 from Kashmir. Under this very Article of Indian constitution, Kashmir used to enjoy some privileges. Furthermore, the Centre decided to downgrade the status of Jammu and Kashmir to a Union Territory, though it was a state of the Indian Union since it joined India. Another change was made by separating Ladakh into a separate Union territory, taking it out from the state of Jammu and Kashmir. While the present government claimed all these steps were taken to make Kashmir terror-free, the critics warned that these steps might be suicidal as those would further alienate the Kashmiri people from India.
It is not the time to judge who is right and who is wrong. The fact remains that a sense of alienation from India is felt not only in Kashmir, but is also visible in many other parts of our country. Freedom fighters from the Northeast never got their dues in Independent India. The Northeasterners who sacrificed their lives in various wars that India fought after gaining Independence were willfully forgotten. Development never reached the region in true sense, though our leaders promised to bring the region at par with the mainland states in terms of development several times. It goes to the credit of the people of Northeast that despite such neglect, the people are still solidly with India and waiting for years to redress their genuine grievances through discussion.
So for anyone who has struggled to cope with this sense of alienation it is not difficult to understand the plight of the common Kashmiri people who want to live peacefully. The Centre definitely have a blueprint for making Kashmir terror-free. But at the same time it should do everything possible to erase the prevailing sense of alienation from the minds of Kashmiri people. It must be understood that if Kashmir is an integral part of India, the Kashmiris are Indians too. So the people driven by so called nationalist sentiments are attacking the Kashmiris living in other parts of India should be dealt with firmly. Kashmiri people have every right to visit any place in India without fear or restriction. The decision taken by the centre on Kashmir is purely political and administrative in nature. We should not allow the decision to create a permanent rift between the Kashmiris and the mainland.
In such a situation, it is the primary duty of all Indians to stand firmly with the Kashmiri people. The Kashmiri people are facing hard days as few with vested interests are instigating violence in Kashmir. It is for the government to deal with those forces. On our part what we can do best is to bring the Kashmiris closer to us so that they don’t feel down by the current situation. This is the time to send a loud and clear message to everyone that we are wholeheartedly with the people of Kashmir who want to live a life of respect and peace.