Kashmir: An ill-fated Paradise in Search of Freedom (Thoughts initiated by Khadija Motorwala. Written by Farhaan Sheikh)

Beauty is often considered to be one of the greatest gifts of Almighty. However, the mesmerizing visual appeal of this precious aspect can often overshadow the dark layers binding the creation in pain and poignancy. As a writer I have this habit of finding inspiration in sources present all around me and create something of my own, characters. Recently I was sketching this unique character in my mind- an extremely beautiful girl having a heart filled with purity, molded with the passion of embracing every aspect of life and destiny. Sounds like a nearly perfect individual we always wish to be around. This girl enchanted my mind as I kept crafting the positive traits like eloquence, empathy, patience and liveliness to build her startling personality, neglecting the agonizing suffering within her physical body. My character was not really simple and perfect as it was struggling with oppression within her body. The heart though pure, is filled with blue blood flowing through the polluted veins, a kidney jeopardized in its functions to support health and legs nearly paralyzed in turn causing severe physical disability. After coming up with the final creation I glimpsed at it with inexplicable grief expressed in a single pretentious smile. While understanding the pain of this bright young life, I wondered that all this suppression is due to its internal system rather than any external accident or cause. No other living soul ever harmed the girl but they never cared about her livelihood as well, rather kept admiring her immense beauty. The world for this young girl is flat; there is no sense of acceptance awaiting her because the internal organs themselves have caused enough damage.

In India, every year we celebrate festivals and show pride in coexistence of the diverse cultures and communities inhabiting this mother land for centuries. Observe the country map closely, and you see the majestic starting point of this distinct territory of South east Asia, the evergreen Kashmir. This northern state covered in serene body of snow is unarguably a testament to the wonders of nature far beyond the human imagination. I recently visited Kashmir as a part of an interactive workshop for the communities residing there. My experience takes us a step closer to the psychology of people living in the midst of political and social conflicts.I observed how each day people turn up by 10:40am when the workshop is always scheduled at 9am, crossing several hurdles on their way to reach every step closer to the destination. I was not surprised with the late arrival of the residents but how, for all kinds of unfinished work, they put the blame on the situation they live in. Every undone action is attributed to the excuse of living in uncertainty. The aftermath of political interests has resulted in people devoid of integrity and work ethics. On the brighter side,I was thoroughly mesmerized by theexceptional hospitality of the Kashmiri residents which will enrich your tourist experience and keep you away from any form of military interference throughout. Although great with treating guests, these people surprisingly have no interaction within their own societies in fear of meeting a dangerous terrorist or rebellion of another group disguised as local stranger. A dispute initiated in 1947 followed by a long term war between countries to acquire this state has left civilians stranded around the vast ocean of fear and inhibitions. Compare this situation with one of the most dreadful accidents in your life and its long lasting impact on your behavior, and possibly you will realize the negative aura diminishing their hope in dewdrops of sudden tragedies.

Scroll through newspapers, social media posts, tweets and all forms of communication media, dozens of opinions fall everywhere. It involves condemning the actions of China and Pakistan, some blaming it all on political forces, some paying respect to the brave soldiers and some proudly praising the extraordinary appeal of the Kashmir’s nature. However, despite witnessing the severe problems disrupting and displacing families, there would be few or no voices demanding independence of Kashmir. When I say independence, it does not mean establishing a yet another border to India and Pakistan but instead it demands freedom of civilians from the regressive ideologies existing there. Here I bring back the context of my recently written character, the disabled beautiful girl entangled in affliction of her own body and the remorseful sympathy of the world around. The paramount need of my character was not beauty and empathy but freedom from the current ambience in a form liberating her innermost desires and goals. Kashmir is my dear girl, asking for freedom from not only the surroundings outside but the communities inside its realm. In his popular poetry, Rabindranath Tagore described the dystopia “where the mind is with fear” in verses addressing the rising domination of intolerance and injustice. The heavenly Kashmir is in a need of mental freedom of thoughts and expression within the minds of its inhabitants, to breathe healthy elements of liberty in the shrouded walls of despair. Women and children restrict their movements and voices in front of long bearded strangers, students wander around after government have shut down all the coaching classes due to problem of stoning and thousands of companions get detached in the wake of hostile actions all over. “Why it was not me but my dear friend, does even God trade lives?” is a response from the young minds, as they lose their closest allies in matter of few seconds as uncertain causes surround them everywhere. At the dawn of world’s largest democracy we can witness the gradual deterioration of independence in this vulnerable state crushed under the sole desire of acquisitions and atonement.

A powerful movement few years back by a group of students and innovator SonamWangchukled to the formation of Students Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL). This NGO proved to be an inspiring initiative to bring suitable educational reforms in Ladakh as a motive to build the poor learning system existing in the state. The founders not only changed the educational landscape considerably but built schools which could harness the best form of quality education to cater the confused minds of children. Although impactful, the change in Kashmir is still far away. There is a need of nourishment of ideologies; the broken parts require healing from within and acceptance from outside. As an Indian I always rejoiced the fact that this unique state called Kashmir is a part of my mother land, however, my inner conscience now urge me to believe that the best decision for all of us will be to rebuild it with a new hope and purpose.

 

Together the collective action of a whole new governing body, the educational reformist, the innovative engineers, the resilient sportsmen, the enthusiastic artists and the individual leaders will be the sole pioneer in the plausible resurrection of this overlooked treasure of nature known to be a symbol of God’s splendid creation. It is important for the nations to stop its usage as a battlefield and cooperate for the salvation of innocent lives. The societal norms and military conflicts have captivated the hopes making it essential for power and people to unite and act against the injustice.Tourism to Kashmir over the years has declined due to beliefs about the negative effect it can cause to travellers with its current situation. I must say after visiting Kashmir I have realized this is a myth which needs to be dispelled in order to promote active tourism it requires for development. The solution lies in experiencing the problem closely and forming a network of talent supported by sufficient manpower to show people the righteous path.The fate of my beautifully written character is now in hands of our own personal decisions; it does not imply the incapability of rising out of its own disability but a simple humane need from other souls to overcome the identity of cursed paradise she is known to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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