On April 28, to May 2nd 2017, I was in Srinagar. I will try to explain what I saw. When I arrived Srinagar, I felt a different vibe from the airport itself. While I moved out of the Airport I saw heavy security managed by CRPF and J&K police. Although, most of the airports have such security but there CRPF and J&K Police were more in number for a small Srinagar Airport.
Anyways, When we met our driver he took us to Gulmarg vai NH1. On our way to Gulmarg, we saw just CRPF and J&K personnel until Gulmarg guarding the highway in 5 degrees cold and rain. These security personnel were not meddling with anyone. Just standing in a corner at a distance of every 100 mts. There were mobile bunkers after every 300–400 mts.
While we were in Gulmarg. We met our guide who was pro separate Kashmir. He was giving his logic – “We don’t have any problem with you Indians (He literally called us Indians), all we want is a Azad kashmir, Do not remove article 370 and let us rule our own land.”
When i asked some bitter questions, he has only one answer “NO”. My questions were:
- Have you ever been to the so called “Azad kashmir” which pakistan has occupied illegally ? – Answer was “NO”
- Have you seen and ever evaluated growth and development of your so called “Azad kashmir” with the so called “Gulam Kashmir”. The answer was “NO”
- Do you know what it takes to run a whole country ? The answer was “NO”
- How will a land locked hypothetical country like Kashmir grow its GDP when you have just 3–5 months of Tourism? The answer was “NO”
- How will your hypothetical country “Kashmir” sustain the flood, natural calamities and how would it build its own defense ? When it will not have much resources at its disposal. At this point you get so much of subsidy (Free water, Electricity, Subsidized food etc) ? The answer was “NO”
- How would the people of Kahsmir grow uplift their life standard? when they do not have enough Colleges and Schools. Most of the Kashmiris depend on the Indian side of the infrastructure. The answer was “NO, but we will do something”
Anyways, this is from one guy, I assumed that I might get in touch with someone who can be more vocal about their issues. And I would be able to understand their problem. But that did not happen. We came back from Gulmarg stayed at Srinagar for the night. Next morning, the driver took us to Pehalgam and while we were trekking the pahalgam valley, we encountered another set of people who were initally selling Pashmina to us. Claiming it to be the best and the purest Pashmina shawl from the Karshmir valley. While we kept refusing to them , they insisted us to at least have a look at their item and it would be ok, if they do not buy anything. The guy who was showing me the articles, he took him time and shown his goods, later when he realized that I am really not going to buy anything from him. He turned hostile and asked me from where I come from. I responded him in a question – Where do you think I am from ?
He: You are not our friend. You are not helping us.
I: I told you I am not going to buy anything at first place, why do you feel bad about it?
He; You tell me where are you from?
I : I am from Pakistan !
He: You can not be from Pakistan.
He: If you would have been from Pakistan, you would definitely helped us ! INSHA-Allah, One day will come, when they will come here and we all shall be saved !
I : (Offended), alright my friend then wait, until they come and help you in selling your Pashmina.
He: (Takes out his mobile phone) plays a song
The song which we was playing was in praise of Burhan Wani. Then he called his fellow sellers who were loitering around. Sat close to me and started singing the same song loud.
The same guy started shouting – Burhan wani is our hero and INSHA-ALLH one day Pakistan will acquire Kashmir. We sat their and kept smiling at their non sense.
So while they sang and we listened to their non-sense. A Samosa seller who was looking at our little rift came and apologized to us on their behalf. I told him, who will come to visit these places if they are going to sing such songs and portray Burhan Wani as your hero. On this he says… “Jab Fauj ne mara tha ussey, to daar ke maare wo peshab kar dia! wo koi hero nahi tha bhai , mai unki taraf se maafi mangta hun ” (When Forces shot him, he peed in his pants out of fear. He was no hero brother!)
While returning back from Pehalgam, we stopped at Avantipura Temple ruins. To our surprise, we saw that a Sardar (Sikh guide) greeting us at the gate while we purchased the tickets. To my surprise, the locals were not ready to buy any tickets and they entered the premises as if it was their backyard. The guide happily explained the importance of Hindu temple ruins, while I was hooked on to few local lads who were sitting on one of the Vishnu pillar. When we passed them, they gave us a strange look and one of them spit on the ground.
When we were about to complete the tour of the ruins, we reached to the same place where these guys were waiting for us. As soon we reached closer to them, they started singing, Azaadi, Azaadi (Freedom, Freedom). To which guide explains us. “Tussi fiqr na karo, Abhi dande padenge aur inna milege azaadi”. (Don’t you worry, they will have sticks and then they will get freedom). The guide explains further, that these guys are paid to sit here by Hurriyat people and instigate such non-sense. in the mean while a guy came and brushed my shoulder chanting aazadi. To which I told him. “Bro.. How much more Azaadi you need? When you can spit on the place of workship of Hindus, and all of us did not say a word”.. He stops and again chants Aazadi in a weak voice and run away!
On third day, when we entered in one of the upmarket Kashmiri restaurant (Adoosh, Central Srinagar Market [Lal Chaok]). While we were ordering our food, the men sitting next to our table greeted us and asked where we are from?
They asked : Kaisa Laga Kashmir? (How is Kashmir, Did you enjoy here?)
I : Its beautiful but costly!
They: When you go back, please ask others to come here. You can see there is no violence in the valley!
I : yes , off course !
They: This NDTV, and other media are thieves, they are just showing violence, which in fact is prevailing in just few villages! Please ask others to come and enjoy! Our region is getting impacted because of these false news.
They helped us choosing our Kashmiri dishes and left after eating.
The reason why I narrated this story ? Because I wanted to tell you there are basically three types of people who prevail in Kashmir Valley.
- Who do not know why they need Freedom and from whom? what would they do once they have their so desired freedom? They do not even know what freedom means!
- Those uneducated youth who are surgically radicalized by the local leaders (Clerics/ Politicians) well funded by the pakistani intelligence agencies !
- Educated and industrious people of the Kashmir, who know Jihad will not fill their stomach and which is why they want people to come and visit Kashmir so that they can earn their bread and butter for the rest of the year. They want peace and growth of the region. They want their kids to get education and live a happy life.
The video which you have shared above may or may not be true! Because even if the stone pelting happens, it happens in the tiny corner of any Kashmir village! It does not even happen in the entire village. By and Large people of kashmir are peaceful, but they have been surgically radicalized ! It is important for the governments (State and Central) to make sure than these radical forces keep at bay and the youth of the region don’t fall prey to these vultures. people who are engaged in business, they understand the importance of their association with India. They know, they are better and more prosperous with Indian Union than being alone or being with pakistan.
I have not seen any unjust behavior from CRPF/Indian Army /J&K police. I also asked from my driver and he says :
“Yaha saab kutch shant rehta hai ! Jab tak politician apni gandagi nahi shuru karte! Wo hi bolte hai jaa ke patthar chalao, aur log bhi pagal hai .. shuru ho jate hai … 400–500 rupaye ke liye”
(here everything is fine, until these politicians provoke the public to start throwing stones at security forces. People are also mad, for 400–500 rupees, they even do it !)
So not every one is a terrorist in Kashmir, but who cares what everyone is ?
History has witnessed it all –
- Not all the Germans were Nazis, yet Germany is known for the Nazi brutality.
- Not all pakistanis are pro-terrorists yet all the major terrorist organizations are headquartered in Pakistan
- Not every Muslim is a terrorist, yet all the Muslims are perceived one(At least in Western World
There are good and bad people every where in the World, but bad people become news easily than good ones.