The trip was well planned. But a few days before our flight, we were thinking.. is it a good idea? There had been so many ‘incidents’ and then some people shared their worry that.. you know. Kashmir was nothing like we had known in those 1970’s movies. Times had changed and valley was known for ‘bloodshed’ and ‘violence’. Our flight landed on time and we got out of the airport. There was an air of dread. Too much security, like something was going to happen that very moment. We relaxed when got away from those blockades.
Kashmir is really a heaven on earth. And now we know why it so much ‘sought’ after. The valley is surrounded by beauty on all sides. The mountains in between, with some snow on the top. And when we took a driver, we talked.. about the sad reality of Kashmir. The borders near Gulmerg LoC are really porous. During winter, when there is snow and fog all around, it is very hard to track who is walking those mountain sides. Thus the militants have had a free hand in the valley. And they have led people against ‘occupation’ by India, though people remember Indian army ‘came’ there to prevent annexation by Pakistan.
Most people want ‘azadi’ for Kashmir and in this ‘lost’ cause many families were broken and devastated. We all know that story. Every Kashmiri family probably lost a son. But most importantly, Kashmir has lost its future. It is a state surviving solely on tourism and some farming. There is no ‘plan’ for Kashmir. Probably the Kashmiris don’t have a plan for themselves. They want to be ‘azad’ first. As long as there are poster boys for ISI in Kashmir, the people will live their lives in a ‘hung’ state. Some of them hate ‘Indian’ presence there.
The people were very welcoming and are known for their hospitality. They value their guests very much and go out of their way to make the visit memorable. I don’t think anyone born in Kashmir wants to leave their land. Nor they like going anywhere else to earn their livelihood. They are staying there.. hoping for a better tomorrow. Peace would be a good road to that better tomorrow.