J K News Today Commentary
Even if some ambassadors said that they have come as tourists to the Valley, it should be seen as a sign of normalcy. Their Shikara ride on the shimmering waters of Dal Lake confirms this picture that Kashmiris had been seeking to project that Kashmir is safe for tourists.
It is not the same Kashmir from where tourists were asked to leave the Valley on August 2 for their own safety. And, even when they were asked to come back in October last year, they did not return in as many numbers as they were expected. The sense was clear that tourists were avoiding the Valley .
Count the reasons, there was a spontaneous shutdown, streets were deserted and traffic was off road. Tourism is not just one stop. The normalcy for tourists comes from surroundings.
The environment was not favourable. Now, it is. That is the message that the world will pick up.
Diplomatically, the envoys has come to see and assess the situation. They were on a “guided tour”. That’s for a fact. But it also is a fact that the optics in which they were captured by cameras and eyes of Kashmiris were real. That is where the signs of normalcy appear more than the pictures, though it is a universally acknowledged fact that pictures speak for thousands of words.
Kashmir is not completely normal. It is as much true as the countries they represent. There are difficulties all across the world and those interrupt the normalcy.
Kashmir had a particular context. It was being studied and seen against the backdrop of the August 5 decision of abrogating Article 370 and the lockdown that the Valley and its people suffered. The Centre’s mistake was on two counts: one, it did not explain its intentions and the purpose behind the decision in detail and convincing manner. It appeared, and it did, too, that the decision was a clash of ideologies of those favouring abrogation of the Article 370, they were deemed to be, Hindu nationalists. And they were. Those opposing the August 5 step were seen as those perpetuating the concept of one state, two systems and inflicting wounds on national unity. The rhetoric from the two sides was hostile to each other and it touched extremes. The implementation of the decision with an undeclared curfew and complete shutdown of communication channels made things worse.
Now what happened during those days and months in Kashmir can only be narrated, the picture of those days are not available. The pictures of the fear, scare and anger of the people, with security personnel dotting almost every yard. Since that picture in real sense is not available, the envoys are entitled to their conclusions. A gap of six months is a long time .
The current picture of Kashmir lies in between what it was before August and immediately after the decision. There is a struggle against the struggle of projecting narratives that suit Delhi and the ones that Kashmiris want the world to hear without speaking themselves. Physical normalcy is emerging, same cannot be said about the psychological normalcy.
Instead of bringing ambassadors and sending ministers on specially designed out reach programmes, Kashmir needs a thorough understanding of what ails it.
Ambassadors will do their job, reporting back the normalcy that they saw to their countries. But that is not a substitute to the ambassadors that people of Kashmir can become for their place and the nation. They need a hand to be extended to them.