Binoo Joshi

JK News Today’s special commentary

President of India Droupadi Murmu made one of the most significant statements in her address to the joint session of the Parliament on Wednesday about Jammu and Kashmir , but the real significance of her remarks is the adoption of idea of normalcy of the UT in the national discourse.
She illustrated past , present and future of J&K with her observations in the most succinct phrase.: “ There is a sense of security in Jammu and Kashmir . The earlier deserted look of market places due to strike has been replaced by the hustle bustle of crowded markets..”.
It reflects two most significant changes that Jammu and Kashmir has undergone in the past few years, especially after the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019..
First, it is the physical change that has come about in the UT since 2019 – the lifestyle of people in Kashmir has changed , and this is not easy to imagine that how normalcy of moving at one’s will and filling the streets is a birth of new life for Kashmiris . Just contrast it with the way Kashmir has lived for over three decades- 1990s and first two decades of the 21st century. There was a physical surrender to the forces of violence and disruption , but more than that there was a capitulation of abilities to think, analyze and find a way out to live by themselves . This psychological surrender made things worse, debilitating inner strength and injected. An eternal sense of fear, which blurred their sense of drawing distinction between what is good for them and what’s not .
“ The earlier deserted look of market places due to strike ….” is a reference to the times when the silent and deserted streets and roads defined Kashmir , where tourists flinched at the very thought of visiting Kashmir. For them Kashmir’s magnificent beauty had its own risks – tourists were kidnapped and killed . They also felt intimidated and harassed at the frequent general strike calls and stone throwing . This was lethal , and they kept coming and shunning the Valley.
It happened to tourists time and again,. They were killed in 2006, 2007 and 2008- their buses were hit by grenades and stones . They felt themselves vulnerable . their visits to the Valley were also phases of captivity and they fled at the first opportunity to exit . This atmosphere and the physical harm to the tourists in 2009, 2010 and 2016 , and even thereafter they were targeted by stone throwers , damaging image of Kashmir as. a place of hospitable people and Kashmiris. They violated the very idea and culture of Kashmir hospitability with stones and grenades.
The ” hustle and bustle in the market places,” plays out the transformation of J&K , under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in his first few months of his office , promised to the people in the erstwhile state , now bifurcated into two union territories of Ladakh, and J&K, that he would make all efforts to lift Kashmir out of quagmire in which it was sunk, and a make a bright future visit it and its youth . That promised has been fulfilled , but as it appears the PM is aiming for something bigger for J&K . He made Srinagar to host G20 meeting in Srinagar, the mention if which President made in her address . That is to suggest that Kashmir has shown its participation in a huge international event – G 20 – now it is prepared to host more global events , which not only raise its profile as a land bustling with vibrant life , but also making it clear to the world , Kashmir is looking forward to better times , no chance of its looking back to the past . President encapsulated everything in her address , and this also appeared to be nation’s commitment to J&K , the place which is now in the national discourse as a land of promise .