JK News Today Commentary

Binoo Joshi

Home Minister Amit Shah’s assertion that Kashmir has changed , and hanged for better and peaceful days , is backed by facts on ground and the optics that have emerged thereof.. As a matter of coincidence these changes have come after the abrogation of Article 370 , the constitutional provision that granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and also conferred it with exclusive rights and privileges . This represented symbolism that J&K was different from the rest of the country , and it was unique in its political and geographical entity. The issue which irked the nation most was that this led to the secessionist tendencies which consolidated and manifested in terrorism-related violence, which raised a serious threat to both the internal and external security of the country . There was a grave risk to the national security.
Today’s Kashmir is drawing the national attention by its potential to attract tourists in millions , an unprecedented feature, is symbolic of the great changes that have taken place on the ground as also that how it has shifted psychology of the people. They have been freed from the suppression of the ideology of radicalism and terror that had crippled their lives. Now they are out of this fear, and can look forward to the greater opportunities coming their way.
Beyond flourishing tourism narrative , that in itself is an eye opener at three levels, essentially to the people of the Valley who had given up hopes of revival of the tourism industry ever becoming vibrant as the terrorism had time and again disrupted this sector , inflicting severe economic losses . These had posed a serious challenge to the original image of the people and the place . Now the people have regained their confidence in the situation . Nationally, too, the message from the Valley is that the visit of theirs to the Valley would stay cool and calm as there was no fear of terrorists or stone throwing disrupting their holidaying and forcing them to rush back in an atmosphere of panic. That had happened to them on several occasions, in 2006, 2008 , 2009, 2010 and 2016 as also in 2017 and 2018 . And internationally , the Valley is now a place where separatist narratives and agitations have become thing of the past . In fact, a deeper thing which has come to fore is that whatever was happening in the Valley for over 30 years was not indigenous , it was a result of the export of violence from across the border.
Let’s look beyond the ever-piling statistics of the arrival of tourists in the Valley , two million of them in the Valley last year, and it is already more than two lakh till mid-March this year , and others being the pilgrims to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine and other places.
The human psychology in Kashmir which was torn between a search for normalcy and the terrorism sitting next to their doorsteps. The fear has disappeared ,to a large extent . And what it has led to cannot be summed up in statistics or admiring description of normalcy , there are some of the untouched issues which need to be highlighted .
In very simple terms , there always was a sportsman in every Kashmiri child , like other parts of the country, but the difference was that they could not complete their innings played on streets, fields . These could get disrupted by the bombs and bullets and threat of stones hitting them and their wickets . Now that is not the case , they have the school playfields to show their talent . The deserted streets which often turned into the cricket pitch in the times of shutdown have gone out of their reach as the shopkeepers and local residents are doing their business as usual . But they have been given bigger fields . In almost all villages, Panchayats have set up play fields where football, cricket and other sports are being played in an atmosphere of freedom from fear of disruptions.
This change has also made the children to recognize the importance of studies. They are regular to their schools , as all the schools are opening regularly on daily basis . The time to learn and compete in the world has revisited them, after three generations the dreams of which have been consumed by the violence of three decades . This is the real change . Wings have been given to the dreams of Kashmiris of all ages.