The common Kashmiri has always treated the pilgrims as our guests and that’s truly who they are. It’s a duty unto every citizen of the state to make their stay and movement hassle free. The issue need not be politicized. The administrative authorities have time and again underscored and praised the indispensable role of the locals in the conduct of this pilgrimage.
By: Anjum Hussain
So the miseries of the beleaguered people of this godforsaken region continue to swell. And there for sure is a limit to every swelling. Isn’t it?! The people of Jammu and Kashmir have for decades braved the waves of terrorism no matter who perpetrated it. At the receiving end of all the treachery is the common man of the state. This year we have seen novel methods of oppression and subjugation. First in the name of elections and security associated therewith (or as they like to call it ‘in the national interest’), the highway ban was imposed on the movement of civilian transport for two days a week which eventually was reduced to just Sundays. That litmus test pushed the common people against the wall for the umpteenth time. There is a vehement ‘culture’ of seeking private practicing doctors’ consultation on Sundays; hence the patients and their families had to go through indescribable agony and distress during those few months. Close on the heels of that ban comes another installment of the misery. Having successfully overseen the previous ban, the current ruling setup in the state is using every tool in its kitty to add to the misery of the common man.
Amarnath pilgrimage used to carry an air of festivity around it in our state back in the day. I can vividly remember going over to a hilly areas and uplands on the outskirts of my village in Pahalgam town to watch with keen interest the fleet of pilgrims’ vehicles plying on the alternate Aishmuqam-Pahalgam route. The view from the villages facing this route with Lidder river cruising in between used to be picturesque and idyllic. It used to be such a rewarding childhood pastime. Some children would be seen putting up roadside kiosks to sell to the pilgrims and tourists alike fruits grown locally. There used to be an ambience of calm and serenity. And now the same pilgrimage has been politicized to a degree at which it instils an eerie calm or worse still a distressing conundrum through the length and breadth of the valley. The civilian traffic which includes school buses and ambulances are brought to a halt to let only the pilgrim buses pass from the other side. One just wonders if this is the latest addition to the much touted CBMs (confidence building measures viz a viz people of Kashmir. In essence, such measures will have long term repercussions. This is the real separatism. The true secessionist psyche. This is the ground zero reality witnessed not just by the frustrated local but also by the pilgrim from the mainland India who would see for themselves the reason why a common Kashmiri sometimes is compelled to express the resultant anger in ways more than one. The growing up generations here, the school going children who make the future of this state are made to go through extreme agony. It would not be easy to rub off this painful experience from their impressionable minds in the time to come. No remedy would suffice. The can very well witness the helplessness their society has been engulfed in. Should we be taken aback if the same younger lot shows signs of rebellion?! What would be the effects and consequences of such high handedness and arm-twisting on the ones made to grow up in a choking environment?! How would they fathom and digest the atoot-ang (indispensable part) like terminology when they see the citizenry in their own homeland dispensed with those who complain about the behavior of the beleaguered lot of the state need to put their heads together and find answers to these tough but valid questions.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir value human values and honoring the guests is one of them. Harassing the guests or the hosts with self-serving politicking is outright a disservice to humanity and democracy.
The psychological trauma of the older generations is just too much to bear. Having seen their entire lives or a major part of their lives been devoured by the prevailing conflict, the mere thought and imagination of their offspring going through the same trauma is dying before death for them. Mirza Ghalib summed it up like ‘marte hein aarizu mein marne ki; maut aati hai par nahi aati’. That’s what the people of the state go through on a daily basis is no less than seeing an end to their lives.
The irony here is that if the established and organised institutions running the country see the solution in continued subjugation and literally pushing the people against the wall, the same methods if adopted by individuals on their own level are treated as crimes and seditious charges are levelled against them. No sooner a hat drops somewhere than the ugly message announcing snapping of internet service flashes across our gadgets causing irreparable loss of time and money to various stakeholders especially those concerned with education and business. Should a politician come visiting from New Delhi, the common man is made to observe self-imposed house-arrest. And nowadays the traffic management is in disarray. The ongoing Amarnath Yatra, owing to the absence of a well thought out mechanism, has only added to the woes of the common man. There has been little that has been done in terms of widening of the road network especially in and around the Srinagar city which is the hub of all business, official, educational and tourism activities. The local traffic has increased manifold over the past few years and it only keeps increasing by the day. Add to it the tourist vehicles in this peak season, the ‘darbar move’ employees’ transport and then the influx of Amarnath pilgrims, the problems every commuter is facing is given.
The least that can be done as of now is not to harass the general public with moves disguised as security measures. The civilian traffic shouldn’t unnecessarily be brought to a halt which oftentimes includes school children and patients to let only the pilgrims’ vehicles move. The common Kashmiri has always treated the pilgrims as our guests and that’s truly who they are. It’s a duty unto every citizen of the state to make their stay and movement hassle free. The issue need not be politicized. The administrative authorities have time and again underscored and praised the indispensable role of the locals in the conduct of this pilgrimage. The people of Jammu and Kashmir value human values and honoring the guests is one of them. Harassing the guests or the hosts with self-serving politicking is outright a disservice to humanity and democracy.