A disquieting environment

The widespread reports of harassment, intimidation, profiling and even violence directed at Kashmiris living in various parts of the country are a matter of grave concern.

The widespread reports of harassment, intimidation, profiling and even violence directed at Kashmiris living in various parts of the country are a matter of grave concern. This is quite a precarious, and even unprecedented, situation. This situation has primarily developed owing to the environment of vilification targeted at Kashmiri population that certain political parties, right-wing religious groups and some sections of media have orchestrated in recent months. One of the most positive things to have happened in Kashmir over the last two decades or so was the unprecedented emigration of Kashmiris to various parts of the world, including the plains down south in the country, for education, jobs and business. Such enhanced social interaction was expected to create a greater space for mutual understanding and respect. With dwindling job, business and educational opportunities within the state, an increasing number of Kashmiris would prefer to travel and seek opportunities elsewhere within and outside of the country. With the current climate of intimidation and violence, there is today a greater degree of reluctance among people to travel to other states in India. Parents aiming to send their children for education are today facing serious dilemmas given what all Kashmiri students are facing today in various educational institutions across the country. That there is a deep political, cultural and psychological gulf between the idea of Kashmir and the rest of India cannot be denied. There are ample examples throughout the world where people have such divides and yet co-exist peacefully. Intimidation and violence cannot change political realities. The greater the efforts towards hammering a political and cultural monolith the greater the resistance will be. It is the duty of the union government to send a clear message to the country that any acts of intimidation, denial of basic rights and violence directed at Kashmiris will be firmly dealt with law. There are at least 300,000 construction workers, public sectors employees, students and other visitors in Kashmir today. Irrespective of the political gulf, they live a life of harmony, enjoying Kashmiris' famed hospitality. The rest of India must reciprocate that hospitality. And it is the duty of the government to make sure that the current environment is not allowed to deteriorate further.

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