Kashmiris are coming back home after spending horrible times in other parts of the country and abroad. They had never anticipated even in their nightmares that they would be returning home the way they did. They were returning only after having spent more than 40 days in an unprecedented situation where the fear of pandemic was omnipresent. It continues to haunt them in the Valley, too, as their homes are in the red zone that denotes that without precautions and safety measures they cannot be safe. Their native place is not immune from the pandemic. They know it well.
Well, when all of them are back home, there would be many new questions staring at them, “what next.” Like many of the countrymen who underwent the similar experiences, perhaps worse as did they , there would be no clear answers.
Should they go back to cities and towns, universities and colleges where they were working or studying, or stay back at home as the pile of uncertainties is not going to breached any time soon. The consequences of either of their decisions would be staggering.
For students, there is a limited option, as there are no high class institutions in the Union Territory where they could get admission and study the way they were doing it outside of it. This, in itself, is a moment of reflection for all in the union territory.
Had Covid-19 not hit J&K this spring, what would have been the state of things in J&K? It is a hypothetical question. No one had expected that this novel corona virus would cripple the lives like this where hope for tomorrow is like an impossible dream, given the ever tightening grip of the pandemic in which the doctors and the paramedical staff, too, have not been spared by the ugly looking corona – host of round of red thorns as imagined and sketched by the health experts.
Amidst an overall despairing mood, it would be worth recalling that why this phenomena has come to haunt them. Apart from the usual class of rich that took pride in sending their children for studies outside the Valley, and quite often abroad as well. While the rich had the money to fund studies of their children abroad, there were others in the government services whose children were rewarded with handsome scholarships in dollars abroad. They were blessed with exceptional talent, while others in the Valley, howsoever, talented they might have been, had to reconcile to their fate decided by the system.
For common Kashmiris, whoever were able to afford it, stared sending their children outside the Valley. This process was born out of compulsive fear in the 1990s. It peaked beginning 2010 and finally after intense street protests and counter action in 2016. The lure of better and bright studies elsewhere was just one part of it. The truer part was that they were made to escape to the peaceful places to study in comfort. The pandemic has changed all this. The fear of the corona virus has overtaken all other fears.
Their dilemma has yet another dimension. All of them were at different stages of their studies. They cannot pick up threads in the Valley for neither there are institutions nor the facilities of migration available to them. This is an acute dilemma, which has further deepened because they don’t have access to the high-grade level of internet that was a click away in the rest of the country .
Are they home or caught in a nowhere situation ?
More distressing scenario haunts others – traders, shawl vendors and businessmen, and also labourers. They have lost much of their fortune, and dug into their savings to survive. Their means are limited and there are no means to earn anything substantial anytime soon. These are black spots in the history. How long will they be in this state of economic distress, no one has the answer to this question. And the victims are themselves unable to find a way out for themselves .
These are difficult times but these times should be turned into an opportunity to look for work at home.