A Deep Dilemma

File Photo: Mir Imran/GK

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.