Don't push Kashmiris away

Events which have unfurled during the past few months have pushed people of Kashmir to the wall. They are being made to believe as if they are not a part of the country and they have to prove their loyalty in one or other way.

History stands testimony to the fact in 1947 Kashmiri leaders preferred secular India over Muslim Pakistan. Since then there has been no looking back and Kashmiri people have been strengthening their bonds with the country.

Kashmiris who can afford have purchased properties across the country. Their children are studying in top educational institutions in different states. People who say that Kashmiris don’t identify themselves with India are misleading the nation. The fact is that Kashmiris are spread across the country and have got adjusted everywhere, for them every state is a second home.    

It’s unfortunate that a section of a media has launched a vicious campaign against the people of Kashmir and its out to demonize Kashmiris. Since the day Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, led government has cracked the whip on the 5% people whose only job was to foment trouble in the Valley stone pelting incidents and street protests have declined. The remaining 95% population in Kashmir has heaved a sigh of relief as there are no frequent shutdown calls and unnecessary violence.

The section of media that survives on Kashmir bashing should stop this malicious propaganda against Kashmiris, who are fed up of violence. 

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during his recent visit to Jammu and Ladakh regions made it clear that the government led by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has devised a road map to resolve Kashmir issue with or without talks. On the other hand the Government of India is formulating a comprehensive policy to rehabilitate displaced Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley. Steps are being taken to revive the composite culture of Kashmir. This culture had taken a hit after the onset of militancy in early nineties. KPs fleeing Kashmir created a vacuum and one hopes that they will return and fill in the void.

Barring a few every Kashmiri wants Pandits to return. In 2015 when the PDP-BJP government made an attempt to bring the Kashmiri Pandits back, separatists raised hue and cry and opposed their settlement in separate colonies. The then government came under pressure and shelved the proposal.

Now the time has changed as the people who had opposed the resettlement of KPs and had threatened stir are themselves in a quandary due to the National Investigating Agency (NIA) tightening its noose around them.

Situation in Kashmir is changing fast as the violence is on decline. People are hoping that peace prevails and normalcy returns so that they are able to live their lives without any disturbance.

The media, which is out to portray Kashmiris as “villains” and is issuing veiled threats to people of Kashmir needs to realize that it’s doing big disservice to the nation. The media needs to make people of Kashmir comfortable rather than making them insecure.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it amply clear on many occasions that his government wants to take everyone along to build a new India. It’s unfortunate that some people with vested interests want to communalize the situation and are projecting the things in a different way. They seem to have forgotten that India is a secular country and its people cannot be divided on the basis of caste, creed, colour and religion.

People of Kashmir deserve respite and they should be treated at par with other citizens of the country. They cannot be denied their basic rights just on one or other pretext. They should be allowed to move freely and carry on with their daily chores without any interruptions. People who are handling Kashmir at present seem to have realised that everyone in Kashmir is not an extremist and the Valley mostly comprises of moderate people, who during all these years remained silent due to one or another reason. Perception about Kashmiris needs to change and media has to play an important role. It (media) cannot act irresponsibly and push people away. Fringe elements need to bear in mind that it’s the people who matter and not the land.    

(The writer is a former Journalist and member of JK Youth Alliance)