With nothing in place, what else can go wrong in Kashmir
Life in Kashmir was tolerable during the totalitarian rule of the autocrat Maharaja who was only visible to people when in polo ground or on occasions in river carnivals. The British overlords laid a patronizing hand on the locals who made a living selling them merchandise.
The basic needs for survival were derived from local sources and no one was brought in a hospital with malnutrition even though people were mostly poor. The foreign missionaries looked after education and healthcare in addition to what services the state provided. As a society it was a closed family and Maharaja gave people state subject status, preserved indigenous identity, resources and created opportunities to exploit local produce from agriculture and forest produce. People were subjects in political domain but not forced to bow down in obeisance. Religion was at peak levels and mutual tolerance was the norm. Violence was rare and punished and any violent act was punishable. Statute in governing practices assured security to life. Human rights violations came on the scene with the advent of democracy in Kashmir. People did not own cars, Somo transport and motor bikes but they managed to be in time for work and the roads and pavements were clean. They walked with a clear benefit to health. Their joys and thrills came from outings, pleasure trips, nights spent in Dongas, and days of laughter and humour in the air and the deep-seated satisfaction in life and living. All those attributes of the society have vanished in Kashmir in the name of political emancipation, progress and democratization.
What else can go wrong? There are ditches, potholes, huge open drains in which rubbish goes in as food for dogs and as hazards to traffic and health. There is visible loss of the quality of life, tranquillity and peace of work place and looking after a family. Invasions of this piece of paradise never seem to relent be it politics or punitive force. All remnants of governance and law and order seem distant.
What else can go wrong? A devastating flood made over a 100 thousand people homeless. There are questions that intrigue them. Where are the priorities of giving this fragment of humanity a relief from suffering? It has taken four months for the administration and now personal entreats by the Governor who has only just taken over the reins of administration to realise to even make a guess at estimated loss. How much is required to rehabilitate survivors of the devastating floods in the State. Omar Abdullah made an estimate of 44,000 crores of immediate assistance to restore semblance of normalcy before he left office as CM. Door to door, surveys based his estimate. Tall promises were made when asking people to vote them in power. Where else can people turn for help because international agencies are not in a position to get directly involved for reasons of intercession in fragile sovereignty? It becomes apparent that this part of the world that is in turmoil is also isolated.
One salvation is hope but what is there to hope for? The PDP’s ‘aspirational agenda as manifesto included pursuit of self-rule, framework for resolution of Kashmir dispute, empowerment of people, economically self-reliant , environmentally safe, socially cohesive, and culturally vibrant. That utopia may be a distant dream for PDP, people at existential level seek basic shelter and healthcare. It is a disturbing sight to witness private clinics and surgeries in Kashmir bursting in seams with millions of ill people languishing in third-rate waiting rooms and finding resources to afford even the services provided by these health shops.
What else can go wrong? If people kill, their conscience and vote for a government to take shape that will start the colossal work of building the tattered nation back on its feet. They have waited for too long and lost confidence in the statecraft. The inherent resilience will tide them over for a time but not much longer will they survive, persistence of adverse conditions of living, mayhem in traffic, infrastructure in ruins, electricity and water supply in dribs and drabs, hospitals like vestigial monuments with changing population of government officials presiding over anarchy. People can only wait for justice.