The Lost Childhood

A peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue would unleash relief to the tormented natives of the Kashmir valley and to the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir and it will bring immense prosperity for the entire South Asian Region.
The Lost Childhood
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The loss of a child is the most devastating experience a parent can undergo and missing the child never goes away. A piece of yourself is lost and your future is forever changed. The age of the child at the time of death does not lessen the hurt of devastation. A wailing mother questions herself that whether her life will hold any meaning and wonder how she will survive the pain of the loss. She describes the feeling as having a hole in her heart that will never heal. The loss and pain of children who left home and never returned, children who never had time to bid their goodbyes. Undoubtedly we have offered so many sacrifices for so long. The magnitude of suffering is colossal and irreparable. As the death toll rises in our Valley, the psyche of whole population has got influenced. The loss of young ones has left Kashmir literally impoverished. While the young have always been victim of conflict, they are increasingly becoming both targets and perpetrators of violence. The use of bullet and pellet against children is crime against humanity. Kashmir is the only place where pellets are used against humans. There is a tangible as well as intangible dimension to this unending pain. This uncertainty is draining out people very badly. Children bear the worst brunt of this catastrophe. It has many ramifications on them. Collateral damage is an oft heard phrase in a place like Kashmir and children in Kashmir are being treated as collateral damage. They are physically and mentally affected. 

For the past 27 years Kashmir continues to suffer in one way or the other. For the sake of our children, we urgently need to resolve this dispute. By focusing on the human aspect of the tragedy of Kashmir, it requires a political solution. Kashmir issue is not a peripheral or isolated one. The Kashmir issue continues to destroy lives of innocent masses. People continue to suffer immensely especially the children. The incredible suffering and pain is visible everywhere as the result of this conflict. Every home in Kashmir has series of questions being asked by the young children about the situation of the Kashmir. Many parents are unable to make their children understand about the gloomy situation. Children are living through tragedies and preponderance of suffering and miseries. The series of pain and agony around will definitely have bad repercussions and this increased level of conflict-related stress is going to take catastrophic shape.

No child should have to pay the price but increasingly they do. Dozens of children are killed and blinded and thousands are injured and lakhs of children suffer as a result of this catastrophe. Children cannot wait for conflict to end before we begin to address their educational needs. The education system is hard hit with hundreds of schools closed across Kashmir valley. Education is crucial in establishing their lives. We must understand and become seized of this important matter. The grim situation on the ground is a direct threat to the interests and well-being of all especially children.  With no school for more than two months children all over Kashmir are modifying their behaviour. Children play according to their surroundings which is based on socio-cultural milieu. They don't remain immune to what is happening around them and they imbibe every bit of it. Personality development of a child is affected by the memories and the happenings around them. Education is the entire learning experience of a child and is about helping children to acquire skills and knowledge throughout their lives, developing their ability to make independent choices and instilling a sense of responsibility. It unlocks their potential and contributes to the development of societies. Education plays a vital role in nurturing future generations. While enabling personal growth, it also contributes to economic and social development. It is our common responsibility to ensure that all children have access to education.  Special attention needs to be paid to promote education. We must also encourage the development of educational curricula that promote openness, critical thinking and creativity. The life chances of future generations depend on the ways in which we address contemporary problems.

The Kashmir Conflict is one of the biggest disputes of the past century and one of the longest existing conflicts. It began officially in 1947 and continues to this day. In 68 years it has caused the death, displacement and destruction of thousands of people. Kashmiri's suffered, strived and struggled but there doesn't seem to be any end to their miseries. The on-going conflict had made their living even worse than hell. As physical injuries are visible to everyone mental psyche often go unacknowledged. The long pending issue of Kashmir needs a resolution to salvage its suppressed natives from this grave catastrophe. There must be a serious, result-oriented and time-bound process of dialogue. The mantra of Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat and Insaniyat may still be a workable formula. There is a urgent need to engage all stake holders for the peaceful solution. A peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue would unleash relief to the tormented natives of the Kashmir valley and to the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir and it will bring immense prosperity for the entire South Asian Region.

Author is Assistant Professor at IMPA, Kashmir             

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