Sunday, May 09, 2010
Amidst all odds - emerges a winner
Kashmir is the crown of India. Right at the top of the Indian map. And surrounded by 3 nations. That gives the state vulnerability and the people often get caught in the disputes of two nations making a claim on the Indian land. The places have military and security personnel even in the main city. Something similar to what I saw in Assam, when I'd visited Dad on his posting to the state for two years, several years ago.
Flights to Srinagar from rest of India allow cabin luggage. But flights from Srinagar to rest of India do not even allow cabin luggage. As you move out of Srinagar, you are subject to three security checks. A few kilometres away from the airport, your have to leave your vehicle and be subjected to luggage and personal check. Beyond that not more than two people who are not taking the flight can accompany you till the main airport. As you reach the airport, your main luggage is again put through scan. Then after taking the boarding pass, you're subject to gruelling security check including body frisking. Ladies purses are emptied on the table and every item is checked in front of all. The lady security personnel sometimes have a laugh at some simple people's expense. You're not allowed a single safety pin or even a small roll of stitching thread. Even cosmetics like compact, eyeshadows, kajal are checked to the extent of spoiling it. Maybe some ladies checking the stuff want to irritate the passengers so much that you allow them to keep it.
As you finish the embarrassing display of your personal things to everyone, you heave a sigh of relief ! As you finally move out of the airport towards the aircraft after showing your boarding pass, it's not over as yet. Another body frisking session is waiting for you ! Then you finally move towards the aircraft sans any luggage and a messy handbag.
For many years, the tourism had dropped due to fear in the people of rest of India in going to places like Srinagar, Gulmarg and the like. People do go towards the Jammu area for Vaishnav Devi yatra, but not many go towards Srinagar. As not many companies have their offices in this area, the major occupation of the people in the land remains sale of local handicrafts. And you find a few other traders apart from some professionals. Slowly, tourism is picking up. Even Dr Manmohan Singh is taking steps to phase out the military from the area and give relief to the inhabitants of the state. We all need to see Kashmir just as any other state of India.
People living away from the city, in the valley, go through lot of problems as cross border tensions build up. But they have now started taking it a part of their lives. Some youth do get frustrated and take a wrong path. While some others face discrimination when they go to other parts of India. Amidst all this tension and the trauma of losing his father to terrorists, when you consider the fact that a boy can overcome all odds to get an MBBS degree first and then top the IAS exams in India, it is really an achievement. There have been times in earlier years, when one used to hear of schools and offices remaining closed unconditionally due to problems in the area. All this affects the normal schooling of a child apart from the fact that the syllabus of children in same standard is not uniform across the state. I saw two children of the same class having two different sets of books altogether.
But having facing all problems, Dr Faisal Shah has brought not only pride, but also hope to the people, especially youth, of Jammu and Kashmir. And like him, I feel all the youth of the state should think positively and strive to achieve success amidst all odds! And you cannot deny success to a person who strives hard to achieve it! And the rest of India, should of course stand in support.
Note : I'd been to the state only for 3 days in Dec when the 'Chinar' trees had shed their leaves a la 'Mohabbatein' style. But Apr-Oct is actually the right time to be in 'heavenly land'. Mumbai heat is so bad, leading to so many related problems, I do not mind rushing to Srinagar right now!