Kashmiris have a distinction of being resistant and docile, yet belligerent and combative at times. Kashmir is the only place in the history of mankind where not only the land and its soil, the abundant natural resources but also the people and their fortunes were sold. Numerous travelogues have been penned on Kashmir describing its emerald surroundings, its competent inhabitants and their struggles down the history. Not to forget of the prevalent conflict and turmoil which has left hundreds and thousands of precious innocent lives massacred while numerous orphaned and widowed. Still they have notably combated and opposed worst tyrannies, faced massive deluges and have been rising repeatedly.
Thats what Kalhana could say to this valiant and fearless spirit the inhabitants of this land can be conquered only by spiritual force and never by brute-force of arms. All these sacrifices and resistance movements are dedicated to this dazzling land of Kashmir and for our better tomorrow. All such endeavours have been to sustain Kashmir as peaceful and happiest place and ecologically stable.
Kashmir is Kashmir only because it is Kashmir. The alluring beauty and rich natural resources are its invaluable assets. Kashmir owes fame to its once serene environment, rich biodiversity, abundant waters, its snow clad sturdy mountains, vast backgrounds of meadows. But one questions if this is the same land which was nourished and fostered by our ancestors who struggled to keep it safe from tyrannical forces? Why is that we have overlooked and ignored their dreams of happiest, peaceful and ecologically stable Kashmir. Does our braveness educate us to violate nature rights and massacre fragile environment? One may answer emotionally with a big no but that will be utterly a false statement.
Ironically we have failed to keep the promises. Weve in reality defied and disregarded the concerns of our ancestors, their motivating spirit and unimaginable love for this land. As a nation who have historically always stood up and overcome amidst thorny and hard times, Kashmiris have not yet arose against environmental devastation. We have not taken any stringent action against nature rights breeches nor realized the gravity of our mistakes. We are totally in slumber, deep sleep of ecological ignorance, despite the repeated signs and warnings.
Kashmir is undoubtedly facing serious environmental challenges. Looking around, gloomy pictures catch our sight. The tattered Valley, looted of its resources, its encroached water bodies, polluted streams, logged forests, mined mountains, barracked and picketed meadows are now defining present-day Kashmir. One can better imagine the grave environmental crisis and climate change by the September flood fury, recurrent flood threats and prevalent strange weather pattern. Such calamites and misfortunes are our own sown seeds illustrated by miserable stories of Dal, Nigeen, Aanchar, Mansbal , Wular and other wetlands which have lost their potential soaking capacities.
Misfortunes follow misfortunes as if Kashmiris are not enough to rip apart this land on their own. Imagine the serious and critical threat to our forest resources looming at the hands of Armed Forces. The Forces stationed in the upper reaches have also not left any stone untouched alike local people in looting green gold and making deep inroads to the forests. The continuous shelling in meadows by the Armed Forces has turned Valley to a barren hell. For instance the Tosmaidan meadow is endangered due to unchecked shelling in the region putting human lives, wildlife and entire ecosystem into peril. There are similar stories of distress across the Valley in its every nook and corner.
Ecologically devastated Kashmir can never be reckoned as a real Kashmir. If a place is ecologically vandalized, it ceases to grow, develop and prosper. There remains nothing significant to take pride in or even boast of. There would be nothing like paradise on earth in near future if the wanton loot of its natural resources continues. Then what use we would put our sacrifice and resistance movement to as existence of nationalistic feeling is relegated to dust. For if the land we have loved and fostered is tattered, what will remain there to be struggled for. What will be there to get out of the clutches of oppression and which land we brag of making independent as a nation, if at all?
It is high time to avert further degradation of the environment. There is no other alternative. We need to stop polluting our surroundings, streams and the lakes. We have to put an end to axing natural forests and discontinue all that infringes upon nature rights.
The braveness with which we have faced the worst times, the same endeavours are needed for environmental concern as well. A similar approach of steadfastness, dedication and commitment has to be revived. Those patriotic and nationalistic feelings of our ancestors for this land have to be restored while taking care and nourishing it.
The onus is also on leaders to gather support for ecological concern. The resistance movement is useless unless we protect what we are striving for. The leaders of various factions whose statements mean a final order for a large section of people can verily help in promoting ecological ethos. They should start motivating people towards environmentalism if they truly love this land.
Not just ourselves we have to guide others alike who visit Kashmir, in preserving the left out portions. Better late than never! Still there are chances of improvement even at this stage. Although it is difficult to restore lost glory to its zenith, we can atleast prevent further deterioration of environment by inculcating best ever ecological ethics and ways of life. That is how our historical sacrifices will get a fitting dignity and our ancestors dream of green and biodiversity rich Kashmir may turn into a reality, which could be obviously, a best tribute to them.
Mir Faizan Anwar can be reached at: [email protected]
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.