It has been about a fortnight since the Pulwama attack. This unfortunate attack has haunted many lives across India. To its response, many people across the states of India were after Kashmiris who were labelled as Pakistanis, terrorists, anti-nationals and what not. Thousands of students, who were studying outside of Kashmir, have returned to their homes. Many of them have been suspended by their respective institutional authorities and many of them were thrown out of their hostels and other residing places.
Some hotels went to the extent of putting up notices that Kashmiris arent allowed to stay and some shop owners mimicked British when they would say Dogs are allowed but Indians (Read Kashmiris here) arent. Many Kashmiris were beaten by self styled nationalist groups. People across India have shown that they dont want Kashmiris to be part of India; they just want that piece of land without its people. Social media posts of Kashmiris and other people who asked pertinent questions about the attack were considered as acts of treason. The hatred was taken forward by jingoistic news anchors who were trying to act as advisors to the people or bhakts. The governor of Meghalaya tweeted that Dont visit Kashmir, dont go to Amarnath Yatra for next 2 years, dont buy articles from Kashmiri tradesmen who come every winter, boycott everything Kashmiri.
Kashmiri students across India locked themselves inside their rooms and were living like hostages. Bajrang Dal and VHP activists (Organizations declared by CIA as militant groups) attacked many Kashmiri students in Dehradun. A friend over there told me that police couldnt stop them from attacking Kashmiris and when I asked why he said, here people say that they (Bajrang Dal and VHP) are above law. The social media was flooded with attacking videos of Kashmiri students, traders etc. but Prakash Javadker, union minister, denied all reports and said that there is no harassment of Kashmiri students. Such hypocrisy has instilled fear among Kashmiri students and are now afraid to return. Besides many colleges have announced that they will not admit any Kashmiri in their so-called colleges.
Scared that their children may fall prey to uncanny milieu of Kashmir, many parents spend their hard-earned money to send their wards out of valley in different parts of the country to seek education. This serves the double purpose of better life chances for the children later and their immunity from radicalization and chances of joining militant ranks or going astray. Once out of valley to pursue their dreams, Kashmirs young brigade has the potential to assuage the differences between Kashmir environment and rest of the country as they act as ambassadors of social exchange, thus fixing fissures and bringing integration.
However, ironically there have been numerous incidents where Kashmiri students have become victims of campus wrath in different universities and the hostilities are unimaginable after the Pulwama attack. Whole of nation was enraged on the death of 40 CRPF jawans, but how far is it justified to humiliate and demean a Kashmiri for something he has not done. He will take this on his dignity and later govt cries foul that youth of Kashmir are being radicalized. By labelling them as anti-nationals we only reinforce that kind of feeling and behaviour in them and asking them to leave the mainland India when something goes wrong is acknowledgement of fact that there is no space for them in mainland. Belongingness doesn’t come from sloganeering and crying hoarse in prime time jingoistic squabble on TV, it comes from gestures of kindness and empathy.
A Kashmiri outside the valley always tries to develop a good relation with the people of that particular state or region but he/she is made to feel that they dont belong here and all this is done by humiliating or beating them therefore a Kashmiri outside valley always feels demeaned and alienated from India. How come is it possible that the people from Kashmir, who can act as peace ambassadors between the conflicted valley and India are being beaten, will improve the ties between the valley and India. Tell me India, how do you consider Kashmir as your integral part when you dont want Kashmiris to be part of it?
Despite this hate, Khalsa Aid came to rescue of thousands of Kashmiri students and other Kashmiris across India. Sikh community was very helpful to all the Kashmiris who were outside the state and managed to bring them home. J&K Students Organization also helped hundreds of Kashmiri students to return their homes safely. Also, people from many states welcomed Kashmiris, who faced any kind of trouble, to their homes. Kashmir will never forget their hospitality and will be always be in debt to them mostly to the Sikh brothers or Khalsa Aid, their valor has gained a massive respect in the valley.
Besides, the media, be it TV or social, plays a great role in degrading the image of Kashmir. Most people in India know Kashmir through biased media and they also believe in it. The propaganda is well being played and it only favours so-called politicians. The good things that happen in the valley are never being celebrated. Indian media has done everything it can to spoil the image of Kashmir and Kashmiris.
The current situation in the valley is disturbing. Activists of Jamaat-e-Islami are being arrested since 23rd of February. It is like an undeclared emergency in the Valley. On 28 February, center banned the Jamaat-e-Islami, a socio-religious organization involved in a many humanitarian works especially in education sector. Its ban will impact the education sector severely as there are over 350 schools run by JeI. if these schools are sealed, as is the lkely outcome of the ban, more than 75000 students will become school less. Govts contribution in Education sector in Kashmir is almost negligible, banning the J-e-I schools will break the backbone of education sector in the valley.
There is a need of a political party which will be at least in favor of Kashmir as many other institutions in the Valley are in danger. The best would have been if there were our own good colleges in Kashmir so that it wouldnt have been necessary to study outside the valley. The center should look after the students who have been suspended by their respective colleges outside the state and Govt. should take the responsibility of the safety of Kashmiri students and other people from Kashmir in states across India. Governor of J&K should also take measures to solve the problems faced by Kashmiri students as thousands of carriers are at stake. The Govt. of India should take strong action against the perpetrators who harass Kashmiris outside the valley. Some strict actions should also be taken against the biased media and the jingoistic anchors should stop demonizing Kashmir and Kashmiris.
Center must take Kashmir issue seriously now and solve all the disputes so that we Kashmiris can live in peace. There is an urgent need of dialogue between India & Pakistan. It can be done by sitting across the negotiation table in the spirit of peace and friendship. It might take time to build trust in both the countries, but if it is not done now, it would lead to war like consequences. Lets hope the peace would prevail in all the three places.