Beyond coils of concertina wire symbolizing another day of battered lockdown in Srinagar, the appearance of Pir Panjal peaks has come as a captive sight to behold amid pandemic. What used to hide behind the blanket of bad air has now emerged on the horizon to the delight of sightseers.
Inside the iconic Dal Lake, it’s a perpetual struggle between life and lifelessness.
As a bunch of boatmen row their empty Shikaras ashore, the lake holds a vintage promise, even as desolation dominates the striking sight.
Carrying an archetypal reflection of Kohi-Maran fort and the Hazratbal Shrine in its lap, the lake looks uplifting, with the magnificent Pir Panjal Range as its background.
Amid limpness of life, the sight turns many heads towards the sanctum standing on the horizon with reverence.
On streets, life remains caught in the throes of restrictions.
Behind drop-gates, the street regulars hold batons and guns, as motorists halt and produce travel passes, before making any move ahead.
Pedestrians and hawkers wear masks on streets to signify the new mandatory routine.
In the face of the recent rattling strikes in frontier north, the law enforcers, mainly paramilitary men, apparently adhere to suspect all, inspect all motto, while enforcing the strict street order.
Some of them turn ‘whistle-blowers’, if, by any chance, a biker pulls over nearby their line of duty.
Absence of signature Ramzan market has further unleashed a sorrow of lifelessness in Srinagar.
In trade heartland, Lal Chowk, the clock tower, whirled with razor-wires, shades a sentry enforcing its writ in the middle of the deserted square.
Thoroughfares connecting the South Asia’s second oldest city with countryside are witnessing no or least traffic.
With Kashmir witnessing yet another digital curfew following the killing of Kashmir’s most wanted insurgent commander recently, people are grappling with weary indoors, as mobile internet has been suspended again.
While work for home has gone for a toss, students are getting impatient for their online classes.
And yet, as the basic connectivity remains hostage to drawn-out “security situation” in the valley, people have been left to fend for themselves in the state of lockdown.
Many people, however, seem unrelenting, as they keep the ‘Kashmir Spirit’ alive in this crisis hour, by acting as pandemic barbers, community supporters, and Samaritans in all walks of life.
But these everyday struggles for life conveniently get sidelined, as the uplifting landscape of the city takes precedence.
On the ground, as men and machinery are leading the official fight back response against Covid-19, the life seems signifying its importance through sacred and serene symbols.
However, as splendid Pir Panjal peaks are smiling over the sullen city, Srinagar slouches against the empty streets, shut shops, and connectivity woes.
Inside Dal Lake, as the sundown is nearing, the long-faced boatmen are returning home, from another day of no work, and worry.
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.