For the seventh consecutive time, I had the unique opportunity to be a part of the 10th Young Thinkers Meet, 2021 organized by the India Foundation. This time it was in Jammu & Kashmir. It was an ideal location for the spirit of Nationalism. My mixed emotions of curiosity, anxiety and excitement led me to participate with full enthusiasm.
In these 3 days during the conference, I came to know Jammu and Kashmir under a magnifying glass. Different perspectives of administrator, political leader, security official as well as, a perspective of local Kashmiri gave a kaleidoscopic viewpoint for the entire region.
Jammu and Kashmir is undoubtedly blessed with beauty. Due to its history, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been witness to conflicting situations throughout their generations. The tranquillity brought by the terrains of Himalaya had seldom effect over ordinary life of Kashmiri in few areas and that is a reason that the society is valiant. They have seen unimaginable situations causing deep emotional, financial and social Impacts, that are going to last longer than we can think. They are closer to the realities of life and find peace in their faith.
After listening to different vantage points on Kashmir, I caution that we don't draw inferences for the entire community by few strain incidents. They have witnessed circumstances that can shake the very existence of humanity and hence the identity of Kashmiris cannot be placed in one jacket. It would be perhaps a mistake when quick judgements are made about them without knowing the intent behind it. High dependence on the media and certain sections of people may result in misconceptions.
Amidst all the internal discontent amongst the People of Jammu, POJK, Ladakh and Kashmiri Pandits, the warmth and love they have for the nation is unmatchable. The same spirit of togetherness I felt, even while visiting Dal Lake and Pahalgam. Their smile brings a sense of belongingness even as a first-time visitor.
Undoubtedly, it has extreme potential for development and can compete with other states with zeal after the abrogation of Article 370. Now, the people have held their hopes on change and development. The pains of history will soon be cured with new changes in the region.
My initial scepticism was resolved after interaction with all facets of the state factors including locals and I fairly confess that my perception of the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir and its people has changed drastically.
Amongst the lush green trees, the grey stories of houses need to be dealt with utmost sensitivity and compassion. Let us embrace their sentiments and sincerely acknowledge them as fellow Bhartiya, a duty we should abide by as citizens of the nation.