There may be many diplomatic overtures at home and abroad to resolve the vexed Kashmir issue but a common Kashmiri is hardly moved by any of them. What people here want is to get rid of the shadow of gun which dominates every nook and corner of the valley of wail.
The overpresence of security forces and tragic militancy related incidents which have become rather an order than an exception have a strong bearing on the psychology of denizens of Kashmir. A round the clock surveillence and constant check over the normal activities of the common men have made them all prisoners of fear psychosis.
Ask them of any of the viable solutions they will retort back saying, " we want to breathe free air, want to move around at our own wish". Over the years every part of the Kashmir valley has become a theatre of violence and bloodshed. Despite several policies and assurances given by the Central government to bring peace in the region, no concrete results are visible on the ground. People are craving for peace but if the situation on the ground is to be seen, as of now, no possibility of a lasting peace is in sight.
Measures like ceasefire, which miserably failed on the ground, reinforcement of paramilitary forces and deployment of battalions after battalions of the army have not been able to bring peace here. Rather these measures without a proper vision have more compounded the problem. Peace requires an amicable solution, a redressal of the internal dimensions of the problem which is not being looked into. Living an honourable life has become a nightmare for a common Kashmiri who is always a point of suspicion of the security forces.
"What agonises us most is that our credentials are always under doubt. A dozen of times a day we have to prove in our own home that we are the members of the home. Our every movement is under a constant check and subject to questioning. We donít know when the State Task Force or the Special Operation Group will pick one up for questioning and then no body is certain of the return", says a depressed fruit vendor on the bank of Dal Lake.
The Kashmir valley which was once known for its scenic beauty, splendor and fragrance of flowers is today better identified with the shadow of gun and smell of explosives. While travelling across the valley it appears that it is a land of soldiers with mixed population of the civilians. At every mile there is security check which is no doubt unavoidable under the present circumstances but this is what irks a common man who has nothing to do with the armed insurgency.
There have been many moves to end the turmoil in Kashmir, which may range from Autonomy resolution to the Agra summit. The political leaders, both mainstream and secessionist, share different opinions over these moves but they hardly matter to a common Kashmiri. If the people having no political inklings and are asked for a desirable and viable solution one is for sure to get a common reply. A college student, a shikarawala, a fruit vendor, a teastall owner... they all have a common suggestion, " first demilitarise Kashmir, give us a sense of honour and dignity and only then look out for solution. There canít be any solution with the problem continuously hovering over our heads."
It may sound bitter but is true that Kashmir may be an integral part of India but Kashmiris refuse to be. There is strong reason for that. Thousands of innocent lives have been lost in the years of strife because the views of the people have been constantly ignored.
Published in http://www.kashmir.co.uk/