Kashmir, the most beautiful garrison on earth is my land and the land of yet many others; desperate people, desperate to be free in their own land, to breathe the air of peace. Whether it is by India or Pakistan, or China for that matter, this small piece of land is being pulled to tear from every corner.
Being a Kashmiri, I know what it means to be born in a place having extraordinary beauty and an even extraordinarily ugly political status – long undefined. While India calls Kashmir its integral part, Pakistan never fails to praise it as their jugular vein.
Consequentially, this land has been torn apart mercilessly and this crisis of identity has resulted in the UN calling one part as the Indian Administered Kashmir and the other as Pakistan Administered Kashmir.
I was born in the year 1992. Those years the militancy was at its peak. I grew up in an abnormal atmosphere of violence and trauma. Hearing the sounds of gunshots and blasts, with the course of time, became a normal routine in my life. Without any distinction of day or night, I witnessed our houses being raided by the Indian army who supposedly would be in search of militants.
My school life saw less of the school and more of confinement inside the four walls of my house, a burden of being born in a place ridden with conflict.
My childhood witnessed strikes, curfews and nonetheless living under the shade of guns more than anything else. I bear witness to Kashmir’s bloody days…with blood and flesh of kids, women and old stamped by the arrogant army with their divine power being backed by AFSPA. Now even after 20 years have passed and spending miles away from home, I realise not much has really changed.
The streets, the roads, the parks, and almost every nook and corner of the Valley is still filled with army men, with loaded weapons, more than the native population. Things may seem alright, but wounds of torture and the loss of loved ones is still fresh in the hearts of the people of this beautiful and yet ugly Valley. While the sentiment is much alive in the hearts of people, the only thing that has changed is their weapon; shifting from the era of guns to stone pelting. No, Kashmir has not given up on its struggle.
Kashmir is still seeking for a bent ear. It wants its cries to be heard, its identity to be redefined, and yet its scars to be healed.
The only way to reach the much awaited destination of peace is by coming together; from both sides of our land, united and free from the chains of unjustified power and dehumanizing forces. This beautiful prison wants to be free, from India and Pakistan, and therefore free from violence, murder and subjugation of basic human rights.
The partition of India in 1947 gave rise to a phenomenon of unrest in the entire South Asian region, with its many scars, Kashmir the worst. The scars will never heal, but for a solution of the Kashmir problem. Once it is done, all measures for peace in the entire larger region will be accomplished.
(The 20-year-old author is studying in Delhi University. The views are her own)