Is war the only option left to resolve ‘Kashmir samasya’? Hope not!

We need to stop India from bleeding any more! Leaving Kashmir, an integral part of India, to be raped and sullied by Pakistan-sponsored separatist elements can no longer be India’s policy. The way things stand, there appears to be no solution to the problem of Kashmir. Talks and meeting between the two nations have happened so many times that it has lost all credibility. There is no expectation of resolution from these bilateral talks anymore.

India, Kashmir, Pakistan, Dal Lake

Too much blood has been spilt on our side. Instead of dragging the issue of who Kashmir belongs to, losing hundreds of people in the process, the Government should look for swift action and end it once and for all. Whatever it takes! The time is right too.

In Narendra Modi, we have a Prime Minister who has zero-tolerance policy against those who are laying false claims to Kashmir. Unlike his predecessor, Modi could be India’s best hope.

India, Kashmir, Pakistan, Dal Lake

India will not cede Kashmir because it belongs to it, and Pakistan won’t back down because it doesn’t want to back down. It has become an ego issue, Pakistan has shown aggression on so many occasions, resulting in loss of so many lives, that it’s time to put Kashmiris out of their misery. My experience has left a very bad taste in my mouth…

Growing up, I fantasized about vacationing in Kashmir. It had so much to offer… humble people who welcome tourists with open arms, snow-capped mountains, the beautiful lakes, like the Dal lake which is famous for Gondola rides, the weather and so much more.

India, Kashmir, Pakistan, Dal Lake

The day for my dream to come true was finally around the corner and I couldn’t contain my excitement. I am a working professional and because of the high pressure nature of my job, I really thought Kashmir would refresh me, add a fresh lease of life. I was looking at returning home from vacation a rejuvenated person.

After a 2-hour flight, we reached Srinagar, our first spot in Kashmir, where we booked our House Boat. It was supposed to have been a memorable moment but turned out to be forgettable. The beauty of Kashmir lies in the fun moments experienced by tourists but it was all deserted. We were the only people doing the Shikara ride. The Dal Lake seemed contaminated and humanity was absent. The owner of the house boat revealed to us that the business has suffered greatly because of all kinds of terrorist activities.

India, Kashmir, Pakistan, Dal Lake

We even saw a few people who raised Pakistani Flags just to express their solidarity with the neighbouring country, to incite reactions. There were skirmishes that disturbed peace and tranquility. We thought we were in a different place, not kashmir, the paradise on earth.

Next morning, we all were curious to see the famous gardens of Srinagar – Shalimar Garden, Mughal Garden, Nishat Garden, Chashmashahi Garden and many more. The gardens appeared to be ignored. It seemed there was no one to tend to it. We discovered that the attractions of beautiful gardens faced huge setbacks because there are hardly any people visiting. I wept for my Kashmir, I even wondered why I was even here.

We also went to Lal Chowk to see the city life of Srinagar, but I sensed insecurity and fear among even the locals, let alone tourists, who were hardly there. The image of Kashmir has been molested at the hands of separatist elements and we saw first-hand how living in Kashmir must be challenging and tough. The place seemed to me like an old-fashioned village.

Our next destination was Pahalgam, the place was beautiful. But Manali and Sikkim are no less. It was just like any other hill station. We did adventurous horse riding but were the only ones doing so. There was a time when I used to see people throwing snowballs at each other in jest, there was an abundance of house boats with people form every part of India, making Kashmir look like a true paradise. Alas, it is in the past now.

The next day, we left for Gulmerg and Sonmerg, where we saw lots of snow and nothing else. The main charm of Gulmerg is Gandola ride, which was extremely expensive because there was hardly any demand.

My Kashmir is tainted with blood, tears and terror. Human Rights are abused, it ranges from mass killings, forced disappearances, torture, rape and sexual abuse to political repression and suppression of freedom of speech. The Government of India needs to take a bold stand and close the long-standing discord involving India and Pakistan once and for all.

I will wait for the day when I can once again set foot on the soil of Kashmir and come back with life-long memories to cherish.