Editorial: Time To Script Naya Kashmir

When Robert H. Schuller wrote “Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future”, he was probably referring to an individual’s strive against odds on coursing for a better future. However, it is perhaps none truer for the land that is Kashmir and none more so, than now, in this raging Pandemic.

As the fight against Covid rages on all over, Kashmir has to believe its long borne ideals that has sustained this heaven on earth for centuries and nurtured its peoples through varied odds and obstacles. And at its core, lies its unique characteristic, its Kashmiriyat.

Kashmiriyat as an ideal is intrinsic to the people of Kashmir wherein the inclusive and unique cultural values of the people of Kashmir is depicted at its very fore. The unique nature of Kashmiriyat lies in its essence of pluralism, the ethos and spirit of inclusivity amongst the people of Kashmir espousing inclusivity andsocial harmony.

History Of Kashmiriyat

The essence of Kashmiriyat is found in apt resonance in the Sufi traditions engraved in the customs and beliefs of the people of Kashmir and has been popularised through the centuries by the Pirs and their immense following.

Kashmiriyat suffered immensely during the years pre- partition era wherein the fanning of communal flames by the forces against the idea of a united India sought to lay destruction through the fracturing of communities especially in Kashmir which was the bone of contention during the 1948 war initiated by the state of Pakistan and its proxies. Through the decades hence, the ideal of Kashmiriyat has been a subject of ire of such forces who have sought to rid the Valley of such pluralistic outlook and therein, sow the seeds of disharmony and chaos.

This ideological siege was central to the activities of the Pakistani state and its proxies in the 1980-90s in their quasi-military path towards arming militants for fuelling insurgency in Kashmir. The attempt has always been to strip Kashmir of its unique and harmonious life and fuel it with vitriol and virulence and therein, completely change the identity of the region and the narrative of the people.

In a counter against such times and circumstances, the affirmation to Kashmiriyat was provided by PM AtalBehari Vajpayee in his clamour of Insaniyat, Jamooriyat and Kashmiriyat as a clarion call for resurging this inherent social syncretism. This clarion finds relevance even as we power through successive ebbs and rises in social upheavals and changes amidst periods of chaos and lockdowns and normalcy.

Kashmiriyat In the Pandemic

The Covid pandemic has swept through and ravaged the world at large and India has been a pandemic hotspot. Kashmir has borne the brunt of this intense emergency as well. The extraordinary situation that the pandemic has created has had serious social ramifications with lockdowns being imposed and the whole society coming to a standstill. Medical emergencies are abound and health services are stretched thin. This social juggernaut has pummelled social coherence into a tizzy and thus, demanded the best from each and every Kashmiri stuck in this storm.

With the pandemic storm raging, the clarion call for Kashmiriyat is greater than ever. A society in harmonious reach for working together is what is expected. A strive towards an example of pluralistic social situation where citizens looking out for each other, devoid of class, religion or ethnic divide. As authorities scramble for collective actions, individuals must step up for the vulnerable and the ones in their periphery. Those in need must be provided for better placed others.

Kashmiriyat has to prevail now more than ever and set an example as a shining beacon of hope for a land stuck in protracted contestations of chaos and bloodshed. It must seek within its beliefs and centuries old strength and prevail against forces internal and external, against those that stand against normalcy, against health and well-being and thus, life itself.

The Way Forward

The current situation is grim and with ever increasing numbers of infections, the civic authorities are issuing directives with a war footing. There exists a civic lockdown in force and the health services are stretched thin and thus, the Army with its immense resources and ability to deal with catastrophes has been extending its helping hand in any and every manner it can.

With the opening of military hospitals to civilians being heralded with widespread applaud, army personnel are being deployed en masse in support to their civic counterparts in the midst of this gargantuan wave of human despair.

Army personnel are actively extending their outreach to civilians across the remotest regions of Kashmir through health and other civic prerogatives, helping the local Kashmiris in their hour of utmost need. This is symbolic of the symbiotic relationship of a people’s army at its very best.

However, this is where the spirit of Kashmiriyat is more relevant than ever, when we are tested by the impending possibilities of a pandemic tsunami at our doorstep, we all play our part to the best of our abilities and extend our basic capabilities to anyone and everyone in need. This is the Kashmir that can and will overcome this pandemic and moreover, the chaos that has ravaged these lands for decades, providing a possibility for a brighter future and a new dawn, reminiscent of the times of yore, when peace and prosperity reigned the lands, and harmony prevailed over divide and destruction. A new dawn for a Naya Kashmir.

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