Golden Chinar Survives Bloody Autumn
5 October 2003
The Daily Excelsior
Dr. Jitendra Singh
Jammu: Kashmir revisited can never be an unpleasant experience. Even if it follows the last visit hardly about two months ago. Obviously therefore, the Medicine Update Conference held at Srinagar's picturesque venue SKICC on September 27-28 and an invitation to deliver a Diabetes lecture during the conference came as an opportunity for yet another sublime sojourn in the Valley of Paradise at a time when autumn is gradually aheading for its prime. One of the several unique features of Kashmir is that its autumn is as beautiful as its spring. If Kashmir spring is the ultimate destination for young honeymooners and lovers exploring mysteries of romance, the Kashmir autumn is the ultimate destination for unrequited passions, nostalgia and memories of a withered bygone symbolised by the 'Golden' Chinar. Remember - even Indira Gandhi - - the acknowledged warrior and victor of many a battles in political and personal life - made it a point to quietly unwind herself before the autumn Chinar of Kashmir year after year till 1984 before she fell to an assassin's bullet just a few weeks after one such visit. After a relatively peaceful summer, the autumn 2003 in Kashmir is unexpectedly violent. Encounters, killings and counter- killings. Different reasons have been attributed for this sudden bloody escalation. Some describe it as a fall-out of Baba Ghazi's killing in the hands of the BSF. Some attribute it to a fresh influx of militants following the melting of snow on mountains. Whatever it be, an alarming note is struck by the press disclosures quoting Army sources that over 3000 foreign mercenaries with arms and ammunition are still at large in the region. There are also reports that militants are equipped with missiles which can even target aircrafts and aeroplanes. This means that security forces have a tough job ahead and that the militant designs will have to be effectively foiled if the Valley is to sustain the advantage of a successful tourist season after several unrewarding summers. With the arrival of mobile phones and other hi-tech niceties, the local people of Kashmir are inclined to join the mainstream of rapid developmental strides undertaken by the rest of the country. 'Azaadi' or 'No Azaadi' is a separate issue which an average Kashmiri is not interested to rake up for the time being and that is why he consciously avoids engaging himself in any public discussion on the subject. He is also not much impressed by the loud rhetoric of politicians of various hues. His immediate priority is to ensure that his children are not left deprived of the globalised avenues of education and employment. It is now up to the 'true' well-wishers of Kashmir and particularly the well-meaning Muslim intellectuals of the country to gather courage and raise their voice against Musharraf's self-serving design to disrupt the peace and prosperity of the Muslim brethren living in Jammu and Kashmir. Export of terrorism has emerged as a worldwide phenomenon threatening to devour the very perpetrators of this phenomenon which means that Pakistan too cannot remain unharmed for long. The fight against terrorism needs to be undertaken unitedly with a vociferous support from the Kashmiri masses. The will of Kashmiris and the soul of Kashmriat is bound to survive very much like the Golden Chinar which survives Kashmir's bloody autumn thus heralding the eternity of common man, the inherent viability of Umapathy unintimidated by every hostility, a La Iqbal, 'Kuchh Baat Hai Ke Hasti Mit-ti Nahin Hamaari.....'