THE BEAUTY OF KASHMIR DOES NOT LIE ONLY IN ITS LANDSCAPES, BUT IN THE RESILIENCE AND PENCHANT FOR LIFE OF ITS PEOPLE, WHO HAVE LEARNED TO LIVE IN THE SHADOW OF THOUSANDS OF GUNS. THE DAILY DEATH TOLL IN THIS HIMALAYAN RESORT REGION IS 10 TO 15 PEOPLE. THE TERRITORY IS DISPUTED BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN, WHO FOUGHT THREE WARS OVER ITS CONTROL AND SPLIT IT INTO TWO PIECES. THE CONFRONTATION TOOK A DEADLY TURN FOR THE PEOPLE OF KASHMIR WHEN A LOCAL ARMED STRUGGLE BROKE OUT 15 YEARS AGO, SEEKING EITHER A TOTAL AUTONOMY AND/OR ACCESSION TO PAKISTAN. AFTER 9/11, THIS FORGOTTEN CONFLICT, SEEN AS A NUCLEAR FLASHPOINT, DID ATTRACT ATTENTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY AND RESULTED IN A TRUCE BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN ALONG THE DISPUTED BORDER, BUT FAILED TO SETTLE THE PROBLEM AND BRING PEACE TO THE PEOPLE OF KASHMIR. IN 2004 ALONE, 720 CIVILIANS LOST THEIR LIVES IN THE CONFLICT. THE THREAT OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION IS NOW A PERMANENT FEATURE OF THE LIVES OF KASHMIR’S EIGHT MILLION PEOPLE, WHO HAVE LEARNT INNOVATIVE WAYS TO CARRY ON. WHENEVER THE SCHOOLS ARE SHUT IN PROTEST OR NEIGHBOURHOODS CORDONED OFF BY THE INDIAN ARMY RESTRICTING MOVEMENT, CHILDREN GATHER TO PLAY CRICKET GAMES. AND IF THERE IS TROUBLE ON THE LAND, BUSINESS GOES ON AS USUAL IN THE DAL LAKE, WHERE FLOATING VEGETABLE MARKETS HAVE COME UP IN BOATS. THE NORMAL FEAR OF A GUN-WEILDING SOLDIER OR A SEPARATIST MILITANT HAS CONSIDERABLY SUBSIDED AND LITTLE GIRLS CHAT ON PAVEMENTS WHILE INDIAN SECURITY FORCES PATROL THE LANES. Dec 18 2005. (image by javeedshah)
THE BEAUTY OF KASHMIR DOES NOT LIE ONLY IN ITS LANDSCAPES, BUT IN THE RESILIENCE AND PENCHANT FOR LIFE OF ITS PEOPLE, WHO HAVE LEARNED TO LIVE IN THE SHADOW OF THOUSANDS OF GUNS. THE DAILY DEATH TOLL IN THIS HIMALAYAN RESORT REGION IS 10 TO 15 PEOPLE. THE TERRITORY IS DISPUTED BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN, WHO FOUGHT THREE WARS OVER ITS CONTROL AND SPLIT IT INTO TWO PIECES. THE CONFRONTATION TOOK A DEADLY TURN FOR THE PEOPLE OF KASHMIR WHEN A LOCAL ARMED STRUGGLE BROKE OUT 15 YEARS AGO, SEEKING EITHER A TOTAL AUTONOMY AND/OR ACCESSION TO PAKISTAN. AFTER 9/11, THIS FORGOTTEN CONFLICT, SEEN AS A NUCLEAR FLASHPOINT, DID ATTRACT ATTENTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY AND RESULTED IN A TRUCE BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN ALONG THE DISPUTED BORDER, BUT FAILED TO SETTLE THE PROBLEM AND BRING PEACE TO THE PEOPLE OF KASHMIR. IN 2004 ALONE, 720 CIVILIANS LOST THEIR LIVES IN THE CONFLICT. THE THREAT OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION IS NOW A PERMANENT FEATURE OF THE LIVES OF KASHMIR’S EIGHT MILLION PEOPLE, WHO HAVE LEARNT INNOVATIVE WAYS TO CARRY ON. WHENEVER THE SCHOOLS ARE SHUT IN PROTEST OR NEIGHBOURHOODS CORDONED OFF BY THE INDIAN ARMY RESTRICTING MOVEMENT, CHILDREN GATHER TO PLAY CRICKET GAMES. AND IF THERE IS TROUBLE ON THE LAND, BUSINESS GOES ON AS USUAL IN THE DAL LAKE, WHERE FLOATING VEGETABLE MARKETS HAVE COME UP IN BOATS. THE NORMAL FEAR OF A GUN-WEILDING SOLDIER OR A SEPARATIST MILITANT HAS CONSIDERABLY SUBSIDED AND LITTLE GIRLS CHAT ON PAVEMENTS WHILE INDIAN SECURITY FORCES PATROL THE LANES. Dec 18 2005.
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