There is still a life full of fun and hope in Kashmir. Youths have promising careers and denounce the destruction. There is absolutely no fear of losing anything but all we need bit of being rational to understand the Kashmir and Kashmiris.
For quite some time, the newspapers and the electronic media channels have been painting Kashmir black. The life is shown disturbed with ever increasing militant related activities. Hardly a day passes when the national news channels would not debate the Kashmir situation while the print media is publishing the protesting and violence related pictures and news stories. The Kashmir is burning- the message being carried out by all but one media houses in the country. The projection of the scenes unfolding in the Border State in media was more alarming then what they might have been on ground, I assumed sometimes.
What was more painful to see the news channels flashing pictures of flags of ISIS and Pakistan being hoisted everywhere by the Kashmiri youth? The burning issue in media made me curious to know the ground reality and I packed my bag to land in the strife torn valley.
As I landed in Srinagar I straight way drove to the famous Dal Lake and accidently I encountered with a batch of students clad in white uniform- jostling alongside the shores in the serene environs. They were waiting for their schools busses amid the cool breeze of morning. I drew the first parallel here with the rest of country. I found all common here among these students with the students in rest of country except the soaring and frizzling mercury hitting almost all other states. I therefore, denounce what media portrays Kashmir.
I struck a conversation with Faeem Yawar- a class 10 student. Yawar aims high and wants to become a Cricketer and his only dream from childhood is to play for Indian cricket team. When asked why do students here pelt stones?
“Most of the students who pelt stones do it more out of “fun and adventurism” and then there is one more element that the schools remain off, so no studies,” he explains.
Yawar is well aware about the fact that the continues shutdown of schools and colleges is hitting the quality of education in Kashmir and has put the future of lakhs of students in jeopardy.
“Not every student of Kashmir wants to pelt stones but there are so many like me who want to make their mark in different fields and make the state and country proud. However some students that too in some particular areas of city have become habitual of stone pelting to enforce shutdown of educational institutions.”
Yawar has planned to leave Kashmir after two years to pursue his education and dream of becoming a cricketer in Delhi.
His friend Showkat stands next to him interrupts the conversation and says that he too is leaving Kashmir for Mumbai to find better career opportunities.
He wants to join the modeling as his brother is already in the same profession.
The duo had a made a resolve to not befriend with the boys who are pelting stones. Hirtik Roshan is Showkat’s role model and he practices in gym to draw the same attractive body fitness.
Next day I went to one of the prominent colleges on the outskirts of the Srinagar city where a Taekwondo competition was going on and students from different schools of Srinagar city and adjoining areas had come to participate that was again pleasantly surprising. The girls in the competition had outnumbered the boys.
I started my conversation with Half a dozen girl students all of whom were dressed in their Taekwondo uniforms by asking if stone pelting incidents are affecting their education and Sports activities like the one being organized today. All of them in unison said that their education is badly affected due to the recent unrest and there are only handfuls of youths who are doing it.
Disgusting was when they claimed that all of their schoolmates who could afford have left the valley to pursue their quality education. They could not afford and are suffering in the strife for their no sin.
Nadia said that she wants to become a Fashion Designer but there are not many institutes available in Kashmir valley which imparts such training and even not many in valley encourage girls to adopt such profession. However she insisted that she will pursue her career in the Fashion Designing in any case as her parents have always been supportive to her.
Another girl Shazia said that she wants to pursue her career in Taekwondo only and play for India and get laurels for the state as well as the country. However she added that the required sports Infrastructure and training facilities are missing and for any student to pursue his/her career in sports in Kashmir valley becomes a rarity and it needs to change.
Atika on being asked as who is her ideal, she said Dr. Shah Faisal who belongs to Kashmir and topped IAS exams in 2010 (All India Ranking). She also wants to pursue her career in Medical stream after which she wants to Qualify IAS exams so that she could also serve people and bring some change in the society.
I also spoke to some of the young boys who had also come to participate in the taekwondo event which even included Yawar who we had met one day before on Dal Lake.
He follows the cricketer Virat Kohli and hopes some day he will represent country as a cricketer.
With these mesmerizing conversations with the innocent souls I drove back to my hotel and pondered over what media feeds the common people across the country. There is still a life full of fun and hope in Kashmir. Youths have promising careers and denounce the destruction. There is absolutely no fear of losing anything but all we need bit of being rational to understand the Kashmir and Kashmiris.
The views expresses are authors are personal.