Dr. Khwaja Ekram
Beauties and tragedies of the ‘City of Joy’
God has given all its blessings to Kashmir. We come to know about beauty only after coming here. In other words we can understand the real meaning of beauty after looking the scenaries here. As the Kashmir is full of natural beauties, its people are also rich in their nature. I got the opportunity to meet different types of people here. I tried to deeply understand their feelings and the expression of their words. But it was a very difficult job to ingore all the hypothesis I have been going on. I often listen people speaking about the misdeeds of Kashmiri people. But I never believed these sayings because people living in any part of the world, are the creatures of God and such hypothesis will surely displease God also. That is why I never suspected anyone and tried to meet them with good gestures and talked with them on different topics. People of Kashmir as a whole are soft spoken, kind hearted and good in their behaviour. As poeple say that these qualities are necessary for the residents of any tourist spot, people of Kashmir also fulfill this saying. But it is not right to link their behavior with their professions. It is injustice towards them. Due to this hypothesis people do not try to look into their hearts. People of Kashmir are self respected and honored. They are proud of their identity and culture. They are not ready to damage their pride in any way. If respected they are ready to present their hearts to any one.
We reached Sri Nagar on 12th May. Dr. Bilal, Lecturer of Sri Nagar B.Ed. College had already booked a hotel near Dal lake for us. We reached straight to the hotel from Sri Nagar Airport. The hotel was really a grand one. We opened its windows towards the lake. We were taking the taste of Kashmir’s air and its beauty. My dauthter, Sana Fatima who was feeling hungry on the way to hotel from the Airport, forgot her hunger after looking the scenary. Dr. Bilal came to meet us after some time. He invited us to go for an outing at the evening but we thanked him for his offer. When he left, we decided to hire a Shikara (boat on Dal lake) and have a tour of Dal lake. Then suddenly phone bell rang. It was N. Ameen who wanted to meet my wife and children immediately but apologized for unable to join us due to curfew. We borded on a Shikara and took a tour of Dal for almost two hours. It was a pleasant tour. Nisar, owner of Shikara was not happy with us because we did not fulfill his desire to visit his house.
Dal lake is the beautiful place of Sri Nagar. it is surrounded by mountains from all four sides. Its water is very clear and transparent. House boats, hotels on Dal lake, and floating markets are the beauty of Kashmir.
Chashm-e-Shahi, Pari Mahal, Shalimar and Nishat gardens and Hazrat Bal are situated near the same Dal lake. We cannot express the beauty of the water of Chashm-e-Shahi in words. After coming here people forced to think that if the world is so beautiful then how beautiful will be the heaven. When I was talking with my wife and daughter while sitting in Nishat garden, then a phone call came of a scholar of Kashmir University. He expressed his wish to meet us. We invited him to come and join us there. He came. We were very happy to see him because he offered us to take us for an outing and to see the beauty of Kashmir. We accompanied him to see Hazrat Bal and other places and talked on the culture and civilization of Kashmir. My wife and me was shocked after hearing that parents of Kashmir face utmost difficulty in the marriages of their children. These difficulties are related with baseless rituals and for dowry. Poor parents do not afford to make 30-40 types of meel. Guests are served with polythene bags also to take remaining food to their home, after eating. But it is shocking to see that no one has raised voice against this ritual so far. This is the main reason due to which most parents face difficulty in marrying their children, but no politician talks about this bad ritual.
13th May was also the day of strike, so we planned to go to Gulmarg. Gulmarg (Field of floweres) is situated 50 km away from Sri Nagar. We reached there by afternoon. Everyone who visits Kashmir, surely comes to see Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Dal lake. But, state government never gave attention to repair the roads. We hired horses to climb the height till 5 km. I met with a local resident, Tanwir, who was very much interested in telling the stories of his state. He told us that this is his only source of income. Due to non-availibility of opportunities these men come in large numbers here daily to serve the tourists. He earns only 300 rupees in a day. When I asked him that whether government not do anything for them, he replied that government has never done anything for them. He admired the days before 80s. These news broke my heart.
I have been in touch with the teachers of Kashmir University. We went to meet Prof. Shafiqa Parveen, Director of Distance Education, on her centre. It was an urgent to meet her because she had managed for our stay in University Guest House, but we went to stay in a hotel near Dal. We had to apologize her for this. She also invited us to come next time and stay at her house. We also met there with other colleagues of Shafiqa Parveen. Then we returned to our hotel and decided to take a room in House Boat. We stayed at Pamposh House Boat, but it was very costly.
But the great tragedy is that state government never took a pain to look after its people and understand their problems. Nisar, Shikara owner always give me a call after every two or three days. We appreciate his friendship. He told us that his earnings are linked with tourism but tourists fear to visit the valley. He appreciated Mufti’s government for promoting tourism in the state, but his government is no more now. He expressed his hopelessness from Omer Abdullah’s government.
I witnessed broken roads everywhere. Every auto and taxi driver was complaining about the government. I also tried to know their feelings about Pakistan. All of them told us that Pakistan loves Kashmir but not the Kashmiris. They are also not happy with separatist leaders and are helpless due to routine strikes by them. They also told us that separatist leaders hire youths for pelting stones, on 2-3 hundred per day. I wrote all this so that state government must realize the feelings of its own poeple and do someting for the development and better future of Kashmir.
The state is still lacks many facilities instead of having unimaginable beauty. Government as well as people of Kashmir are responsible for these conditions. People were misguided on the name of freedom. Thousands of youths gave their lives on the name of false promises and myrtiredom. It is a reality that no leader was killed who gave the slogan of freedom to youths. Poeple were forced to bear the burden while leaders took every type of facilities and relief. Now poeple are in favour of democracy and want to put their demands before the government of India in a democratic manner. It is true that we should follow democratice ways in a democratic country. We pray that peace be restored in this peace loving state soon and people live a peaceful life here.