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Amidst the violence set back to education goes unheard

Amidst the violence set back to education goes unheard
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The miseries of Kashmiris have never really found a listening ear

Adnan Shafi

Kashmiris have seen bloodshed, militancy, communalism, a macabre exodus and the constant fear of losing their sons or even their own lives to this turmoil. It is hard to imagine that a valley, so peaceful and stoic, harbors within it the unrest that can equal the spouting of hot lava from a volcano, upon being unleashed.

Kashmiris have always maintained that they love their homeland and cannot part with it despite the troubles they face every day. They go about their daily lives, laughing, smiling, crying and feeling all that other people feel in myriad situations. Their life has not come to a standstill and yet, it has not picked up the pace of development that other parts of the country have.

Kashmir is almost a little slice of heaven on earth. The people love their land, over which they have the sole rights. The people have continuously debated even among themselves about the country to which their land belongs while some feel it belongs on its own.

This concept of “Azadi” or freedom has percolated into the deepest corners of the hearts of the people who are yet to come to a consensus as to what this freedom essentially entails. The people have witnessed several movements in the name of freedom. A normal day in Kashmir often includes the news of encounters, militants being caught, killed- become routine to either hear about or witness some sort of violence every few days.

Capturing the mood of turmoil in some of my verses “Lull is there, ay, lull is there ; On the lane along Srinagar’s Dal lake; tholing the buzzers and squealing dins, ay, ay ,of wagons plying on the road; Sightseers, Indian or foreign, They too have left.

Blank are houseboats; The boatmen, ay, the boatmen are napping Or Sitting idly on their Shikaras.”

There is a pall of gloom over the homes. Parents fear for the lives of their children and yet, poverty, lack of education and the insensitive political scenario in the valley pushes them into the clutches of violence, which they believe shall enable their families to lead more prosperous lives.

Many Kashmiris have always been wary of the gun wielding personnel. Since the very beginning of the dispute, armed men have come to the valley to “crack-down” and for that very same reason they cordon-off a particular area due to which education suffers a lot.

The students have been the worst sufferers in Kashmir. Every other year, our education and schooling gets disrupted. School closures have been frequent in Kashmir.

Empty classrooms are a familiar sight in Kashmir, but so are local efforts to continue basic education amid the conflict so that the education of Kashmiris don’t suffer any more.

In locked-down neighborhoods, the local teachers and recent graduates open up unofficial community schools and tutoring centers staffed by volunteers.

Most importantly, education suffers a lot due to the ongoing internet blockade that has had an unprecedented impact on educational institutes and students alike. Nowadays, internet access for any student is much more than a need, it’s a way of life. We need the internet to complete assignments and watch lectures, to watch movies and stream music in our downtime, and to keep up with family and friends.

During internet shutdowns, we are not updated with anything about what is happening around the world. The national media does not show anything, local newspapers help a little bit but then there are restrictions, phone calls help sometimes but sometimes phones are also down and the internet too.

Students of Kashmir are feeling helpless and hopeless. They don’t have anything there now. No schools, no colleges, no jobs. Since August 5 there has been a complete shutdown in every sector. My words will not do justice to describe the situation of students in Kashmir.

Coming to the life of Kashmiris, in general; it is a normal and responsible one. The life of the youth does not revolve around the political agendas of the politicians. They have a beautiful culture which they wish to preserve and propagate as well

Most of the time, the biggest hurdle also to the expansion of tourism is the lack of internet services. SMS has been down since 2010. Schools are not developing and children are not finding ways of broadening their vistas in their beloved homeland itself.

The country, too, has never started to open its eyes to the plight of the Kashmiris. The biggest problem till modern day has been the mindset of the other parts of India with regard to Kashmir. It has always been looked at as a piece of land that is Integral to India, without giving much thought to the people living on this land.

Their miseries have never really found a listening ear with the government of the country and that has successfully isolated them even further. But with the rise of awareness and the people of this valley coming forward to voice their issues, things have been changing.

However, the concussion of conflict on education is diurnally going worse and students predominantly become the victim of it.

(The author contributes to Kashmir Vision)


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