IIOJK in focus

Alienation among people of Kashmir at breaking point: Anuradha Bhasin

Chennai, November 03 (KMS): The situation in Jammu & Kashmir has not improved at all since August 5, 2019, and it would be an understatement to call it bad, says Kashmir Times executive editor Anuradha Bhasin.

The right description, according to her, could be that ground zero is sitting on the volcano on which a lid is placed by the shadow of the gun, which may explode the moment the bayonet is removed.

The Jammu-based veteran journalist made these observations while speaking at a webinar organised by the Centre for Peace and Economic Prosperity in South Asia. The topic of the discussion was: “Jammu & Kashmir after August 5, 2019 – Voices from Ground Zero”. The other speaker at the webinar was Firdos Baba, a social activist based in Srinagar. The webinar was held via Zoom meeting. Baba had a litany of vows.

“Alienation among people of the valley is at the breaking point, human rights remain a major concern, civil rights have lost its relevance, there is no end to militancy, the gulf between the rulers and the ruled has widened, the common people have no access to the administrators who are not the native of the land,” she added.

Answering a question about economic investment to be made in Jammu and Kashmir, Bhasin was of the opinion that investment is possible only when there is peace, and asked who will invest in a place where peace is nowhere on the horizon? Bhasin also held the view that the investment from the Indian government is mooted in the mining sector that has huge consequences on the ecological system of the region.

This point was further elaborated by Baba who said; ‘the glaciers here are melting fast, the region has lost 23% of the area in the last six decades. The glaciers in the Pir Panjal range are melting at more than one meter per year and the situation is no better for the Kolahoi glacier, the main source of water for the river Jhelum. “Kashmir valley may face major water scarcity in coming years due to the melting of the glaciers,” Baba said and added that “it will have a huge impact on agricultural productivity”.

Both the speakers were unanimous that a big silence is prevailing on ground zero due to the shadow of the gun. The peace is choreographed here, they said. ‘All the foreign diplomats who are brought to assess the situation on the ground are handpicked people and they are made to speak to only elective persons who are tutored before.’

Commenting on the media, Bhasin took pity on them for writing reports with the help of government handouts without speaking to the people and knowing their opinion on what has changed on the ground.

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