As Indians, it’s highly unlikely that one wouldn’t know the state of affairs in the valley of Kashmir. Kashmir, once known as the most beautiful place on earth and a major tourist attraction in India, has now been reduced to a land cursed with terrorism, violence and tragedy.
While some side with the army, some side with the government and some with the separatists, the primary reason for the perturbation of the people of Kashmir is more to do with their psychological state.
Amidst the violence and politics, the psychological repercussions on the minds and health of the people of Kashmir have been often neglected and not discussed as much.
People from the other part of the country often look at Kashmiris with contempt in regard to the latter’s animosity towards the army and “Indians” in general. There is a lack of understanding of why the people of Kashmir are the way they are. Or why they feel such animosity towards other citizens of India, and why some of them regard themselves as separate from the rest of India.
One of the most relevant events that took place in the history of Kashmir was the Article 370 that was introduced after 1947. The Article 370 grants the state of Jammu and Kashmir to have its own Constitution. Many people believe that the Article has been nothing but a wall between India and the state of Jammu and Kashmir while others argue how it serves as a bridge between the two.
Article 370 allows the state to prefer the state’s citizens for employment under the state government, acquisition of immovable property in the state and settlement in the state, among other things.
Though the Modi-led government is keen on abrogating the article, the inhabitants of the valley feel the consequence of repealing the article might cause distress in the state just when peace is knocking on its door. Interestingly, the people of the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir share the same opinion. They feel the article helps them preserve their land and in doing so, ultimately the environment.
While many people took offence to the movie Haider and the way certain activities of the army under the AFSPA act were depicted in the movie, the inhabitants of the valley related to it well. The Indian army is a very well respected organization unlike the Pakistani army that has a background of dictatorship, but there have been enough cases in the past that prove that undivided power in the hands of a few only leads to catastrophic results.
It is important to note that when we talk about Kashmir, we can’t just talk about facts and politics. There are other factors that need to be considered. There is a psychological debate here which needs to be taken into consideration.
Houses being raided, search parties, properties being damaged and houses being burned, these have been the day to day activities in the valley. Most people have grown up watching this and have hence spent a majority of their lives in the violence. These activities have created an air of insecurity and anxiety in the lives of Kashmiris.
How does a life filled with humiliation, threat, physical and psychological abuse affect your preferences and sensibilities? Does such a life ever result in a sense of safety?
To top their horrid past and unpleasant present, the hopelessness and dearth of future prospects further add to the depression of the people.
Mental health is an issue affecting India at large, with India being considered as one of the most depressed nation in the world, even more so in the valley. And yet this is something that we never talk about.
Mainly because it is not a generalist approach, here one has to consider each and every individual and that is evidently very difficult in a country as big and diverse like India.
Kashmir today is a valley of lifeless people, some living with suicidal tendencies, some living with the bleakness of a future and some merely existing.
Article 370 is fairly irrelevant in the lives of the most of the rest of India, but it is sacred to the Kashmiris. A solution here seems difficult as any kind of a stance in the case of the troubled valley can lead to unprecedented chaos.
Many suggest a plebiscite, to see if the locals want to join “India” or not.
But what if the result is not favorable to India? What then? Who decides the fate of these people then? Do they have a shot at happiness at all?
Only the future can tell.
Future; the idea of which the people of the valley have given up already.
(The views and opinions expressed here are personal).
Cover Image Source: IBN-Live.