Lockdown Valley

All my life I have wanted to visit Kashmir, but have been unable to go there. These are my thoughts as Kashmir continues to be in a state of lockdown after the Indian government’s decision to revoke Article 370 which had guaranteed Kashmir its special status all these years. It is a travesty of the democracy that we are otherwise so proud of.

Lockdown valley

The Valley of “unrest” is silent today;
Not a soul to be seen,
“Trouble” has been kept at bay.
The streets are deserted, except for thousands of troops;
Folks told to stay home,
While days play out in an endless loop.
 
The Valley is in lockdown
Nobody told the people why
No one asked for their views
Nor, indeed, did anyone try.
 
Families huddle together in utter confusion;
They have no way of knowing
What goes on beyond barbed wires
Even as the “promised” day is dawning.
People outside the Valley too know not what goes on there;
As if that is any consolation to folks
Whose earnings are falling and whose larders are bare.
 
The Valley is in lockdown
Nobody told the people why
No one asked for their views
Nor indeed did they try.

The leaves on the Chinar trees have
Started to fall early this year;
The gentle splash of Dal waters have
Frozen silent in fear.
Restive, restless, are words too often
Used to describe the people who dwell here;
Unrest, the condition they’re accursed with.

If mountain echoes could be hushed,
They too would die without so much as a whisper.
 
We’re in Lockdown Valley
Who knows how long we’ll be here;
Prisoners in their homeland,
Land, after all, is what the powerful hold dear.

If mountain echoes could be hushed,
They too would die without a whisper.

As we reflect on the future of Kashmir and its integration with the rest of India, it is worth reading what a few economists and constitutional experts have to say on the issue. Here are Jean Dreze, Prabhat Patnaik and AG Noorani on the “development” being promised to the people of Kashmir.

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