A million plus Indians and foreigners visit Kashmir every year, as tourists, pilgrims, journalists, businessmen and researchers etc. feeling safe here and returning home happy. It is not just a matter of pride for the Kashmiri people but also a testament to their humanity as a conscientious society. But in the dominant narrative, mainly upheld and reiterated by the largest sections of Indian media, the average Kashmiris are often demonised while they are also the most unsafe in their own home. Home, that has been transformed into an open-air prison for them! In this beautiful prison, Kashmiri people are most often, in the standard narrative, demonised to the extent that an average Kashmiri’s very existence appears criminalised. They deal with the insecurities of life at home, inside the world’s most militarised zone, and are also treated like pariahs outside in Indian states where they must take every step with utmost caution lest they are condemned as ‘terrorists’. They are dispossessed of their dignity at home and abroad, where they may go for jobs, business or send their children for education in ‘safety’.
On an average a million Hindu pilgrims visit Kashmir Himalayas every year for darshan at the Amarnath cave shrine. The most elaborate security arrangements, involving army and almost all branches of the local government, are made for them to feel safe. Yet, on Wednesday when a bus carrying many pilgrims met an accident in southern Kashmir, even though convoys of paramilitaries and army secure them, they waved for help to numerous forces’ vehicles. According to one pilgrim who spoke on camera, none stopped for the pilgrims in trouble! Amid a stringent curfew and unrest, during which 36 Kashmiris have been killed brutally by the same forces in just five days, villagers when they noticed the pilgrims in trouble came rushing and extricated them from their stranded, damaged bus. “If you have to understand humanity Kashmir is the place where it embraces you,” a troubled pilgrim said in a video recording. From this incident it is clear that one of the main purposes of the very elaborate security arrangements made for the Amarnath pilgrims may be to portray to mainly the Indians, and also the world at large, that Hindus pilgrims face dangers to their lives while in Kashmir!
The environment in which the hosts themselves are in constant danger of being variously harmed by government forces, the visitors, be they tourists or pilgrims, attribute their safety to the hosts, who in turn are an ostensible the reason why the expensive and militarised security arrangements are made, the game of demonising is played out for the world. The only purpose could be to help neutralise as well as criminalise Kashmiri demands for the otherwise undeniable political rights!