Srinagar: Instead of staying away from the curfewed streets and the besieged villages, a good number of Kashmiris living outside Kashmir are returning to the Valley on the occasion of Eid.
Director of Srinagar’s Sheikh-ul-Alam Airport, Sharad Kumar said that the inbound passenger traffic has increased this year as compared to past years. “There is an increase of 20% in the number of passengers arriving than it was last year. To manage the rush we have arranged additional flights from Delhi to Srinagar,” Kumar said.
Asim, a doctor working in South Korea, has come to Srinagar after two years. He said he came because he wanted to be part of the “uprising” and wanted to “contribute in one way or other”. Expressing optimism, he said, “I did not want to lose an opportunity of being part of the uprising. We are at a decisive phase now and you never know what can happen. We could even achieve our goal of Azadi,” he said with a cheerful smile.
Expressing similar views, Riyaz Ahmad of downtown Srinagar said that he felt an “urge” to return even though he was advised not to by his family members. “Everyday they (family) would advise me on phone to not come to Kashmir, as the situation here was very bad, but despite repeated attempts by my family to thwart my return, I came back to be at home at a time when it is being destroyed by the enemy (India),” said an emotional Riyaz.
Riyaz, a professor who works in Saudi Arabia, said that he had missed the “charged” atmosphere of downtown. “I was missing the slogans and the rallies. I wanted to make sure that I participated in one,” he said.
Not only those who work as employees outside are returning, but even those who had gone to various Indian states for business purposes during the festival season of Ganesh Utsav and Durga Puja, are also coming back. Ghulam Mohammad, a resident of Hazratbal area who sells Kashmiri Handicrafts in Kolkata, said, “No matter how worse the conditions get here, one always wants to return to the Valley. There is something in the air of our homeland that makes us come back, even if it means getting killed,” he said.
“Given that we are under continuous siege, it seems one would want to go away from it, but we Kashmiris are different, we feel we are betraying our cause by staying away from our nation when it is facing a crisis,” he added.