On a cloudy Thursday, on the 9th November, 2017, a vaporous, breezy morning in the valley of Kashmir, with serenity and a curious notion in my heart marked the very beginning of my jaunt from the valley to Delhi. I, along with a couple of my friends, went to a railway station and bought tickets. We were excited, content and enthusiastic about our journey. On a platform I found people pretty excited than us. We were anxiously waiting for a train. Finally, the train arrived at 9:30am. We got a seat in first row of the compartment and I sat in the midst of my friends.
After some time, I noticed some of the persons, who were beside us discussing the political scenario of the Kashmir, which animated me. Being a student of South Asian politics, I found discussion as more interesting rather than listening to music, but unfortunately I missed the chance; so, I opened the zipper of my bag and pulled out a book and began reading it.
As we reached Banihal, we boarded a bus bound for Jammu – the City of temples. We had a delicious lunch with daal (lentils) and ghee. Upon observing Jammu, what struck me visibly and clearly is that Jammu is very much developed than Kashmir: the roads are cleaner, better and wider; flyovers are built in a way where there are very little chances of traffic jams and snarls. The Municipal Corporation of Jammu keeps the city spick and span. Overall, it dawned upon me that the state government devotes more attention towards Jammu than Kashmir.
I along with my friends looked for a comfortable vehicle which would take us to Delhi. Finally, our search was over when we found a comfortable vehicle. Our journey commenced during the night. While travelling, I noticed that the various cities that we passed by looked more beautiful during night hours than daytime. The street lights were well decorated and lit, sideshow of roads were nicely maintained. No doubt it will take India some time to become a developed nation in every field.
Finally, we reached Delhi. It was clear to me that the Delhi government was much focused on ground work than mere rhetorical proclamations. At each step, I found some interesting hoardings which mainly focused on education. As per reports, the young generation of India which can read and write is around 92% and that too between the age group of 12-14 years.
I stayed with my friends who are pursuing their masters in Jamia Millia. My friends went to Aligarh that night. Next day, I went to Jamia Millia, and the first thing which I noticed was the statue of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib Sahib (unfortunately with a broken index finger). I wish the administration of the university could look over that statue and repair the same. The most important thing is when I was in Jamia, my friends called me and told me to attend a seminar which was organized by the Knowledge Circle; there, I found the students discussing the ongoing situation around the world which was quite interesting.
On 11th November, I had to attend a seminar which was organized by the “Abu Kalam Azad Foundation” on his day around his graveyard. Abu Kalam Azad was a scholar and the senior Muslim leader of the Indian National Congress during the independence movement of India. Moulana Abu Kalam Azad is considered one of the greatest Urdu writers of the 20th century. He has written many books including “India Wins Freedom; Ghubar-e-Khatir, Tazkirah”. He has also written a Tafseer of the Quran known as “Tarjumanul Quran”.
At this seminar, I interacted with some of the seniors hailing from different states and, honestly speaking, I found humanity in them. It validated for me the saying, “Respect others you will be respected”.
Being a Kashmiri, I was scared to stay with outsiders, as my seniors, relatives, friends always told me that staying outside the valley is too dangerous because whole of India considers us atankwadis’. But it was quite the other the way round, as students and even some journalists showed their sympathetic nature and gave me utmost respect in that seminar, that I had not imagined in my wildest imagination. Among them a senior citizen, Rakesh Agarwal, a professor and his son Deepak Agarwal invited me for dinner. I, initially refused to as I was apprehensive but finally I accepted their invitation. They reside at Govind puri. After few minutes, we reached the Professor’s house who introduced me to his wife (Sunita aunty) and told her, “Meet my friend from Kashmir. She hugged me and kissed on my forehead and told me, “My son, be comfortable. This is like your home, and I felt the same. Over dinner, I discussed many things related to Kashmir with them and at the end they promised me they would soon come to valley. And around 1pm, I asked them, if I could leave, but sir didn’t allow me nor did his wife but finally I motivated them and his son Deepak dropped me where I was residing. Honestly, I felt that I was in a home away from my home.
Post script: No matter whether you live in a Kashmir or outside Kashmir, you must not lose faith in humanity
—The author is a student of University of Kashmir. He can be reached at: [email protected]