The other day I was going through the channel list, a live TV debate pop up. It was about the sharply deteriorating conditions and protests across J&K state in general Kashmir in specific. And the panel comprises of 4-5 politician/activist of different political parties and organizations. For a moment I thought of resting my horses and see what they are really up to. To my disappointment it was a usual stuff you have been hearing all long ‘kashmir bharat ka ek vibaan aang hai..,’ ‘separatist should be send to jail’.. ’stone pelters in Kashmir get paid’ etc etc. In no time I understood that these self-proclaimed expert of J&K state don’t have even the slightest idea of the issue they are debating neither the panelist nor the anchor. In my opinion if you ask these experts ‘Do they know how many districts are in J&K?’ if not, ask ‘do they even know how many divisions are in J&K State?’ I won’t be surprised if they be caught pants down. For Indian media KASHMIR is just a cheap TRP. And their ‘K’ obsession is not new, it runs as old as early 90’s.
For readers I tell you I was born and bought up in Poonch, a beautiful town in the lapse of Pir-Panjal mountains, 240 km to the north of Jammu. The time I was born in early 90’s militancy was at its early stage. So you can say many of my generation kid had their childhood among bombs, bullets, curfew, cross-border shelling and Army. For a brief moment of time I was of the opinion it was a just normal thing. People all over the world be having same life as ours. Call it the innocence of a child or the irony of time. My parents were both government teachers and that point I don’t have the slightest idea how difficult their job is. Many of you can’t even imagine how difficult was it for many teachers like my parents to serve the masses in the most difficult terrain not just because of their reach or connectivity but been vulnerable to unprovoked cross-border firing and the unwanted guest at the school premises with guns in their hand. Readers who don’t know Poonch, Poonch is at the LOC and is the last district of Jammu divison. The geography of Poonch is such it make him vulnerable to both cross border shelling and militancy. And unfortunately we have been victim of both.
For readers I am from the minority community and majorities are the bravest Muslim Gujjar and Pahari community. Whose commitment for the country and unquestionable nationalism is by far as good as any other community of the country. I am even talking about is the understatement but time is as such I have to tell the world about it. Most would be surprised to know that about 1000’s men from Poonch fought in even the world war I. And let’s not talk about many of our men in Indian army and police. Post 1947 we have Trade links with middle east and Russia via Rawalpandi. We had our own hydel power plants for the town, a best drainage system in the country (the minars and pathers can still be seen at some places singing old glory). We even had the finest school of the generation called as Victoria Jubilee Memorial High School now called as Govt. Boys HSS Poonch. Quality of education as such we have produced the finest statesmen, poets, author, doctor and Army General. The ashes of Krishan Chandar, a renowned urdu wtiter of Asia, are buried in the soil of Poonch. You would be surprised to know two time officiating Prime Minister of India and Bharat Ratan receipt (1997), Gulzari Lal Nanda had passed memorable childhood in Poonch principality during the rule of local Dogra ruler Raja Baldev Singh. But as luck have it for place who knows what fate has store for us in the coming time. Traumatic experience of 1947 (Dangal-velle, as my grandmother calls it) took our two and half tehsil under illegal occupation of Pakistan. Not only our land but our dreams were taken away from us. But complacency is not in our blood, we never complained. Literally we started from the dust and in 2011 census Poonch has a avg. literacy rate of 77% while the average literacy rate of India was 74.07% and mind you we don’t have any university yet now in our district.
But after all this hardship and trauma what we get in return. NOTHING!.. NOTHING AT ALL..! Neither from the state government nor by the Govt of India.. We are still the most neglected region of the state. We still have 12 hour power cuts in a day. A town that was generating power post 1947, when many of the city of today India were on coal and woods is now facing a major power crisis. It looks like India has forgotten us. You the readers have forgotten us, in fact you were never be told about us . Because for many of you Kashmir is tourist, guns and stone. Sometime I feel , what if we too had pick up guns for a separate Poonch, to regain its old glory. Would there be live TV debate for us too? Would there be Prime minister packages for us too? Would our sons/daughters be also study aboard on government expenses? But the matter of fact is we didn’t pick up gun, because it takes a lot of courage to pick up the PEN than a GUN.