As the first multiplex for film screening opens in Srinagar, the message is loud and clear. A society that has long been feeling only a strain and huge pressures due to violence and insurgency is beginning to ease. Not that all is already well with the life in Kashmir — scenes of Pakistan-inspired terrorism and a matching offensive from the security forces for the past three decades cannot be so quickly erased. The multiplex with a seating capacity of 520 has the added attraction of a food court. Two multipurpose cinema halls in Pulwama and Shopian districts are already open. All these are bound to be of help in restoring the old glory of Kashmir as the paradise of tourism. It would mean plenty of jobs for the local youth.
Terrorist-sway through infiltrations from Pakistan had bled Kashmir and disrupted normal life. A turnaround was effected with a bold decision by the Centre in August 2019 through abrogation of the special status and also the state status for the province. Central rule was imposed. While the Opposition made a hue and cry, the Union Government stood its ground and, more importantly, made sure the protests lost its steam. Old politicians there have seemingly been neutralized and a new leadership profile is emerging. A veteran like Ghulam Nabi Azad, planning to launch his own party there, would look at the state of affairs anew; and the approaching elections there could lead to the establishment of a popular government. Azad has made it clear that he cannot promise the moon to Kashmiris and the ending of the special status is irrevocable. He’s being realistic, quite unlike most politicians of the day. This must be seen as a good sign for Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir requires a responsible leadership that can promote both economic growth and the cause of national integration. Creation of jobs for the youths is of prime importance.
Kashmir had always been a part of India. An old promise to the UN to hold a referendum shortly after Independence had not been implemented in letter and spirit. But Kashmiris have been participating in Indian elections all these years; an assertion of their national identity. A referendum thus is an old story to which only Islamabad wants to hang on to. Pakistan may try muddying the waters in Kashmir but it cannot be at the cost of the peace of the people. Fact is that the Kashmiris in Pak-Occupied province on the other side of the border are in a bigger struggle for survival. They neither have peace nor freedom nor the normal comforts of life.