As government gropes for ideas, Kashmir descents into chaos
Force Magazine - National Security and Aerospace Newsmagazine

Hope Unravels

As government gropes for ideas, Kashmir descents into chaos

Pravin Sawhney and Ghazala Wahab

Sometimes towards the end of March and beginning of April, Jammu and Kashmir Tourism started placing advertisements in national newspapers inviting tourists to come and witness the seasonal blossoming of tulips in Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden (the erstwhile Siraj Bagh), which was inaugurated by chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in 2008. Azad not only created another beautiful garden in the verdant landscape of the Kashmir Valley, he also chose to name it after a national leader instead of a Kashmiri personality; another unwitting reminder of who takes precedence in the state. Hence, at least in this case, the locals simply call it Tulip Garden.

Hope Unravels

Housing nearly 20 lakh tulips of over 46 varieties, Srinagar’s garden claims to have the largest collection of tulips in Asia; it frequently draws comparisons with the Keukenhof Park of The Netherlands. No surprise then that it is one of the new attractions for tourists. The advertisements in the national newspapers were aimed to tell the world that the flames of the summer of 2016 had been doused and the Valley was readying itself to embrace spring. Unfortunately for the eternal optimists, the flames may have been put out by the winter snow, the embers remained; hidden in earthen pots (kangri) that Kashmiris carry to keep them warm. Nursed by anger that has refused to abate, the embers were frequently fanned by the State, which remained both insensitive and unmindful.

And so, before the potential tourists could get lured by the resplendent tulips, the embers rose and claimed the spring; and possibly the summer too. For a people who live from summer to summer, two washed-out seasons imply economic hardship, not to speak of loss of life and limb, another academic year and a temporary sense of things being normal. Or as they say in Kashmir: normalcy. Despite hope, and in some quarters, anticipation too, normalcy has not returned to Kashmir, which is now the biggest priority of all concerned citizens, both in Kashmir and the rest of the country.

Once there was hope

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