Something is terribly wrong when women come to streets. That is what is happening in Kashmir agitation now.
Recently we had been through Shrinagar for Amarnath Yatra on the face of agitation. A band call ensured closed shutters on the day we arrived and same closed shutters said good bye to us due to curfew. In between we had to interact with people like taxi driver, hotel owner, House Boat owner, food vendors etc. They did argue about on going agitation, separation demand, lack of economic growth when engaged in conversation. That they were not well conversed with rest of India was quite evident. Still we found them extremely cordial. They were very concerned about our safety and went out of way to ensure our passage to airport.
Some may say because of business interest. We did not notice traders smile but sincerity on their face. Some 20 years back we were in Shrinagar. We stayed in Lal Chowk area. A medical emergency on a Sunday made us visit the narrow lanes of city in search of Doctor. We got one who not only treated patient but also treated all of us like family guests. We came to know some delicacies like Gustaba which otherwise would have never come to know. In fact as tourist we never noticed any resent for us any where. On the contrary we were given a feeling of welcome.
We found women of the home very homely and shy. We did not see much of womenfolk on the street. Those who were on the street appeared shy to even look at you. It is difficult to imagine that they have suddenly got courage to pelt stones at the security.
One thing however we did notice was terrible resent for security. We were told number of stories about their ruthless handling. We were told how some youth were killed by them for no reason. We were told how a woman cooking in home was shot and how a boy who ventured to go on street to fetch milk was shot. We thought at that time that they were exaggerated stories. Apparently they were not judging by the pictures of the stone pelting women published in the press.
The issues involved are too complex for ordinary citizen like us to understand. However one thing is sure that the battle may be one but cause is lost with women taking to street. We must understand that they are neither police nor soldier nor terrorist but a face of untold suffering. Perhaps bullet is not proper instrument of dialogue.
Let us hope that peace will return and so the hospitality of Kashmr.