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By Shriya Katoch
The story of Kashmiri Pandits is not an unheard one. Every few years the issue is paid lip service until it faces reclusion once again, but with 80% reduction in militancy in the last 5 years, the question arises as to whether the situation in Kashmir has improved?
The Kashmiri Pandits were dislocated from their millennia-old home .
It all began in 1988 when the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front began demanding independence of Kashmir from India. Many Islamic radicals among the party wanted to exterminate Kashmiri Pandits and make Kashmir an all Muslim state.
Benazir Bhutto who was at the time the Prime Minister of Pakistan delivered an instigating speech stating that the blood of Muslim’s runs through the veins of Kashmir. She said that the Kashmiri have the blood of Mujahideen. This speech ignited passion in Kashmir ,against India. In fact, The Pakistani central government supported, trained and armed the insurgency in Kashmir.
Their first act of violence was when they killed Pandit Tika Lal Tapoo ,who was a prominent leader in Jammu and Kashmir.Following months lead to massive assassinations of various public figures in the state, who were the pillars of the Kashmiri Pandit community. This created a wave of panic among the Kashmiri Pandits. On Jan 04, 1990,
a local Urdu newspaper, Aftab, published a press release asking all Pandits to leave the Valley immediately or they would be killed.
Al Safa, another local daily repeated the warning.These warnings were followed by masked Jihadis carrying out military-type marches openly.
They began a killing spree. Bomb explosions and sporadic firing by militants became a daily occurrence. Explosive and inflammatory speeches were being broadcasted.
This evoked a complete state of anarchy.Chaos took over and preyed on the innocent. Lawlessness flooded the valley and a mob with slogans and guns started roaming.
Reports of violent acts against Hindus were heard. The holy war spared no one. Men, women and children were killed alike. Kashmiri pandits were killed, their corpses mutilated beyond extent and left on the street. Women were raped, hanged naked, some even burned. Eyes were gauged out and their tongues cut with scissors. Youngsters were strangled with steel wires.
According to the Indian Government 219 Kashmiri Pandits were killed from 1989 to 2004 (different sources quote varying numbers, ranging up to 700) and 350,000 were dislocated due to the insurgency.
Radical Islamists wanted to eliminate all Kashmiri Pandits making Kashmir an all Muslim state. They held a deluded vision of Islam being in danger, also, the Kashmiri Pandits did not support their separatist view. Hence, this genocide occurred and earned the term ethnic cleansing. Due to this turmoil, the Kashmiri Pandits were forced to dislocate to other areas.
It has been 26 years and the Kashmiri Pandits continue to live as refugees in their own country. Facing neglect, deprivation and despair in refugee camps. They live in inhuman conditions. These camps are not even armed with basic amenities such as water. People are cramped into small spaces .
They are victims of fanaticism,robbed of their life. However, they did not answer violence with violence, insanity with insanity. And how are they paid, discarded off, forgotten, left to fender for themselves?
When will their screams be heard? The population of Kashmiri Pandits is dwindling and they face the threat of extinction.
Attempts are being made to return the Kashmiri Pandits back to their home.Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to dissolve the controversial Article 370.
As of 2016, only 1800 Kashmiri Pandit youths have returned to their state .
However, a high percentage of Kashmiri Pandits are still not sure whether the
divide has been bridged .
What happened in Kashmir in 1990 was a major violation of human rights,
efforts need to be made by the government to ensure that the Kashmiri Pandits
feel secure enough to return back to their homeland. They need to be returned to their rightful home .
Shriya Katoch multitasks as an Engineering student,an avid reader,a guitar player and a death note fan. Twitter: @katochshriya538
Along with the undeniable natural beauty, the Kashmir valley has developed a reputation for adventurous activities like trekking, hiking, and river rafting. Kashmir has maintained its charm, allowing us to time-travel into beautiful destinations which make one forget about the stress and worries of life. The hikes in Kashmir offer adventurers to go on a self-discovery trip through nature's lap over the mountains while taking in the breathtaking scenery that surrounds them on their journey. In addition to the hikes, there are many thrilling adventure activities, like rock climbing, rope climbing, etc. Trekking across the region of mountains and lakes will allow you to experience living in the "Paradise on Earth," and you wouldn't want to return to your regular life after that.
The following are some of the finest hiking destinations in Kashmir:
#1: Kashmir Great Lakes Trek: You will be transported to a heavenly and unseen aspect of Kashmir on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. In addition to three high-altitude passes and five river valley crossings, this is the only trip in the Himalayas that includes seven alpine lakes, each of which is a stunning shade of green, blue, or turquoise. The extravagance is limitless and breathtakingly stunning every day: infinite blue sky, a larger-than-life backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, colourful meadows overflowing with wildflowers, river crossings are just a few examples of what you will encounter during the trek.
You will be transported to a heavenly and unseen aspect of Kashmir on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. | Photo by prayer flags on Unsplash
#2: Sonamarg-Vishansar-Bandipora Trek: The Sonamarg-Vishansar-Bandipora trek is a one-of-a-kind experience that provides a glimpse into Kashmir's undiscovered regions. Sonamarg, famously known as the Meadows of Gold, is the starting point for this fascinating journey that is the perfect experience for anyone looking to get away from the frantic tourist rush. This trek is a fascinating journey that allows nature enthusiasts to bask in the splendour of nature's grandeur. The trek goes over many high mountain passes, some as high as 4000 metres in elevation. The hiking route, in addition to providing breathtaking views of the magnificent Vishansar Lake, provides visitors with the chance to see more than 50 alpine lakes.
Sonamarg, famously known as the Meadows of Gold, is the starting point for this fascinating journey. | Photo by YASER NABI MIR on Unsplash
ALSO READ: Top 10 Beautiful Sights To VIsit In Kashmir
#3: Tral-Narastan-Marsar Trek: The Tral-Narastan-Marsar trek is filled with a range of exciting experiences from beginning to end. The hiking trail passes past a waving saffron field, beautiful meadows, and several streams. The path also crosses the Dachigam National Park, where there is an opportunity to see various animal species. Trekkers may take in spectacular views of the high mountains running parallel to them as they cut and pass through Narastan, a Hindu pilgrimage place.
The Tral-Narastan-Marsar trek is filled with a range of exciting experiences from beginning to end. | Wikimedia Commons
#4: Chhatargul-Mahlish-Gangabal: The journey, which passes through beautiful locations such as Chattargul, Mahlish, Kolsar, and Trunkul, provides a peek into an utterly uninhabited wilderness of Kashmir. There are lakes and meadows adorned with flowers along the route as one trek into the alpine wilderness. Trekkers can also enjoy fishing in the crystal clear lakes, camping, or just seeing towering snow-capped mountains while on their journey.
There are lakes and meadows adorned with flowers along the route as one treks into the alpine wilderness. | Wikimedia Commons
#5: Kolahoi Base Camp Trek: The Kolahoi Base Camp trek in Kashmir has been famous since the early 1900s and has been a goal for many seasoned hikers from across the world. While Srinagar serves as the beginning point for the trip, it is in Aru Valley that the actual hiking begins. The Kolahoi Base Camp Trek is a gentle adventure that is ideal for novices and families with children. The breathtaking sight of the peaks rising into the sky on the horizon of the Pirpanjal and Karakoram ranges is certainly worth capturing. It is considered to be one of the most popular treks in the Kashmir valley.
The Kolahoi Base Camp Trek is a gentle adventure that is ideal for novices and families with children. | Wikimedia Commons
Kashmir's natural splendour, with its beautiful valleys and towering mountains, is really unlike anywhere. Trekking through various valleys and peaks while taking in the scenic beauty is something that always calms the heart and provides us with memories that we will remember for a lifetime.
Keywords: Kashmir, Lakes, Alpine, Hiking, Trekking, Treks, Sonamarg, Gangabal, Kolahoi, Chhatargul, Mahlish, Tral, Narastan, Marsar
The Pitru Paksha starts after the Full Moon day, and this day marks the beginning of the waning phase of the Lunar cycle. This event is roughly of 15-day period, and is of great significance. From this day, rituals like Tarpan or Tarpanam and Shradh are carried out to pay respects to dead relatives and ancestors.
It is believed that from the very first day till the last day, the unhappy souls of the deceased return to the Earth to see their family members. So, in order to ensure that the dead attain Moksha, i.e. to get liberation, family members of these souls quench their thirst and satisfy their hunger by performing the Pind Daan, which includes offering food consisting of cooked rice and black sesame seeds. The literal meaning of Pind Daan is the act of satisfying those who no longer exist physically.
For fifteen days, prayers are offered in temples and rituals are performed to help the souls get free from the cycle of birth, life, and death, and attain salvation.
At the same time, the Pitru Paksha is also an important period for people with Pitru Dosha, which means the curse imposed by the ancestors. Hence, in order to ask forgiveness, people perform Shradh rituals and offer food to the crows, who are considered as living beings that represent the dead. It is believed, if the crow eats the offered food, the ancestors are happy and pleased. But, if the crow doesn't eat the offered food and flies away, the ancestors are not happy.
The event of Pitru Paksha is widely observed by Hindus from all over the world, and they perform prayers and rituals in order to gain their ancestors blessings.
At the heart of Bangalore city, a large 300-acre space of lush greenery and heritage stands as a symbol of the city's past, present, and future. Cubbon Park is every child's favourite park, every Bangalorean's haven of fresh air, and altogether, the city's pride.
It stands testament to the past, in terms of the diversity of flora it houses. Bangalore traffic in the recent past has grown into a menace, but the stretch between MG Road and Cubbon Park is always a pleasurable place to stop and wait for the signal to turn green. The gust of wind that blows here, and the smell of mud, coupled with floral scents instantly transports citizens to Old Bangalore, where the weather was fine, and the trees loomed over roads with thick canopies that did not even allow rainwater to penetrate. Cubbon Park is also a historical site, and one of the few remaining monuments of colonial heritage in Central Bangalore. It houses many statues and among them, the most famous is that of Queen Victoria, which faces the St. Mark's Square.
The stretch outside Cubbon Park is cool and well-shaded from the canopy of trees over it. Image source: wikimedia commons
At present, Cubbon Park is known for the cultural hub that it is. It houses Jawahar Bal Bhavan, which is a large theatre that hosts film festivals through the year. Festivals, poetry open mics, and other such shows are conducted on the lawns every Sunday. A small stream runs through the park, where boat rides are held occasionally when the water level is high enough. There is a children's park on one corner, and a government-maintained aquarium, two-storeys tall, with exotic fish.
The Park has been renamed many times in the past. It was originally named Meade's Park, after Sir John Meade, the acting commissioner of Mysore in 1870. It was later changed to Cubbon Park after Sir Mark Cubbon, who was the longest-serving commissioner of the Mysore state. In 1927, the park was renamed after the Mysore Maharaja Sri Krishna Wodeyar, to celebrate his silver jubilee, since the park was developed during the reign of his ancestors. Even though it is officially named Sri Chamrajendra Park, it is still known as Cubbon Park all over the city. In fact, Bangalore was alluded the sobriquet of 'Garden City' because of the rich botanical diversity of this park.
Art Installation at Cubbon Park Image source: wikimedia commons
In many parts of the country, governments have renamed structures, places, and cities to remove traces of colonialism. But, in a city like Bangalore, there is too much evidence of the British rule. Many of the most prominent attractions of the city are known by their British identities despite the change in name. Even the city's name continues to be Bangalore, despite having been changed to Bengaluru. Last year, the British era and its achievements were celebrated in Cubbon Park when Sir Mark Cubbon's statue was moved from the grounds of the Karnataka High Court and placed in the Park.
Keywords: Cubbon Park, Mark Cubbon, British Colonialism, Cultural hub, Garden City