The mountain men
Colonel (retd) Anil Athale travelled to the Kashmir Valley recently to understand the ÃÂdynamics of the duel between violence and peace.ÃÂ The second of an exclusive three-part series for Sify.com, where he compares his experience with his earlier stint in the region in the early 1990s, and examines the options available to the state.
My Mission Kashmir began with a visit to the hilly region West of Uri, which forms the LoC between the Valley and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. The route to Muzaffarabad passes from here.
In the peculiar geography and demography of Kashmir, the valley is fringed by high mountains that are inhabited by Gujjars. The main occupation of Gujjars is animal husbandry and agriculture. The tough mountain people have always had a good rapport with the army guarding our borders. Many locals work as porters for the army, and make a good living by hiring out their ponies. There is little love lost between the Kashmiris and Gujjars, with the latter being either neutral or pro-India in their approach.
Village Kamalkot, West of town of Uri, lies across the Jhelum. Earlier (in 1993 when I visited it) there was only a foot bridge connecting it with the valley. Now there is a proper bridge, and a motorable road to this village high up in the mountains.
Devastated during the killer earthquake two years ago, the village has been completely rebuilt, and other than a few abandoned houses, there was no sign of the earthquake.
Image: Rebuilt houses at Kamalkot village, high up in the mountains. (All pictures copyright Col Anil Athale. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited. )
Also see: Hey Ram: Let`s give away Kashmir