Colonel (retd) Anil Athale travelled to the Kashmir Valley recently to understand the ÃÂdynamics of the duel between violence and peace.ÃÂ In an exclusive three-part series for Sify.com, he compares his experience with his earlier stint in the region in the early 1990s, and examines the options available to the state.
Kashmir, as usual, is in the news again for all the wrong reasons.
Just when people were hoping that peace had finally broken out in the Valley, the Amarnath land allotment fiasco erupted as a grim reminder of the bad old days of the 1990s.
Now that elections have been announced, many fear that the situation may get worse. The race to win elections by hook or by crook (mostly the latter) has prompted all kinds of demagogues to take to the streets across the nation. The violence in Orissa, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Bihar is directly or indirectly connected to upcoming elections.
So what is the real, as opposed to the TV-projected situation in Kashmir?
A two week journey through the Kashmir Valley (and a background of 18 years of study) gave me a picture of the ground situation. This diary is an attempt to share these experiences with the readers.
Image: Kashmiri children fly kites, unseen, during sunset at Dal lake in Srinagar. Set in the Himalayas at 5,600 feet above sea level, Kashmir is a green, saucer-shaped valley full of fruit orchards and surrounded by snowy mountain ranges. About 100 lakes dot its highlands and plains. Picture copyright AP. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.
Also see: Hey Ram: Let`s give away Kashmir