Kashmir: Spoiled or Unspoiled?
It would be easy to describe Kashmir as an unspoiled natural beauty. Huge peaceful lakes reflecting the striking summits of the Himalayas & an abundance of greenery & wildlife. Kashmir provides a picturesque panorama from every angle, each seemingly more beautiful than the last. Unspoiled.
However, the words to describe the political strife of the region are far from similar to those that characterize its nature. For decades tension has remained high surrounding the control & possible independence of Kashmir. As per usual, the bloody British are to blame after they up & left in 1947. In their quake they resigned a once independent Kashmir to be usurped by the more powerful Indian & Pakistani armies & its lands divided.
Since the ’80s there have been countless riots & strikes across the Indian region of Jammu & Kashmir, a rising against their occupants. In response the Indian government has stepped up its military presence to an absurd level… a level on par with that at the DMZ dividing North & South Korea!! & in reaction to the army personnel’s presence the locals regularly strike & riot in opposition… & in reaction India increases the number of soldiers & invokes curfews in an attempt to control the streets & suppress any revolts… & a vicious circle ensues!
Recent events in Kashmir have worsened the situation into a deteriorating spiral of conflict. The regions capital, Srinagar, is the where the problem is at its worst. Curfews have crippled the economy & we were unable to leave our houseboat on Dal Lake. Road blocks were set up every few miles along many roads in the region, particularly in & out of Srinagar. We were actually prevented from re-entering the city by an army road block & forced to backtrack & catch a boat to avoid them. On departing Srinagar we had to leave at 3.30am & answer further police & army questioning before our minibus could continue!
The tension is in-your-face obvious, & the hatred some Kashmiris feel towards India is just as blatant, scribbled across walls & roads throughout the region.
A contrast of spoiling! Unspoiled natural beauty, unfortunately spoiled in reality by the political predicament that has crippled Kashmir for a generation.