Wrong terminology maligned land, people of Kashmir: Outgoing GoC 15 Corps D P Pandey

Srinagar, May 05 (KNS): The outgoing General officer commanding of Srinagar based 15 Corps, Lt General D P Pandey during his farewell speech on Thursday said that the wrong terminology has maligned the land and people of Kashmir as he believes that it is not “Kashmir Problem” but “problem in Kashmir.”

He said “We hear a number of people talking about the ‘Kashmir problem’ all the time. I believe it is not a ‘Kashmir problem’ but ‘problem in Kashmir’. The wrong terminology maligns the land and people of Kashmir.”
*Here is the full text of his speech*
I stand here before you with a deep sense of hope. For someone who has seen this wonderful land of resplendence called Kashmir for 36 years of professional career during its various phases of tragedy and tumult, fortune and success revealing a number of hues and shades, this hope I say are not words alone. This hope is driven closely by the fortitude, commitment and energy of Kashmiris like all of you.
Today, we have come a long way to an important juncture in recent history where doors for peace, stability, progress, prosperity and happiness are opening up like never before. There is a popular saying that “success comes through lanes and from backyards, not from the front door”. This is so true for our Kashmir today.
We hear a number of people talking about the ‘Kashmir problem’ all the time. I believe it is not a ‘Kashmir problem’ but ‘problem in Kashmir’. The wrong terminology maligns the land and people of Kashmir.
The reality of Kashmir is easily visible to someone could see Kashmir from distances like me who goes out and then from within. This is a land of beauty and abundance. Abundance where anything you sow grows ‘in its most exquisite and beautiful form’ from apples to plums to apricot to saffron to nadru to almonds and all seasonal vegetables one can imagine. The fruit and vegetable markets in every village of Kashmir reflects this abundance that god has bestowed upon this land. Even people – with good heart and otherwise. Jo bo diya wohi ug jata hai …. Shayad pathar bhi bo do toh pathar nikal ayega. And therefore, I believe in Kashmir if you sow hate, you will get hate but if you sow love, peace and harmony. Choice is with people of Kashmir.
It is not just the land but its people who are abundantly talented and capable. Good souls who naturally carry the spiritual vibes that this land was famous for 4-5 millennia. Revered by so many religions and spirituals, ‘it needs to become ‘heaven again’ not only in terms of natural beauty but also in nature of living thoughts this land was blessed for, so than its can again be called heaven on earth’. Kashmiris who went out for different reasons at various points of history prospered; all because of their natural capabilities that makes them succeed. They rose to become important people driving political, spiritual and social landscape of India or Bharat. Even Kashmiri pandits who were driven out in 90s, with their hard work have prospered everywhere.
Then what has gone wrong in Kashmir-that is seen as ‘Kashmir Problem’ that we need to talk about? What has caused last thirty years of violence, pain and gloom of death in this blessed land? Place of which terrorism, radicalization, victimhood, brainwashing, religious bigotry etc are uttered more often about Kashmir and Kashmiris than the good, I have talked about earlier. It has been long since the time of Sir Walter Lawrence, when Kashmiris were accused of riding two horses together and unable to be in control of things or their destiny.
Before I share my views with all of you on present day Kashmir, let me first take this opportunity to talk about how we came to the situation that we face today. Kashmir was an abundant land and driver of its own destiny till the 13th century. In sad turn of events, Kashmiris lost control over their destiny to foreign tyrants and invaders. Seeds of fear were sown on this fertile and blessed land. Kashmiris lost their ability to smile, to be happy and started to learn riding two horses for survival. Later, even the benevolent rulers like Bud Shah could also not undo the damages since the foreign rule continued to remain exploitative in different forms. The 17th century times were the worst. Even after 1947 when Kashmiris smelled the fragrance of democracy, and the seeds of ambiguity were sown for 75 years-the narratives of riding two horses for personal advantages were built. In 80s, the seeds of Azadi came to sprout only to be replaced by seeds of separatism and radicalization. The stories of 90s are well known but rarely spoken of. While driving out Pandits, even many muslims left Valley due to the prevailing conditions; seeds of exploitation of woman by rape and their disempowerment turned a progressive matriarchial society away from becoming a Kashmiri society contemporary of modern world. The seeds of hate sown sprouted in this fertile land and caused the continued misery.
The 75 years also experienced the seeds of distrust and lack of pride in own traditions and history in the Kashmiris. The radicals made many Kashmiris want to ape the culture from near west. It reminds me of the famous quote of Marcus Carvey in 19th century, “The people without the knowledge of their past, history, origin and culture are like the tree without roots”. The Kashmiri needs to reclaim its roots that were intellectual, benevolent, spiritual to become a real progressive society. Pride in heritage and traditions needs to be regained rather than adapting foreign seeds being sown by vested interests.
The last ray of hope in first decade of this millennia which was squandered on the altar of radical thought spread through the social media which finally culminated in the events in 2016-17. Kashmiris were not sure of what next-the radicals seemed to rule to roost. 
A lot of water has flown through Jhelum since 2016-17, especially after Aug 2019 and a glimmer of new beginning is visible. There is hope on the horizon. The security parameters are good-many violence affected areas of Srinagar and Valley are now back as economic hubs. The economy is looking better despite COVID, the development efforts are visible – we understand they take time, education is getting back on its feet and Kashmiris are looking to be part of the opportunity boom of India. There are opportunities for all, who have the capability and the intent – Kashmiris have the capability. Time is to sow seeds of prosperity and more importantly of inclusion, happiness and harmony. It is for the youth now, to build on that positive energy to lay foundation for a progressive society. But let us remain vigilant. The vested interests who once tore the Kashmiri society apart will once again sow seeds of perceived victimhood, oppression or religion under threat. Let us not get misguided by such voices and propaganda. 
Another appreciable aspect is the growing voices of the women folk in the Kashmiri cultural landscape. It is so heartening to see the fairer gender taking lead on so many platforms, so far dominated by men. Glorious successes of our Kashmiri women in fields of sports, politics, administration, journalism and business entrepreneurship are explicit examples of the new normal, to which the society is opening up. Today for first time Valley will see two women SSPs.
Because of these winds of change, it is bringing more economic and infrastructure development in the valley. Look at the rapid progress and boom in the tourism front. Despite apprehensions about the security situation for many tourists, their first visit to the Valley is a “dream come true” now. These tourists have flocked to the Valley in groups, along with their families, from across the country. Long queues at the airport’s baggage claim, families waiting at Dal Lake to hop onto a shikara, couples posing in traditional Kashmiri attire at Nishat Bagh, a bustling Lal Chowk, packed restaurants, fully booked hotels — the Kashmir Valley is seeing a rush of tourists, with estimates of it being the biggest footfall ever. It is so heartening to learn that over 3.5 lakh tourists mostly domestic, have visited Kashmir in the last three months. This number is expected to go up in the coming months. As many as 6.6 lakh tourists from across the country visited the Valley in 2021, which is a considerable increase from figure of past.
The generations of 90s shied away to admit their mistakes of sowing the wrong seeds, they are of my generation. They will not accept it as it is difficult to, and they will ensure their future generation follows their path to violence and hate through the narrative of victimhood and hate. While some drove narratives as per their convenience for personal advantages and rest were silent. The harvest was experienced by the Kashmiris, you- the youth of today where the youth account for 60% of the Kashmiri population. It is time for you to take charge and sow the seeds of success, love and happiness for the generations of the future. Question what you hear from my generation and which you watch on social media, not all is truth. Find your smile – nobody else can do it for you, definitely not the older generation. Embrace the truth and live life in this birth.
You must leave a legacy for your future generations - so choose wisely to invest in solving the ‘problems of Kashmir’- and take charge as a society for your own future. You are that hope my dear young friends, and I wish you well.(KNS) 

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