Spring Festival- A season of festivity at a time of ban on Highway
It is being reported in the press that about fifty thousand people attended the spring festival at the almond alcove Badamwari in downtown Srinagar recently. The festivals like these convey a sense of joy, festivity and contentment. People of all age groups visited the beautiful garden and watched some of the performers perform in the spacious amphitheatre of the place. The place gives a fairy look in spring and Kashmiri families of yore would carry samovars of Kehva to the place and celebrate the heralding of spring. Though the figures of fifty thousand seem to be an exaggerated number but still even if only 25 thousand visited the place it is still a great number given the current circumstances.
We are talking of a time when the establishment has forced upon people the illogical order of banning civilian vehicles on the only highway connecting Kashmir with the rest of the world. The patients are dying for want of travelling to a tertiary care hospital in Srinagar. Only time will tell how many expecting mothers would deliver stillborns on the road. We are hearing that one of the budding politicians from the state has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the order as it encroaches upon the Right to Free Movement. All the mainstream political parties are in complete unison against the order and issued kind of caveats to the centre to revoke the order.
A spring festival at this time comes as a breath of fresh air or does it actually? Kashmir needs much more than mere spring festivals. It needs more terrestrial routes connecting Kashmir with the rest of the world. It needs more road and rail networks connecting it with central Asia and China. It needs a railway network to start with. We still remember the promise of former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee in which he said that Kashmir would be connected to the rest of India through a railway network before 2007. It is 2019 and railway to Kashmir is still a distant dream.
Kashmir needs highways at the earliest. It is an SOS call from Kashmir. Nowhere in the world would a population of 8 million be subjected to such cruel and unforgiving whip. Till that time, our deep wounds would not heal with the sun-dried and expired ban-aid like spring summer , autumn and winter festivals.