It has been four years since Article 370 was rendered infructuous.
We, born in the Valley and who survived the more than three-decade long proxy war sponsored by the ISI-Pakistan military industrial complex, were assured this would never happen and any political party which did it would be committing political suicide.
But the BJP implemented their manifesto promise, showing their political will to solve the Kashmir imbroglio.
Currently, the Supreme Court of India is hearing a batch of petitions, challenging the abrogation, while the people of the Valley comprising of bereaved parents, grandparents, widows, half-widows, orphans try to heal and move on, having had two generations of our youth buried six feet under and a third one radicalised with anti-India sentiments.
The associated trauma of this armed conflict never really goes away. The mental health statistics of the Valley do not look good, with a dearth of psychiatrists and psychologists to treat the lakhs of distressed, depressed, anxious patients suffering from various disorders.
Neither are the health statistics of the Valley encouraging, what with years of confinement indoors due to the strike (hartal) calendar of the separatists and armed terrorists, and the economy solely dependent on New Delhi loans and tourism.
Cardiac problems, diabetes, spinal deformities, have added to the mental issues for a population struggling to come to terms with the wrecking ball of guns, grenades, IED blasts and crossfires as well as custodial disappearances and massacres.
Today, schools, colleges, offices, institutions functioning normally gives some semblance of peace.
The improving infrastructure of buildings, roads, highways, developmental projects, rail services, airport upgradation signals towards prosperity and progress.
For average Kashmiris, there are two kinds of news, he or she is interested in - one is the boost in the economy as number of tourists to the Valley keeps breaking records years after year; and the NIA teams raiding former terrorists, attaching properties of Jamaat cadres, weeding out OGWS (overground workers) of terrorists embedded in the bureaucracy, media, police, and other institutions.
The latest incredible news was the J&K administration giving permission to the Shia population to go ahead with the Ashura procession on the main roads which had been kept on hold and restricted to the by lanes of Srinagar city these past decades.
This Muharram saw young and old from both communities, Shias and Sunnis, displaying fervour for the procession to mark the martyrdom of the Prophet's grandson Imam Hussein at Karbala, a ritual that is of significance to Sunnis also, as they line up alongside the roads, providing refreshments to the flagellating Shias.
The ambulance service drivers, nurses, and health workers escorting them are mostly from the Sunni population.
Many Shias came on camera to say it seemed like the era of the 1980s before the Valley imploded and exploded into an Islamist warfare. Many youths were delighted that the stories their elders told them about the Muharram processions in the 80s were coming true.
The Shias had been denied permission for the processions on the main roads for their safety because it would take just a gunshot in the crowd, or a grenade lobbed to create communal, sectarian clashes.
Through the years Shia groups had negotiated with the administration by keeping the processions low-key and restricting them to the by-lanes.
That the Lt Governor, Manoj Sinha, led the Muharram procession and his office tweeted about paying obeisance to Imam Hussein's sacrifice, was welcomed by all Muslim groups in the Valley.
Even the Ahmadiyyas living in the Valley celebrated last with fervour and without any threats. Their mosques secure as they went about their daily prayers and practiced their beliefs freely.
There can be no other proof than that for the diversity within Islam being preserved and flourishing; and there is no better guarantee for that preservation than the one offered by the Indian State and the Indian Constitution.
Article 25 of the Constitution of India gives the right to practice and propagate religion to its citizens. Since the abrogation of Article 370, the Indian Penal Code applies to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir too.
Earlier, Kashmiri Christians had been celebrating Christmas, Easter and all their holy days in a low-key manner, ever fearful of inviting the attention of the jihadi groups. After the abrogation, in these past four years, they have secure enough to mark their holidays with aplomb; as have the Kashmiri Sikhs for their Gurupurabs, enlarging their gurudwaras and maintaining them.
In the 1980s, there were several Buddhist monasteries dotting Srinagar city and towns of the valley, but they were converted to residential complexes or other business ventures. Hopefully, in the coming years, those monasteries can be revived, even as the Union Territory of Ladakh is flourishing with its own University, airport, various upcoming educational establishments, and sports complexes.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State of Pakistan is failing spectacularly. They tried to finish the business of Partition with the creation of an Islamic State of Kashmir (merger with Pakistan) through an armed insurgency, and ethnic cleansing of the Kashmir Pandits from the Valley.
Today, the new generations of Kashmiris are gradually learning this truth, as peace solidifies and prosperity beings in rationality to see how the Indic Civilizational fold has been giving various faiths refuge since ancient times: first to the persecuted Persians (Zoroastrians), the Prophet's family, defended by Raja Dahir of Sindh, Tibetans, Balochis, Afghans fleeing the Taliban, and even absorbing Siddhi Yeminis, and Arabs since the advent of Islam through trade in southern India.
Islam itself has been transformed by the Dharmic philosophies and theology to create a unique Indic Islam of which APJ Abdul Kalam, the Missile Man and 11th President of India is the prime example. Kashmiris are the last group of Muslims to learn this.
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