If you’ve known the land of Kashmir before August 5, 2019, you probably know the famous expression “Kashmir Jannat Nazeer”. For non-Urdu, non-Farsi speaks, it translates literally to “Kashmir like paradise”. And surely, such is the beauty of this paradise on earth.
But while humans have long associated paradise to beauty and sightly scenes, I have actually started to see the meaning of paradise in a very different context. And may be you’ll agree, especially if you’ve been thinking about Kashmir since the removal of article 370 by the Indian government that led to India forcing a communication shut down in Kashmir. No one knows the actual situation on the Kashmir grounds as no one is permitted in. Besides being a very ripe situation for militancy and impulsive reactions, a medical crisis is developing.
I am starting to understand and appreciate the meaning of paradise more now. I am finally realizing that paradise, if was possible to make just by having tall green trees and wonderfully colored flowers and mesmerizing mountains and roaring rivers, would be a very easy place to attain and inhabit. But paradise isn’t just a place with an unmatchable scenery. It really isn’t.
Paradise, in the context of how things are happening for some of our fellow humans, is actually the right to be. It’s the right to breathe without fear of being penalized. It’s the right to social justice and equality. It’s the right to be fearless from persecution. It’s the right to have our own system. It’s the right to education, employment, respect and peace. It’s the right to raise our kids how we always wanted to. It’s the right to medical care. It’s the right to be a community member instead of a militant. It’s the right to sleep at night without worrying about what might target our house at night.
That’s the essence of paradise. Free will with social justice. The Kashmir right now may be like paradise in its vast plains and bountiful orchards when we look at it but is far from paradise when we live in it. And unless Kashmiris don’t get the right to be Kashmiris, Kashmir isn’t like paradise at all. Don’t agree? Ask a Kashmiri.