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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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Kargil - From Peace to War

By S.M. Pandit

Kargil district which is the centre stage for Pakistani misadventure falls on otherside of Zojila pass in Ladakh region. I first visited it in 1985.

Unlike Kashmir’s lush green forests, Kargil has sky touching naked mountains and deserted area still having natural beauty. The district has majority of Shia population with Sunni majority in Drass block and Budhist in Zanaskar sub-division. Majority of the population is back ward, conservative and innocent but loyal to the nation from core of their heart. Pakistan is looked as a hostile nation and populace have always stood by Indian forces and take pride in being Indians.

People talk about troublent experiences of wars with fear and the victory of Indian forces with pride and describe how Pakistan was pushed back from Hathimatha, which they identiy a hill lock in vicinity of Kargil town, a strategic position over looking Kargil town and national highway. They talk about a revered AGA (clergyman) who issued Fatwa (orders) to his followers to give all out support to Indian forces during Indo-Pak war to frustrate the nefarious designs of Pakistan. People obliged their religious Guru by providing all possible help to India forces in the hostile terrain. This nationalist gesture of the AGA was reciprocated by Indian army as he enjoyed hospitality of Indian army till his death in late 80’s and army people visited him regularly for blessing and guidance. There is usually no talk about plebescite or refrandum as in Kashmir and to the best of my knowledge the fundamentalists like Jamat-Islami have no strong base in the district.

When militancy sprouted in Kashmir in 1989-90, militants failed to establish a foot hold in Kargil. The militant friendly Kashmiri Muslims, including government employees, tried their best to indoctrinate them and exploit their religious feelings but in vain.  The rumours were floated that Islam is in peril in Kashmir. The local population was being misinformed by the vested interests about snatching of religious freedom by Jagmohan and Co.

that resulted in people’s rebellion against Indian establishment in favour of Azadi and Pakistan. One Aga asked me if the mosques were open and if the people allowed to offer Nimaz in Kashmir? Such was the level of indoctrination. He was surprised to hear from me that the mosques were being used by these very people as political platforms and Pro-Azadi slogan’s were being raised from mosque loud speakers round the clock.

The Kashmiri Muslims also organised corner meetings but the local response eluded them, however, connivance of some minisicule elements cannot be ruled out. Though there were no militancy related incidents in Kargil and there was peace still it did not remain unaffected. In October 1990, I along with 4 other friends boarded a taxi from Jammu to Sonamarg to avoid night stay in Kashmir as same was unsafe. But surprisingly, taxi driver refused on onward journey to Sonamarg and dropped us at Tourist Reception Centre Srinagar against our wishes. The arrival of Kashmiri Pandits to this place was an unusual event and was not out of danger as it was also hub of militancy. We mustered courage and fortunately could arrange a taxi to Sonamarg. On reaching Sonamarg, we boarded trucks for journey to Kargil heaving a sigh of relief little knowing that we may have to go through a night”-marish experience. On reaching TCP (Traffic Check Post) Drass at 9:00 PM, the traffic was stopped against usual practice. Usually traffic was allowed on forward journey  once crossing Zojila. So we were left with no option but to stay in trucks. Unfortunately, due to some misunderstanting, we were mistaken as terrorists by our truck drivers who called in army to our surprise. Within no time army reached targetting their weapons. We established our identity with identity cards and escaped army fury but were not allowed to stay in trucks. Ignorant of the ground realities, we decided to proceed to Drass town which was 2 kms away from TCP to stay in some hotel. On the road, we saw unusual calm and contrary to our experience no hotlier responded to our knocks. Then we reached police station Drass for help and police force rushed out putting their fingers on the triggers. On listening to our stroy, they expressed surprise on our survival and stated that shoot at sight orders were in force from 8 PM onwards but declined to comment about the reasons. They arranged our stay in the Dak Bungalow and next day we boarded a bus for Kargil only to go through unprecedented checking enroute. We came to know that a big group of teenagers who had returned after military training in Pak and were trapped in Gund, Sonamarg in Sep-Oct 1999 had reporedly first tried the Mushkoh pass. Observers feel that Mushkoh may have been used by the terrorists for infiltration afterwards also for its topographical advantage before the recent full scale intrusion.

Pakistan couldn’t digest India friendly approach during Indo-Pak wars and non cooperation in militancy that the civilian population became target of Pak army. The champions of Muslims did not spare even mosques, hospitals and religious schools. Peaceful Kargil was pushed into turmoil.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

Pakistan's Role

Kargil 1999

 

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