An Integration of Hearts and minds

3 mins read

Five years ago, who could have imagined cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar walking down the remote streets of Kashmir with minimal security, no protocol and playing with young desi boys who may have hardly stepped out of Kashmir. The pictures of the cricket legend visiting the local homes, sipping tea along with his beautiful family and interacting with his smiling face left millions of people awestruck. Sachin Tendulkar in Kashmir-playing Street cricket is unbelievable. But these pictures widely shared on social media left the apologists numb and defenseless. They lost the ground and the propaganda they have been propagating to the media, making people believe that the real sentiment of Kashmiris is suppressed post Article 370 abrogation in 2019. The silence is enforced and the efforts of integration has brought more void and isolation among people proves no more a believable thing.

The pictures of Sachin Tendulkar destroyed the apologists beyond repair and have shown the world what real integration means.  Earlier, it was an accession of physical boundaries jotted down on papers of the constitution. But in a real sense Kashmir was socially disintegrated, said Ghulam Qadir, a political worker associated with one of the local political dispensations.

Qadir said that the icons of Kashmiri youth were set by someone else and were forced to believe and admire them as their role models.

“Even when I was a young boy, I was fetched information in a way that felt like my role models and icons are those living across the border, wearing a green Jersey. I lived with that thought since the information and propaganda was so powerful that it never gave me an opportunity to assess my decision on rational grounds.”

But the things on ground are completely changed now. The walls of misrepresentation have been erased and those building fortunes while misrepresenting the sentiment of Kashmiri youth are pushed to the back seat. The Youth of Kashmir are now coming forward themselves to have his or her say. They have nobody to rely on to seek an appointment with cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar. Rather Tendulkar is in their mohalla, village and town.

“This Pic Speaks everything & has the depth that I can’t collect in my words. Sachin Tendulkar & his Simplicity is something heart touching for me & being a cricketer, it’s dream of every Cricketer to meet LIVING LEGEND OF CRICKET,” one of the Kashmiri youth Shabir lefty writes his emotional message on his Facebook wall while sharing his picture with Kashmiri Para cricketer Aamir Hussain.

Five years ago, it was like a dream for any Kashmiri youth to hear that some international cricketer has landed in Kashmir and is roaming around in South Kashmir villages, visiting bat factories and nurseries where willow is grown. This dream of decades has only witnessed its realization post 2019, thanks to emotional and social integration of Kashmir with the rest of the country.

“Now we are walking and talking in an open space of Kashmir with cricket legends like Sachin Tendulkar, ” said Athar and admired the positive changes in Kashmir’s complex politics.

Tendulkar, a living legend of cricket would charge crores of rupees to promote brands in the world but his love has brought him to Kashmir as its true ambassador to promote its bat industry, tourism and art.

“Sachin Tendulkar met Aamir Hussain Lone, a Para Cricketer of Kashmir in Srinagar a few days back. During his Kashmir visit with family Sachin has won hearts of people and has become a real Ambassador of Kashmiris. From visiting the Bat Factory in Awantipora, Skiing in Gulmarg with locals or playing cricket on streets of Kashmir, it was all really Awesome. This was indeed not at all a Cosmetic approach but real and Organic. Thank you, Sachin,” writes Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat, a social activist on his Facebook wall.

Off late, the union Government had realized that more than Pakistan or external interferences Kashmir is suffering due to internal complex issues which needs to be systematically addressed since Pakistan is only fishing in the troubled waters. The internal eco system of self-interest groups had not only hijacked the entire Jammu and Kashmir but the ecosystem in vogue had compromised the national security at large.

The ongoing organic efforts have started yielding its results. Initially, the visit of social icons and top personalities to Kashmir was fully sponsored and guarded where only a select bunch of people would meet with permissions and strenuous security clearance.  “Now this has all changed and Kashmir is truly integrating with its hearts and minds with the rest of the country,” said Ashfaq Ahamd, pursuing PG at Kashmir University.  

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