Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarrelled with him? Blaise Pascal, the great French mathematician and philosopher who invented the adding machine in the 1600's once remarked. To my mind, nothing can be more preposterous than starting a war and living in a war zone. Even your theory of probability can prove it, Mr Blaise.
Nearer home, Kashmir has been experiencing a low-intensity conflict for 17 long years now. Among the first fatalities of the war have been the cherished values of Kashmir. In local idiom they called it Kashmiryat. Ellaborated it means -- the secular fabric. When my hindu teachers would force me to eat red-red Rajma at their home. When mom's specially-made pickle was an essential part of our hindu neighbours' dinner. Suddenly it was all gone.
Almost instantly all social institutions which contribute -- brick by brick -- in the development of any decent civil society started collapsing. Morals, ethics and discipline vanished almost overnight. Hooliganism and vandaism of the first order started. Some people looted abandoned homes, weeding out what was left of the centuries old trust we reposed in one another. Many became rich overnight. Fake drugs, fake bills, fake fruits. Everything became so unreal. This was a state that was reeling under severe economic harships -- all development funds went to the security apparaturs -- and still people drove around in glitzy new cars. It befuddled me as a youngster.
Religion took centre-stage. That age old ploy. Exploit the ignorants. Use electronic beads and rosaries. God's chant turned digital. People continued to die. Get killed. Yet others continued to get rich. The likes of those who lived in servant quaters and some of the hoi polloi. No one knows how. Lots of mysteries hover the small paradise. No one ever knows who kills whom, for example.
I am not very surprised to learn about the latest sex-scandal emanating from the peripheries of the famous Dal-lake. A nexus of politicians-policemen-prominent people. Sex-clips from a war-zone. Amidst the blood and bombs. I am sure most of these guys would feign religion and claim to be nice. I've been cynical about the Kashmiri in general since the war began. That is because one wintry night in 1989, we lost our innocence.
There never was a good war or a bad peace. Benjamin Franklin American printer, journalist, publisher, author, philanthropist, abolitionist, public servant, scientist, librarian, diplomat, and inventor said. True, mate!