– Kashmir has always been more than a mere place. It has a quality of experience or a state of mind or perhaps an ideal.

– Jan Morris

I am Kashmir. I am immortal. I was known as ‘Jannat’ or ‘Paradise on earth’ due to the incomparable natural beauty. Every year, tourists flock to visit me because of the wide diversity of landscapes which pride my existence along with the associated flora and fauna. Due to the geographical position, I am also referred to as the Crown of India. I possess a land so fertile that I find myself being constantly fought over. Despite all this, I have my share of sorrows as I am plagued by an internal conflict, where my children are fighting amongst themselves on behest of jealous neighbours.

I find myself constantly caught between the insurgent, the soldier and the innocent local. Irrespective of whatever be the outcome of military operations, my name and prestige invariably always takes a beating. A major difference in this regard can be made at the political level, provided the right people and political party are brought to power. Me and my people have always been promised development and upliftment from all those who contested elections over the years of my independent existence. However all those promised proved to be shallow and futile. My land holds great promise and potential, provided the essence of Kashmiriyat  is materialised in its true sense. To change the current non-revisionist trends at the political level, it is important that each individual exercises their right to vote. Voting is the one opportunity that each citizen is given to make an informed decision about who will be the best to run the State/Union Territory. It is choice that is given to choose your leaders. To exercise your opinion and your choice, irrespective of the outcome.

I owe my people peace and harmony, something which they have been devoid of for generations. My weary shoulders were strengthened when Articles 370 and 35A were abrogated in 2019. This step is the foundation stone of change that is needed at the political setup prevalent. It has also provided an opportunity to everyone who believes that change is possible to step up and fight to be elected. The buck however does not stop there. Each citizen should vote not for the most powerful candidate, but for the most deserving one. I am saddened when I see poor turnouts during periodic polling out of fear or out of indifference. But I am not indifferent. I am tired of seeing my people being exploited by the perfidy of people in power. I remain silent however, I also long for change.

Yet, I still have hope. I know that I am at the cusp of change and all that is needed is the right change at the right places. A weak and porous political hierarchy will always be exploited by the numerous nefarious players who hope to bag the largest pound of my flesh. However if those elected into power are strong and capable to stand the tests of time there will be light at the end of this dark dark tunnel. I urge my sons and daughters to urge their sons and daughters to exercise their right to vote and chose the best for me. Not for me or my benefit, but for themselves and their own betterment and progress. It is upto my people to save me from spiralling downwards beyond the capability of resurrection. Do not let the dark attempts by nefarious elements who thrive on instability, dissuade you from doing what is right for me and for all us.     

I am Kashmir and I shall continue to remain the beacon of immortality. But this is only possible, if my reigns are steered by capable leaders who can be put into power by your vote, if my children decide to change the course of future, if my children chose to live with harmony, if my children reject the religious terror mongers, if my children decide to be the difference themselves and if my children learn and rectify their previous generations mistakes and do not repeat them. Then I will shine and alongwith me, my children will live in prosperity giving a complex to any developed nation in the world. I will return to being the epitome of natural beauty which will be a matter of pride for my residents.   

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