Kochi: In a dingy room in Mattancherry, three young Kashmiris were keenly watching the developments from Delhi and the Valley on their mobile phones on Monday evening as their television set has conked out.
The faces of Inayat Farooq, Ishfaq Ahmed Malik and Wani Nisar are apprehensive as they come to know that their Kashmir is no longer the same.
While Mr Inayat and Mr Wani did most of the talking, Mr Ishfaq sported a sober face without getting much involved in the talk.
All of them are running Kashmiri emporiums in the Jew Street which sell handicrafts, Kashmiri shawls and carpets after bringing them from Kashmir.
They had just returned to their rooms after closing their shops by 6.30 pm. There are around 100 Kashmiris running the same business in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry.
Mr Inayat and Mr Wani belong to Srinagar while Mr Ishfaq hails from Baramulla. Mr Wani had just a few days back returned to Kochi after visiting his family in Srinagar, savouring the joyous moment of arrival of a child in the family. He was all excited as he showed the photo of the child on his mobile.
“We are worried about our families back home after these developments. We all pray they should be safe. Since 8 pm last night, we have not been able to contact the family members over the phone or through the internet, including Whatsapp, as the network has been jammed. The abrogation of the Articles of the Constitution concerning Jammu and Kashmir has been effected with an eye on the land in Jammu and Kashmir since the climate is so cool,” said Mr Wani.
“We want the kind of freedom that we enjoy in Kochi, in Jammu and Kashmir as well,” said Inayat. “Here the Navy is deployed in Kochi, but they do not interfere with the lives of the people. Likewise, the Army should do its duty in Jammu and Kashmir. Deploying the Army in the border and ensuring a non-porous border with Pakistan are ok, but deploying the Army in every junction makes our life difficult, especially when when our daily movements are restricted. We can’t move out after 8 pm.”
In their opinion, Pakistan is so poor that it is not a challenge to India. “In any case let them stop the movement of people from across the border and let us live happily and peacefully,” said Mr Wani....