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FULL STORIES: The Flames Of Paradise – Episode 07 [Read]

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Flames
Episode 7
Thereafter followed a series of conversations full of emotions ranging from hyper excitement to panic to patient hearing and finally encouraging. The latter by her Dad who was a tough guy and always wanted his children to be as tough as him. He was very positive about this project of hers and had told her at length about the situation in Kashmir. In fact, he had been one of her research sources.
Her mother was altogether a different matter. She like all mothers loved fawning over her kids however grown up they were. She was always worried about the single but happy Snigdha, waiting for her to get settled with a good guy, and a couple of children in tow. She was especially worried about her 32 year old son, who had been unlucky in marriage. His wife had filed for a divorce and he had no qualms giving it. Their mother just couldn’t understand how he had let her go so easily without any objections. Little did she realise that her beloved son knew the futility of objecting when he was also to be blamed because of his workaholic nature that had distanced him from his wife, who had got bored sitting at home waiting for him to return and spend some time with her. Gradually, a time came, when she had decided to go abroad and pursue her dream, of doing PhD in Astronomy, leaving behind no debris from her marriage. They were lucky not to have any child out of their brief marriage. Snigdha didn’t blame the lady for looking for happiness in her work. It was obvious that her Mom didn’t appreciate her daughter-in-law’s bout of emancipation and considered her son the scapegoat. He was far from that, enjoying his freedom and deciding to remain a confirmed bachelor, shunning all overtures of his mother for a second marriage.
Keeping the phone down, Snigdha closed her laptop, and finished her packing by keeping the laptop and her Canon 5D camera which she always carried for any shoots, as it was terrific for stills as well as visuals.
Snigdha watched the beautiful landscape which was unfolding before her eyes, when they started from Jammu in the massive and shining black SUV. She turned her head to look at Dimple who was reading,Fifty Shades of Gray, the latest rage amongst readers, after getting absolutely no response from Nitin. Snigdha smiled and looked out of the tinted glass window. Very soon they would be reaching Anantnag. Snigdha’s mind turned towards her script. She had devoted a lot of time and energy in creating a unified, sensitive script highlighting the present-day turmoil of Kashmir, where more than anything, the innocent people were getting affected by the constant violence and the politicising of the violence. Her mind dwelled on the chequered history of Kashmir.
Kashmir was a princely state and during partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, Vallabhbhai Patel of the Congress Party had played a vital role in giving Kashmir the right to choose between Pakistan and India. Places like Junagarh, Sind went to Pakistan. Hari Singh, the then King of Kashmir was Lord Mount Battén’s friend. He used Kashmir as a buffer between Afghanistan, Russia, China and India. Hari Singh opted to join with India which infuriated Pakistan. The situation changed drastically when newly elected Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru came to the forefront. Belonging to Kashmir himself, his relation with Hari Singh was cordial. He introduced Article 370 in the Constitution, that gave special status to Kashmir except in the spheres of Defence, Revenue and Communication. After Hari Singh, his 18 year old son, Karan Singh was made the Sadre Riyasat, the King. During this time, the Prime Minister of Jammu & Kashmir was Sheikh Abdullah. This is when the tension started brewing, fomenting into a boiling point between the Sheikh and Nehru. Around 1956-57, Nehru under Article 356, put Kashmir under President’s rule. Sheikh was arrested. The war of 1965 between India and Pakistan created the Line of Control and Pakistan and India occupied Kashmirs. Although the situation normalised under the next Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Kashmiris felt deep-rooted bitterness against the Indian Government. It was this mistrust and hostility that has been used as an advantage by USA and Pakistan with the help of local Kashmiri separatist groups under the name of religion which precipitated the onslaught of terrorism and bouts of violence all over Jammu & Kashmir and the Indian subcontinent. The demolition of Babri Masjid by Hindu fundamentalists in 1992 ignited the already boiling crisis and thus started the fresh spate of violence and extremism in Kashmir.
Slowly, one heard of training camps mushrooming with the help of outside terrorist groups from Afghanistan like the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad from Pakistan even though publicly they were banned in Pakistan. ‘Jehad’ a fairly misleading and misunderstood term originally meaning ‘struggle’ was being taught in madarsasdipped in violence and hatred across the border. Bright, young unemployed Kashmiri men were lured into this ‘so-called’ holy war of independence and turned into ‘fidayeen’ once they step on the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) to get trained. By 1987, the first lot of trained infiltrators penetrated from Line of Control (LOC) into India. Hundreds of ‘Jehadis’ were killed and ambushed by the Indian army and this resulted in the innocent villagers getting crushed between the army and the militants. Hundreds of refugees entered India due to backlash from Pakistan. They had nowhere to go except hope to lead a better life in some distant future when they would be able to call Kashmir their home and lead a peaceful life, getting education and employment in their home state.
Snigdha was hoping to catch the pathos of the tragic situation in Kashmir, the frustration and numb acceptance of their harsh reality, the constant fear and the glimmer of hope still shining in hundreds of youths who are living each day as it comes. The film would be a live, palpitating account of the agony of these people, a neutral approach that would delve deep into the psyche of these perpetrators of crime without glorifying them and create a saga that would make people sit and watch and maybe do something about it

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