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We aren’t that hospitable actually!

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 True that we love to see others conquering the peaks but we get panic attacks if we see our relatives taking just one step forward!

By: Mahfooz Ahmad Bakshi

I often hear from outsiders that Kashmir is famous for the hospitality of its people, which is something I should be proud of as a Kashmiri. However, I honestly find it biased. Kashmir, a place defamed by the media, is indeed a heaven on Earth, and I agree with that. But what creates confusion in my mind is when outsiders compliment the people of Kashmir too much. I sincerely believe that most of the people here do not deserve that many compliments. [You can criticize me and accuse me of defaming, but I’m still not going to lie.] Some are really no less than angels, some truly deserve respect, but most of the people don’t, actually! This may evoke anger, so let me explain it to you clearly.

The question is, why do we Kashmiri people act kindly towards outsiders but cruelly towards our neighbors? We act so supportive towards outsiders but pull the legs of neighbors, relatives, other fellow Kashmiris and hinder them from achieving their goals. I mean, what do we want to prove by that?

Now, you might say that such people exist in every corner of the world, but I think my homeland, my motherland, my heaven, has this issue and, in my capacity, I rather talk about that leaving the world to decide for itself. We spend so much just to appear spotless in the eyes of outsiders, but our next-door neighbors suffer at our hands.

This is why they say Kashmir is famous for the hospitality of its people. No, it shouldn’t be famous for that it should be famous for the hospitality of “SOME” people. It’s important to write and say “SOME” here.

Black magic, jealousy, discrimination, and what not! Everything is found here in abundance. To realise and observe this, you just need to be a Kashmiri living in a Kashmiri society and the disadvantage of being a Kashmiri is that you have to face all these things if you want success. It’s like fighting a battle on your own!

We have a tumultuous environment here as jealousy lurks in the shadows and casts doubt on genuine accomplishments. Discrimination, whether overt or subtle, adds an extra layer of complexity to the journey. The societal landscape echoes of historical and political complexities that often intertwines with personal aspirations!

It’s great to treat outsiders well but treating neighbours differently is an unfair and inhumane act! Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) emphasized the importance of treating neighbors with kindness and respect. The prophet of Allah (Peace be upon Him) said, “Gabriel kept recommending about treating neighbors with kindness until I thought he would assign a share of inheritance.” This highlights the emphasis on the significance of good treatment towards neighbors!

As a columnist, it’s my responsibility to criticize constructively. I’m not at all trying to defame the people; rather, I’m exposing the reality, revealing the truth with the intention that this might make a little change in society. You see, when you need help, outsiders do not come over to help as quickly as next-door neighbors.

After writing this, I shared it with my readers, and I received a lot of messages from non-locals thanking me for being honest enough while expressing their experience about the interactions with Kashmiri people. A woman from Bangalore said that she observed exactly the same as written in this article as she spent some months in a typical Kashmiri family in 2022. Many tourists have had the worst experience here in Kashmir because of the hypocrites who unfortunately defame the whole Kashmiri community. Somebody told me that if Kashmir was the land of religious scholars, preachers [Sufism) then why do most of the people appear hypocrites, unfair, inhumane, and so on?

It underscores the urgency of a collective effort within the Kashmiri society to not only rectify these misconceptions but also to hold individuals accountable for their actions. This stark contrast between reputation and reality demands a closer examination of societal values and their practical application. It raises questions about the role of education, cultural influence, and communal responsibility in shaping individual behaviours.

The issue that I tried to highlight requires a multifaceted approach. First and foremost we need to stop being judgmental, we need to stop unwanted classification of people and we need to stop showing off. Before spending thousands on outsiders, we should spend a little to feed our needy neighbours. Respect isn’t something that you can buy, it can only be earned through kindness, honesty and humanity. In conclusion I want to say that we Kashmiris are also known for being extravagant, we love to waste tons of food but we are ashamed of giving it away! We love to see others capturing the peaks but we get panic attacks if we see our relatives taking just one step forward!

The writer is currently pursuing graduation.  He can be reached at [email protected]}

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