Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Agonies of kashmiris

Bhupinder Kohli
Warm fabric, intricate thread work, patient and exquisite craftmanship well- deserves a wow!! Especially for the popularity that the Cashmere (Kashmiri) tag enjoys. An ultimate style statement attached along with cozy comfort is just marvellous. No wonder with winter onset wait for Kashimiri shawlwalas, alias Cashmere shawl vendors begins...

In the afternoon women, the undisputed patrons of shawls are free from house chore, move out in the respective verandahs for basking and chitchatting, the seasonal immigrants from the "janat (heaven) on earth" come riding on bicycles with bundle of exquisite shawls carefully tied on the carrier rest.

As soon as these migratory birds reach Delhi, Chandigarh or any other part of "India;" as they address the Indian mainland without slightest hesitation of being loud about their notion of their coming from a separate homeland called Kashmir; they are out in search for someone who can arrange necessities for them out of Kashmir.

Unlike the Kashmiri shawls have shrunk to stolls, but their problems are have grown. Bashir Ahmed Mir, another Kashmiri who eagerly waits for November to come down to the city beautiful calls Chandigarh his second home and addresses Chandigarhians as 'estyle ke shaukin.' (living upto style statement). He narrates his agony about kashmiris being treated as foreigners by government in simple, yet heartening words: "We would get a house on rent and inform the police station about our residence and get registered on basis of our voter ID card.” Well! Laws are laws and they have accepted it.

Bashir says that every year he is here with his buddies. Adding, "What bothers us the most is arranging necessities like gas cylinders…” They stay in groups of four-five people, including a cook. Though these Kashmiris are regular migrants, yet each time they hit the place they ought to get identification done. “It’s the biggest problem we continue facing year after year." Is there a solution to the agony of many bashirs who continue facing the music without a hint that what is there fault?

A 44-year-old matric pass shawl vendor, Mohammed Ramzan Mir from Mattan Khairbug, Anantnag has been coming down to Chandigarh or Delhi every winter for past 22 years. But each time with a different style statement. Talking about his experience in the mainland India, Mir says: "Due to disturbance in valley, it's hard to sustain on tourism. So, to earn dal-chawal for the family and maintain a decent living, we were forced to switch over to a new profession." ...that's a smart way out than permanently moving out of your homeland!!
Above all, these migratory birds carry back home employment opportunities for many a homes. He adds, "There are many fashion designers, weavers, embroiders and other food to many other houses in Kashmir too. What appears to be a seasonal job but keeps them on the run round the year. Before moving out of their territory they need to have ample of pieces ready. That's what keeps them busy in summers. Mir adds, "So, it has turned into important industry that provides employment to thousands of Kashmiris facing the music in the valley. Many craftsman involved in preparing every shawl." What if this source of income takes a pause what would be the state there…"

Labels: , , , ,