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MOHAMMAD AHSEEM

For many historiographers, history is the yearly stacking of meaningful events affecting the collective life of a society. In temporal terms, years come and go but what remains of these in individual as well as collective memories are imprints of significant events with cues of recovery in bygone calendar years. The recent history of Kashmir is momentous. Calendar years of recent past have actually become connotations of significant episodes in Kashmir. Year 1990 of the last century connotes the onset of militancy in Kashmir. Rather than using the phrase ‘the onset of militancy’, people here prefer ninety.

Years 1991 and 1992 stands for ‘operation catch and kill’. After the turn of the century, years 2008 and 2010 evoke strong emotional and psychological response from the locals. Year 2008, the twin rape incident at Shopian and the subsequent uprising and killing of youth; 2010, the year of resurrection of freedom movement among the youth of valley and the death of 122 young men at the hands of government forces are some more calendar years that will consume many pages in the history books.

Year 2012 attains significance as the most peaceful year in the last 22 years in terms of the violence related incidents. Five districts were violence free as far as militancy related incidents are concerned.

However, the year that is nearing its end will be more remembered for the record number of tourists who visited valley, in comparative terms. This year, the local tourism industry attained real vibrancy that was felt to be missing since it took off some years back. Hotels of all categories recorded full occupancy for many months. The industry received a shot in the arm with the visit of some Bollywood superstars for film shoots at various local destinations. As per the industry insiders, the occupancy never fell to zero during the year. Associated trades also received a fillip by earning some quick bucks. Many new hotels and guest houses were thrown open including a few for high-end tourists. The rush saw many residential houses being converted into guest houses. For people here, the year 2012 if labeled as the year of tourism, won’t be a misnomer.

However, all didn’t remain well during the year. The number of regular tourists apart, the death of many pilgrims on their way to Amarnath shrine and the suo motto cognizance of Supreme Court over many issues concerning the annual yatra, created a controversy over the building of concrete roadway to the holy shrine. The controversy fortunately remained restricted to newsprints only and died down unassumingly.

The city tourism centered on Dal Lake didn’t see much development. Opening of a few parks around it aside, no new initiatives were taken for the restoration of its glory. The issue of relocation of houseboats, considered to be one of the causes of its growing pollution, didn’t receive any focus; so was the case with Dal dwellers. No further progress was made over their relocation to Rakh-e-Arth. The issue remained in cold storage during the year.

While picnic spots like Dodpathri had some development in terms of infrastructure, Lidder river in Pahalgam continued to be polluted with government having nothing concrete to conserve the natural water body.

By and large, the year saw very little being done by the government for the development of tourism industry. Even though the efforts for promoting brand Kashmir outside state and country paid off to a considerable extent, no seriousness could be seen for its promotion internally.

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