When Rahul Gandhi went to Srinagar last month, he concluded, “There is massive progress in Kashmir, there is progress in the sentiment of the people, there is progress in the connectivity in Kashmir, there is progress in tourism.” He could not be more wrong about the sentiment of the people.
His misconceptions are shared by many in the rest of India. The first is that the Abdullahs reflect the democratic wishes of the Kashmiri people. Local Kashmiris tell you dismissively that Omar Abdullah, like his father, is the “chief minister of Delhi”—that he is appointed by Delhi. They care nothing for the duo’s political authority. The second misconception is that if ordinary Kashmiris are going about their business quietly, they must be happy. After all, they have set up a Gujarati hotel in Srinagar and all the restaurants in Pahalgam now cater mainly to vegetarian tourists—with perhaps just one chicken dish for the stray carnivore.