Srinagar: Professor of World Literature at Georgetown University in Qatar Ian Almond, who was visiting Kashmir as part of the Islamic University of Science and Technology’s maiden summer school has called Kashmir an ‘Un recognized Gaza’ and a ‘Beautiful place, but politically sobering experience’, after his return from the valley.
Taking to his official Facebook Account professor Ian Almond said that: “The most repeated remark I heard over these nine days was a constant frustrated comparison with Palestine – Kashmir is, in the eyes of many people here, a completely unrecognized Gaza.”
“Just got back from giving a week of seminars in Kashmir. Beautiful place, but politically sobering experience. I knew I would find many Kashmiris wanting independence, but was surprised to find such abundant sympathy for Pakistan. Widespread hatred of the Indian Army here, and complete antipathy towards the government,” he wrote on his FB wall.
Almond to his ‘Indian FB friends’ said that they would be ‘irritated by this’ but urged them to visit Kashmir saying – ‘you really should come here and see for yourself.’
“Tanks and military checkpoints everywhere. Estimated 70,000 deaths since 1989 – widespread torture and sexual violence. Hardly any Western tourists (we met six here in nine days) – but a large number of mostly middle class Hindu ‘yatra’ pilgrims are streaming in, resented by locals as a provocative and legitimizing presence. There is a great deal of poverty here, and a Srinagar elite held by many to be in collusion with Delhi,” he wrote.
Almond said that the youth here are largely religious, but with a tremendous thirst for outside knowledge.
“On the last day I gave a talk on Nietzsche and Islam to an (unexpectedly packed) hall. So many questions we couldn’t get out of the room. Silently amused to see the professors trying to keep hierarchy by only allowing colleagues, not students, to speak – but it didn’t work, the students kept shouting over their teachers. As always, the only positive thing to come out of any physical oppression is an awakened political consciousness. The most repeated remark I heard over these nine days was a constant frustrated comparison with Palestine – Kashmir is, in the eyes of many people here, a completely unrecognised Gaza,” he wrote.
Almond is a Former Professor at Georgia State University, Former Foreign Language Assistant at Europa-Universität Viadrina and a Former Visiting Lecturer at John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies.