A positive Response For Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kashmir

 A surreal scene was unfolding at the three entrances of the Shere-Kashmir cricket stadium where Prime Minister Narendra Modi had landed with a big entourage and was beginning to get into his speech.

Kashmiris, in their dishevelled pherans, started leaving the venue immediately as Modi began to passionately talk about his great love for the land of Kashmir. Modi, himself wearing an immaculate pheran to make a political statement, was completely oblivious to the restive army of pherans that was clamouring to get outside.

 Initially, the policemen, under strict orders from their handlers inside, refused to allow anyone to leave the venue. The massed obstreperous crowd, scampering from entrance to concertina-wire-barred entrance, was turning recalcitrant and started hooting and shouting.

As the tension was building up, the security personnel, apprehending trouble, allowed the army of pherans to leave the venue from the middle entrance. Outside, the Kashmiris, watched alertly by hundreds of fully equipped para forces, left in groups for their homes. The army of pherans marching in unison even as the prime minister, nattily turned out in the local dress, was telling them how the Kashmiris were close to his heart.

Getting to the stadium itself was a difficult task with many thick layers of security making sure there wasn't a scope for trouble. The securitymen spent more than 3-4 minutes frisking each person, asking the Kashmiris to lift their pherans repeatedly.

In the biting cold, the entire exercise took on a different, ominous tone. Amid denuded chinar trees and an insipid sun that regularly played hide and seek with the clouds, the monotonous lifting of pherans must have increased the Kashmiri despair. Perhaps enamoured of Modi and his grand talk of development, perhaps wanting to get a glimpse of the prime minister, the rally-bound Kashmiris took everything in their stride and came to register their presence at the event.

Despite the intrepid army of pherans, which had been ritually lifted, despite the presence of many local Muslim leaders, despite a tremendous buildup, despite the media hype, despite everything, not many turned out at the rally. Modi grandly told the audience he was elated to see large numbers, but his please-all euphoria was in stunning contrast to the many empty plastic seats that spoke eloquently of Kashmir's immense emptiness.

"People had waited for three hours for Modi to arrive. Kashmiris are impatient by nature, and rightfully so. We have seen a lot of turmoil. Perhaps some people who had come all the way from Anantnag and Kupwara couldn't follow the language," said a patient Anees Mir, a commerce teacher who had travelled from Balhama, 20 kilometres from the state capital.
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