General Officer Commanding (GoC) of Srinagar-based Army’s 15 Corps Lieutenant General D P Pandey
General Officer Commanding (GoC) of Srinagar-based Army’s 15 Corps Lieutenant General D P Pandey

SRINAGAR — The outgoing General officer Commanding (GoC) 15 Corps Lieutenant General D P Pandey sounded sanguine about Kashmir during his last speech and said that the valley has come a long way, with doors for peace, stability, progress, prosperity and happiness opening up like never before.

The officer, according to news agency KDC, on the sidelines of a function at Army’s 15 Corps headquarter said that for someone who has seen this wonderful land of resplendence called Kashmir for 36 years of professional career during its various phases of tragedy and tumult, fortune and success revealing a number of hues and shades, this hope is not words alone. “This hope is driven closely by the fortitude, commitment and energy of Kashmiris like all of you,” he said.

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While underscoring the congenial environment of the valley, Pandey said that we have come a long way to an important juncture in recent history where doors for peace, stability, progress, prosperity and happiness are opening up like never before.

“There is a popular saying that success comes through lanes and from backyards, not from the front door. This is so true for our Kashmir today,” he said.

Praising Kashmir, Pandey said that anything you sow in a land of beauty – Kashmir – grows in its most exquisite and beautiful form from apples to plums to apricot to saffron to Nadru to almonds and all seasonal vegetables one can imagine.

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“Jo bo diya wohi ug jata hai… shayad pathar bhi bo do toh pathar nikal aayega. Therefore, I believe, in Kashmir, if you sow hate, you will get hate but if you sow love, peace and harmony. The choice is with the people of Kashmir,” he said.

Pandey while talking about Kashmir’s history which saw both good and bad times, said that after 1947 when Kashmiris smelled the fragrance of democracy, the seeds of ambiguity were sown for 75 years and the narratives of riding two horses for personal advantages were built.

“In the 80s, the seeds of Azadi came to sprout only to be replaced by seeds of separatism and radicalization,” Pandey said, adding that the stories of the 90s are well known but rarely spoken of; while “driving out” Pandits, even many Muslims left valley due to the prevailing conditions.

Talking about women folk, he said that it is another appreciable aspect that their voices are growing in the Kashmiri cultural landscape. “It is so heartening to see the fairer gender taking the lead on so many platforms, so far dominated by men. Glorious successes of our Kashmiri women in fields of sports, politics, administration, journalism and business entrepreneurship are explicit examples of the new normal, to which the society is opening up,” said Pandey.

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Hinting towards the improving conditions evolving in the valley, he said that it is so heartening to learn that over 3.5 lakh tourists, mostly domestic, have visited Kashmir in the last three months. This number is expected to go up in the coming months. As many as 6.6 lakh tourists from across the county visited the valley in 2021, which is a considerable increase from figures of the past, the officer said.

Pandey said that the generations of the 90s shied away to admit their mistakes of sowing the wrong seeds. “They will not accept it as it is difficult to, and they will ensure their future generation follows their path to violence and hate through the narrative of victimhood and hate… Youth account for 60% of the Kashmiri population,” the officer said, adding, “It is time for you to take charge and sow the seeds of success, love and happiness for the generations of the future… Find your smile – nobody else can do it for you, definitely not the older generation. Embrace the truth and live life in this birth.”

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