Cinemas and liquor won’t bring peace
|January 2, 2012||Posted by Shehla Rashid under Kashmir, Politics, Shehla Rashid in Print|
JUST DAYS ago, the media widely reported that Farooq Abdullah, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, President of the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference and father of the incumbent chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, had remarked that, ‘Cinemas and liquor shops should reopen in Kashmir to give more options to tourists visiting the state’ and that ‘Steps like reopening of cinemas and liquor sale would boost the tourism industry in the state’. This has inevitably triggered an intense debate. Among the hardliners in Kashmir politics, chair of Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Shah Geelani has taken the stand that, ‘Islam declares liquor as the mother of all evils and orders punishment against those who consume it.’ The local Jamaat-e-Islami declared that, ‘Whether it is a liquor shop or the cinema hall; both are sources of propagation of obscenity, immorality and imprudence.’ Really? If this was not sufficiently convoluted, at the opposite end of the spectrum are arguments that would make one think that the apparent ‘denial’ of cinema and liquor to tourists in Kashmir (or even to Kashmiris) is something akin to violation of fundamental human rights. In order to ascertain what the reality is and what ought to be done, one first needs to cut through this thick fog of rhetoric.