Kashmir has been under lockdown for 181 days, since Article 370 was scrapped on August 5. The state’s major political leaders such as Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah, along with hundreds of civilians, are still under detention. So it was unsurprising that finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s decision to recite a Kashmiri poem while presenting Budget 2020 to signify “development” in the region struck many as cruel irony.
Sitharaman first recited the poem, written by Dina Nath Kaul, in Kashmiri and then the meaning in Hindi: “Humara watan khilte hue Shalimar bagh jaise, humara watan Dal lake mein khilte hue kamal jaisa, nau jawanon ke garam khoon jaisa.”
While the poem speaks of a “blooming” country, people in the erstwhile state, which has now been divided into two union territories, have been suffering due to the economic and political impact of the shutdown. In December, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that the Kashmiri economy suffered a loss of Rs 17,878 crore due to the severe restrictions imposed since 5 August 2019.
Sitharaman’s recitation riled up people, with many taking to Twitter to express their anguish.
Here’s what people said:
Kashmir ko band karwake waha economy barbad karke kashmiri poem suna rahe. Waah madam Waah— UTKARSH उत्कर्ष اتکرش 🇮🇳 (@uk_2911) February 1, 2020
she recites a poem in kashmiri? have some shame.— Surekha (@surekhapillai) February 1, 2020
After destroying kashmir and tamilnadu. These poems are nothing but pouring petrol on burning fire. #BJP will never bloom in these two states— santhosh (@santhosharul9) February 1, 2020
Nirmala ma’am reading out a Kashmiri poem is where irony came to die. #BudgetSession2020—...