Other Side of the Kashmir Story

Issues of Kashmir and the Kashmiri people has always been a 'cool' topic to have a dicsussion on the College Katta. Everyone has a strong opinion about the things happening in Kashmir, without visiting the place and without actually knowing what the Kashmiris feel, totally based on what the mainstream media shows us. But while focusing on that picture, we often fail to see what the ground reality would be in Kashmir.

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But the social media plays a vital role is such circumstances. Recently, a video of an officer of the Indian army and a Kashmiri boy is getting viral in the social media and the story behind it is simply precious. However, such stories are never shown through the mainstream media. What they show is only the violence and the Anti- Indian sentiment of the Kashmiris, which is not really prevailing in a significant amount in the valley anymore.
In the video, we see a Specially- abled deaf and mute Kashmiri boy interacting with an Indian Army Officer and telling him, in sign language that he wants to be an Officer in the Indian Army just like the one he is talking to, once he grows up. Well, the conversation which became viral and is winning hearts is not a random one, but the both share a deeper and close bond with each other. The two know each other since last four months and the young boy couldn't help but is highly motivated to join the army as an officer because of the close bond he shares with the Major.

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Major Kamlesh Mani, who is seen interacting with the young boy, is a Major in 21 RR (Rashtriya Rifles), who met the boy around four months ago during a routine patrol in the valley. While he was interacting with the boy, when he first met him, a close bond was established between the two and since then they meet, chat and relax with each other quite often. And this is not just it but there's much more that Major Mani is doing for the Gawhar Mir, the young boy.
Gawhar Ashraf Mir, lives in the Chanjimula village of the Kashmir Valley, where mainly the Rashtriya Rifles is deployed considering the security concerns. Gawhar comes from a large family of 9 people, among which 4, including himself, his sister, father and uncle, are deaf and mute. Major Kamlesh Mani has taken the responsibility of the child's education and has sponsored his studies. The Major also takes care of Gawhar's everyday necessities like clothes, shoes and other medical necessities. Major Mani had also bought him a smart phone, so that his studies won't be affected by the Pandemic.

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Although the kid has been living in Kashmir since his birth but he had never been able to go even slightly away from his village. It was with Major Mani, that Gawhar visited Gulmarg for the first time and his happiness at that time was just precious. Since the boy is adopted by the army Major, he proudly calls himself an Indian Army kid and this close relation of the boy with the army has planted the idea in his heart to raise himself as an Officer for the army.
Major Mani has taken complete responsibility of Gawhar's medical condition as well. The boy is 70% disabled, which is why the officer is also seeking help from the District hospital at Handwara. The boy's family has also agreed and given the Officer the permission to get him treated from outside the district if necessary. For the young boy, who dreams his life to be of a certain type, with lesser struggles and a happy place, Major Kamlesh Mani is the only hope, so when asked what does he wish to do when grown up, he instinctively said without any hesitation that he wants to become like the officer.

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Major Kamlesh Mani is an alumnus of NDA, Khadakwasla- Pune. Further as a Gentleman Cadet at IMA, he was also awarded President's Gold Medal as he had stood first in overall merit in 2013. There are so many Officers of the Indian Army in the Kashmir Valley working for the upliftment of the Kashmiri Awam and touching their lives on a personal level. And this is not something extraordinary, but these are the basic qualities that cadet nurtures in himself before he joins the Indian army as an officer. This honest sentiment of an army officer to serve the nation by creating a secured future for the people, what the world finds to be extraordinary is actually something very innate that every army officer has within himself.
There are many more of such Indian army kids like Gawhar in Kashmir and more inspiring stories like that of Major Kamlesh Mani but unfortunately, the mainstream media chooses to see only the ugly picture.
- Himali Nalawade