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I returned from my Republic Day recreation with a phrase from Vivekananda stuck in the murky depths of my mind. Much as I tried, I couldn’t extricate it therefrom. It was, I was sure, one of those dangerous phrases that he spat out in his usual hurry to get the general idea across. I happen to be one of those people who think that he meant well—or at least every time that he said something that I subsequently came to read—I suspect that he simply didn’t care much whether he sounded polite or correct (or politically correct) in the course of

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One evening, when I got back to the hotel, I got a call from a friend asking if I had managed to reach safely. He had found himself in the middle of protests and stone-pelting around Lal Chowk area. For the last few days, people in and around Lal Chowk had begun to defy the ‘hartal’ call. Shops had started keeping half their shutters open even during ‘hartal’ hours. There were more and more street vendors each day selling essential commodities. By the time it was evening, Lal Chowk area would be full of people. In the stone pelting incident,

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A temple in Habba Kadal area of Srinagar. Photograph by Kabir Agarwal Early in the morning, I walked to the Barbar Shah area of Srinagar to meet a Kashmiri Pandit. He is one of the fore most voices representing the Pandits who did not leave the Valley. He was waiting for me on the road. We shook hands and he started to walk, expecting me to follow. I did. We walked through lanes which were not large enough to accommodate the two of us walking side by side. He would lead, I would obediently follow. At various points, he would

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A pellet injured boy at the ophthalmology ward of Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital (SMHS) in Srinagar. Photograph by Ahmer Khan/Dawn The day began with a visit to the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital (SMHS) in Srinagar. This is where most of the pellet gun victims have come for treatment. Since July 9, there have been more than 900 people admitted to this hospital with pellet injuries to their eyes. Some have been hit in both eyes. Doctors say that any kind of injury to eye which causes even temporary loss of vision is treated as a grievous injury. By

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A graffiti in Nawa Kadal area of downtown Srinagar, one of the most volatile areas in the city. Photograph by Kabir Agarwal I’m starting to get used to life without mobile internet. It is not that bad. There are a few adjustments to be made. I try and wrap up some of my internet communication in the morning before heading out and do the rest in the evening when I return. A couple of times I have been left deeply hurt when there were no non-group WhatsApp messages in the evening when I returned. Not having mobile internet has forced

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A group of journalists protesting against the ban on the daily Kashmir Reader newspaper in Press Enclave, Srinagar on 25 October 2016. Photograph by Kabir Agarwal A good night’s sleep under the belt, I headed to the Press Enclave in Srinagar to talk to a video journalist who has been reporting from Kashmir since 1979. He has been roughed up several times by the government forces. “Too many times to be able to count,” he says. He was of the opinion that it was more difficult for the press to report during the 2010 unrest than the present one, as

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This is the second part of a daily series - Kashmir Diary, written by Kabir Agarwal over the next few days of his stay in Kashmir.

21 October 2016 I did not manage good sleep on my first night in Srinagar, as I twisted, turned and tried to roll myself in the blanket provided. I was awake much before my alarm was to go off and kept trying, in vain, to get more sleep. As the alarm rang, I finally gave up and got up to get ready for my first appointment this time in Kashmir. I was to meet a senior journalist who has covered Kashmir for the BBC, Al Jazeera and Times of India, among others. Having not experienced winter in a long time,

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This is the first part of a daily series - Kashmir Diary, written by Kabir Agarwal over the next few days of his stay in Kashmir.

On 5 October, when I mentioned to my maternal grandmother that I might be going to Kashmir soon, she told me, “Please take me with you.” I explained to her that even I’m myself undecided about going, as I was yet to convince any editor to publish my stories. She was born in a Kashmiri Pandit family, but never actually lived in the Valley. She would often visit the Valley for long periods, stay with people previously unknown to her and come back having formed close friendships. She would write letters to them regularly, knit sweaters for them and send,

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Cartoon by Mir Suhail (Kashmir Observer) Transparency has to be the essence of any democracy and India claims to be the world’s largest. The previous Congress-led government takes credit for bringing transparency in governance. The party face Rahul Gandhi couldn’t speak of anything other than the ‘Right to Information’ that the Congress government made possible. However, the times have changed now, the values have changed, and the idea of transparency has reached a higher level. It’s perhaps the first time in the history of independent India when policies of defence, foreign relations, border security and military plans are no more

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