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: