It was a long detailed interview but here it is important to quote him on the significance of travelling especially if one has to report on the human situation. “How I travel! Well, I catch the bus. No reservations about that. Also, I prefer to travel alone. For my profession traveling is a must as I want to see for myself the situations and ground realities, whether here in our country, or in Iran, Poland, or in Afghanistan… Till date I slog, do a lot of work, as I believe that if an old car is kept in the garage for too long it stops working!” Also stands out his comment on the decay that had already begun to set in and spread out in our country, “ In Modern Indian society there could be less taboos and individual freedom is encouraged, but do let me add, with emphasis, that with all our modern living a great amount of insensitivity has crept in. Norms have been shattered. There is no concept of Indian-ness left, and only the RSS views are thriving in this so-called Modern India ….We have not developed culturally and that’s the root cause of our decay.”
And author – journalist, Ajit Bhattacharjea, held the distinction of being the first Indian journalist who started reporting from the Kashmir Valley, right since 1947, he wrote for years on the Kashmir situation, travelling in and around the Valley, authored books , including the biography of Sheikh Abdullah.
I would meet Ajit Bhattacharjea regularly here in New Delhi and I’d also met him in Srinagar when we were both in the Valley. And during the course of an interview with me, he had stated – “ The first time I had arrived in Srinagar was in 1947, soon after our troops landed there…and I had witnessed the help the Kashmiris had provided in resisting the invasion by the Pathan tribals, sent in by Pakistan …Today the essential tragedy of the situation is the very contrast between the Valley of the late 1940s (when the Kashmiris were resisting the Pathan tribals sent in by Pakistan ) with what’s seen today. Today it’s the same Kashmiris who are crying out ‘Azaadi’ from India.”
To the ‘ whys’ inherent in this changed situation, he had detailed, “ Then, there was a link between the Valley people with Sheikh Abdullah and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru …Mind you, that link was secularism together with socialism, since both these leaders believed in secularism and also in socialism. So the Kashmiris were with India and rejected Pakistan because for them it didn’t stand for either socialism or secularism …Also, now, over the years the Hindutva political parties here have exerted their influence over Government of India. With that several other factors came up and all this made the Kashmiris disappointed.”