When a vibrant Kashmir is painted in radical colours

Kashmir culture
Protests and demands may draw a conservative picture of Kashmir while in reality liquor, movies and music were very much a part of the Valley | Illustration - Prathap Ravishankar

Reports of opening 183 liquor shops in Jammu and Kashmir stirred up the proverbial political hornet’s nest in the Valley. Religious and political organisations alleged it was a “cultural aggression” on Kashmir, and were only pacified after the Jammu and Kashmir administration clarified that no such decision will be taken “without the participation of stakeholders”.

The issue of alcohol, just like films and music, has been a hot potato in the Valley’s cultural  discourse over the past few decades, stirring controversies. This time too, religious bodies like Mutahida Majlis-e-Ulema, an amalgam of different socio-religious organisations, protested against the proposal, accusing the government of “bringing ordinances and rules to change the demography of the Muslim majority of the state” and assaulting “religious sentiments”.

Interestingly, in 2018, BJP’s current Jammu and Kashmir president and former MLA Ravinder Raina too had demanded a blanket ban on alcohol and bars and the declaring of Jammu and Kashmir a dry state.

Such protests and demands may draw a conservative picture of Kashmir while in reality liquor, movies and music were very much a part of the Valley as they are elsewhere in the 1980s.

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