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Voices from Kashmir
Ghulam Mohiuddin Khan
Ishaq Khan
Sajjad Lone
Kashmiri separatist
Mohammad Sadiq
Hotel manager
Tahir Mohiuddin
Newspaper editor
Sajjad Hussain
Hindu refugee

Sajjad Hussain

Sajjad Hussain, 19, is a student in a polytechnic in Kargil, Kashmir. His family is originally from Baltistan, which lies in Pakistan's disputed Northern Areas. Passionate about the issues that confront his generation he is involved in student politics. He has lived in Kargil all his life and lives at home with his parents and two sisters.

I grew up in Kargil and have lived here all my life. I am proud to be a Kashmiri.

Different ethnic groups live side by side in Kargil
This is a state rich in its cultural heritage. We have Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists living side by side and in harmony for generations.

Unfortunately, everything in Kashmir today has become associated with the religious divide. The Hindus and Buddhists who have lived with us for generations want out.

That is because their minds are being poisoned by interest groups and political parties - not because of any inherent problems between us.

Standing by India

The people of this part of Kashmir have always stood by India. When Pakistani intruders tried to cross into Kargil in the summer of 1999, we alerted the Indian army.

But look at our living conditions. We don't have proper roads, hospitals or schools. Kargil is the poorest corner of Kashmir - our markets are falling apart, our streets are filthy.

There are many young people in Kashmir today who are frustrated and disillusioned. They need something to look forward to and someone to look up to.
But even more than the Delhi government, we blame our state administration and the ruling National Conference.

They have done nothing to improve our lives. They get a huge amount of funds from the federal government.

The money passes from Delhi to the state government, ministers, bureaucrats and local administrators. After they have all taken their cut, what's left for us?

What this state lacks is leadership. We need somebody with vision and somebody who will look our for us.

I don't blame Delhi for all that's wrong with us. But I blame them for banking on Kashmiri politicians who only enrich themselves and care for no-one else's welfare.

We are being asked to vote and choose our representatives. Who do we pick? I haven't seen a single party or politician with a programme that talks about our problems or deals with issues close to our heart.

Divided and isolated

Kargil is an isolated town. We used to part of a larger state with close links to Baltistan and Gilgit, as well as the Kashmir Valley. Historically, we even had ties to Central Asia and Tibet. Our ancestors came from Iran.

But look at us today. We are split into three units - and divided between India, Pakistan and China. And now people want us to be divided further.

There are proposals, internationally-backed, to turn the Line of Control into an international border between India and Pakistan.

How can plans be made to divide us without consulting those who live here?

We live in constant fear of being shelled
We don't like Pakistan. We live in constant fear of being shelled by the Pakistani army. They destroy our homes and our lives.

Today we were shelled for hours. Our new airport, which is yet to open, was targeted.

India has yet to get us an air link which will connect us to the rest of the country. Pakistan wants to ensure we stay unconnected. That's our reality.

India is a democratic country and we have faith in its democracy and its commitment to a multi-faith society.

All we ask for is for somebody to stand up for us and our aspirations. There are many young people in Kashmir today who are frustrated and disillusioned.

They need something to look forward to and someone to look up to.

We have dreams as well but at the moment we have no hope of turning them into a reality.

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