Continuing Conflict

Protests in Kashmir

Riyan Rashid

People of Jammu and Kashmir have been struggling for their right of self-determination for more than six decades. Kashmir dispute started immediately after the partition of Indian subcontinent in 1947.

The 2010 civil unrest in Kashmir claimed more than 127 lives, mostly of youth, including those of juveniles like Wamiq Farooq, Zahid Farooq and Tufail Matoo. It was Kashmir's fourth generation since 1947 that was actively involved in the Kashmir dispute.

That year, Kashmir witnessed not only the peak of violations of human rights by the government forces, but also the birth of a new idea. The 2010 unrest also gave birth to the idea of openly joining the armed struggle against the Indian state, which created an atmosphere of receptive youth who had grown accustomed to the hostile situation prevalent in Kashmir.

As a result, the fear among Kashmiri youth filled out and boldness came to fore, a trait associated with personality development in educational institutions where one is taught to face the challenges.

Adolescence has innate ways of expression, heroism, and romance; the youth want to contribute towards social activism, as was evident from their activities in the 2014 floods when the entire Valley was inundated. For they have enormous energy when they act in tandem!

The killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander "Burhan Wani" in 2016 acted as a trigger for the youth to continue the resistance against the state. His death not only inspired dozens to join the armed struggle, but also motivated the younger generation to follow his footsteps.

To hold down these angry youth, Central government forces introduced bullets and pellets and the ruling PDP-led government added PAVA shells to make the situation worse.

On the other hand, this year, the government closed educational institutions in parts of Kashmir to maintain law and order. However, it created a dilemma and frustration among the youth. The arrests of minors and booking them under draconian laws such as Public Safety Act (PSA) worsened the situation on the ground. The situation is so critical that the students of Kashmir University are scared to leave the campus and go to their respective homes, as there is no guarantee whether they will reach home safely or next day they will find themselves behind the bars.

Whatever is the truth, it needs to be faced. In the age of information technology and social networking, deceit and lies will no longer help the authorities to cajole the people. And the truth is that Kashmir is a dispute, which needs to be resolved according to the aspirations of the people of Kashmir. One must accept the fact that Kashmir belongs to none but Kashmiris. The fact is that Kashmiris are tired and angry of the centre—it has caged them and now no military might, political gymnasium or media campaign can hold it for New Delhi anymore. Those who are theorising about Pakistan's involvement or so-called 'Wahabi Islam' can remain in those delusions as long as they desire. Don't be shocked by what is happening these days in Kashmir.

The way force is being used against students reflects either feeble mindedness or fascist face, masked by the lie of so-called democracy. One does not even treat animals the way security forces treat protesters here.

How can one love a state (Particularly its security establishment) that is up against its own people? Before discussing Kashmir why don't they come and live here for few years? Then they may need no explanation of the situation here. Kashmiris are tried of false promises. What India is getting by keeping the Kashmir dispute unresolved? What India is getting by holding the land only and not winning the people?

The problem of Kashmir remains because neither India nor Pakistan is arguing logically. If Pakistan only insists that it has the right to absorb the rest of the Kashmir because of religion and if India insists on its secularism and as a result refuses to consider any alternative solution, there is no common ground where these two sides will meet. Thus, any discussion, just like those before will be futile.

It is essential to change the mindset of these countries so that they can think about the "unthinkable" taboo that has prevailed them to reach a logical compromise. That 'unthinkable' taboo is the remains of the illogical and asymmetric system imposed by India on itself, by not going through the logical steps required at the time of the partition in 1947.

If the exchange of population would have taken place in 1947, Kashmir problem could not emerge, just like Bengal and Punjab in 1947, Kashmir would have been partitioned long tine ago. Time has come to take these logical steps, which can solve the problem once for all and remove the fear of a nuclear war in the subcontinent.

Vol. 50, No.2, Jul 16 - 22, 2017