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Kashmir, current crisis and the solution

8/23/2016 10:23:25 PM

Akhter Bhat

I don’t know about rest of the world but I am sure that every open-eyed Kashmiri is well aware of all the circumstances that this state has gone through for all these years of conflict. All such people across the state know it and the constant occurrence and reoccurrence of events around them have gradually elaborated the ambit of their observation and understanding. Their understanding has gone through a long process of filtration. The situation hasn’t only provided them with plenty of opportunities to understand the conflict in its simplest form but has also allowed them to understand its political, social and economical implications. The credibility of their conclusions lies in the very fact that their understanding is not only based on what radio, TV, newspapers or internet reported but is based on their constant face-offs with the real situation on ground. The only credit I would like to award this long period of political unrest in Kashmir would be its provision of providing Kashmiries with some critical space in the battlefield of diverse political ideologies, each one of them representing or atleast claiming to represent the true voice of Kashmiries. They have lived every moment of the conflict. They saw almost everything, visible as well as invisible, hidden as well as what was deliberately shown to them. They saw hundreds giving away orders, thousands killing and lakhs getting killed. They saw a few powerful opinion leaders playing with the fate of million others for their own individual or organizational aspirations and very ironically, they also wanted these millions of Kashmiri sufferers to certify their insensitive efforts so that they could enjoy the status of ‘public representation’ within the state and outside it. The Kashmir situation should definitely hold a significant space in the history of world when written later for its extremely unique significance. While our world has witnessed things like social reforms, revolutions, renaissance, colonialism, nationalistic thrusts and then eventually freedom moments in the past, which was followed by the phase of independence, peace and prosperity across the globe, unfortunately for a few places like Kashmir the history fell a step back and swooped down to some basic things like human rights, independence etc. Now how to define independence or atleast the right of Kashmiries to determine it for them, becomes another challenge in terms of Kashmir situation. It becomes a bigger challenge when it comes to defining it to all those who have already moved a chapter ahead in the history of the world order, making it almost impossible for them to imagine the state of affairs their ancestral tales talk about in all these rusted books lying on the shelves of their libraries and reading rooms. Which should be fine, it definitely is not their mistake. It never was. However, it definitely puts a question mark on the credibility and capability of all those people who claim to be the sole representatives of the ‘people’s voice’ in Kashmir as they have never been able to justify the common aspirations of the people who they claim to be representing. Every one of them seems to have his/her own version of settling the issue and there are hundreds of such versions and the number increases steadily with each passing day with more and more of such crooked representatives and organizations coming in to play their cards. Was it in the name of Islamic jihad or freeing Kashmir from India or freeing it from both, India and Pakistan and remaining independent or freeing it from India and giving it to Pakistan or for that matter freeing it from Pakistan and giving it to India, has never been clear. Very surprisingly it is still not clear to many Kashmiries. Sometimes Kashmiries would hoist ISIS flags, another time they would go for a Pakistani flag and at times around Indian national days they openly hoist Indian tiranga! They chant the slogans of Aazadi and also talk about merging with Pakistan at the same time. All of this is so mind-blowing that at times it pushes your tolerance level to its limits, to an extend that you simply want to pick them up one after another for a tight slap right into their faces. 

However, over the last few years there is a recognizable change that can be felt in their attitudes. In comparison with the Kashmir of eighties and nineties, the number of Kashmir related obsessions has recognizably gone down. The most apparent reason behind it seems the fact that people of Kashmir got enough time to filter their understandings and review their culminations. But that doesn’t mean that the current Kashmir doesn’t have any Pak admirers who, if given a chance, won’t love merging with Pakistan at any point of time. There are definitely loads of people who like Pakistan and would anytime want Kashmir to be amalgamated with Pakistan. And that even in a situation when most of them know how Pakistan has continuously failed to manage the diversity of sentiments within its own state. In-spite of trying its level best Pakistan has time and again failed to control the growth of radical elements in its society. Pakistan is still one of the hottest hubs of international terrorism and one of the worst affected victims as well. But this aspect is perhaps not included in the list of parameters on the basis of which such Kashmiri Pak admirers wish to decide their choice upon! For others who represent the narrative of Azaadi, it becomes another challenge to have a conversation with such Pak obsessed Kashmiries. They simply cannot question the integrity of their Pak obsession. Afterall why wouldn’t you shut your mouth in situations where you feel your words can invite some danger? And I think that is fine. It is not something unique to Kashmiries. Infact the whole world is like that only. Why would I hurt my economic ambitions or atleast my future aspirations as any of the world’s nations by speaking or acting against any of the world superpowers even if the intensity of human atrocities and brutalities associated with any event--which directly or indirectly involves any of such nations--tests my tolerance level to its extremes? And even if I react, it won’t be anything more than conducting a small candle lighting session at one of my city’s most visible squares to grab the spicy attention of global media and nothingelse…anyways.

Another defining feature of the tribe Kashmiri is their centuries old character of skipping sides which they have continued to display for ages. This process of swindling continues messing up their issue. And when it comes to politics, they mess almost everything, even themselves. They pick up guns and grenades, go for protests and boycotts, etc on one side and participate in elections on the other. Though we have seen situations like 1996 elections where you had to vote atleast to get that dark blue stain on one of your fingers to save yourself from being banged by the security forces , but that doesn’t mean that Kashmiries didn’t vote in the elections that followed even when no such force was used. They dance to the beats of Aazadi. They shake the whole of their bodies when NC, PDP or Congress etc beats the drums. They lose their brains to the heavens when Lashker or Harkat or Jaish talk about Jihaad even if they don’t understand what the term ‘jihad’ means. They sing ‘Kashmir banega Pakistan’ when DJ Geelani pushes the strings or Master Nawaaz pulls off the curtains. They color themselves yellow when Modi flips the golden coins. They do anything which even they themselves cannot predict for them. However, leaving all their artistic capacities aside, in my understanding, the worst thing that happened to Kashmir would be the intense victimization of young Kashmiries. 

While young Kashmiries initially readily accepted all violent approaches to settle the issue of their land by joining various militant outfits, they also quickly understood the fact that they were actually destroying their own lives and their own resources with the guns and grenades that the lords of war were handing them over. So, their obsession about adopting violent means for achieving their goal ended up soon. However, unfortunately for them, their emotions and dignity continued getting hurt and the process constantly challenged their tolerance, frustrating them to react again and again. They were shown moons and stars but didn’t even have bulbs in their houses. The process of despondency continued mounting the element of agony in them. Now what replaced those guns and grenades were stones and bricks.  Here Kashmiries ignored the very basic fact that what guns and grenades couldn’t do for them is least expected to be done by stones and bricks. They even failed to understand the ‘sponsored’ aspect involved in such stone pelting campaigns and thus continued the phenomenon of exposing themselves to certain infectious powerful political aspirants equipped with the best skills of using innocent crowds for their own interests. What they received in reply was, once again, bullets, shells and pellets and this process continues killing hundreds and hundreds of young Kashmiries, most of them being innocent kids. 

Burhan Wani the recently killed Hizbul commander from south Kashmir represents the generation of highly agitated youth of Kashmir. They are the ones who have seen how everyone made scapegoats out of them in the name of religion, region or Azaadi or for that matter, development and prosperity. Now, as most of the Kashmiries are aware of the above mentioned facts, they have lost hope in most of these self claiming leaders. So, this time they seem to have taken the baton in their own hands and are ready to sacrifice anything and everything it takes them to settle the core conflict. And why not, they have all the rights to do so. They may be a leaderless lot, not knowing about the proper means they should be adopting to press for Kashmirs resolution, but their intention seems clear. They want Kashmir issue to be resolved once forever. Whether India agrees to it or not, Kashmir is a political dispute which even UN recognizes. UN has constantly pressed for Kashmir’s resolution taking due cognizance of the rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir. Arun Jately’s recent statement where he bursted in anger and called Kashmiri youth “aggressors” openly speaks about his helplessness as a politician who is more interested in wooing his votebank to the extent of smashing his own brains. Otherwise, I don’t think he can be such a dumb person who doesn’t even understand what Lt. Gen Hooda meant by saying “Army alone cannot bring normalcy to the state”. Perhaps Arun Ji is still lost in the world of old rusty vote-winning approaches which most of the Indians have rejected now. He is perhaps yet to learn a lesson from his defeat in the last elections. He definitely has to. Another shocking thing that followed in his statement was that “these youth will be dealt sternly” here he ignored the very basic fact that the thought behind using pellets and other stern means of dealing with the ongoing process of protests has failed drastically. While security forces adopted such means to frighten the protesters so that they get petrified and decide not to come outside their houses, surprisingly that’s not what happened on the ground. After seeing their children being brutally shot by bullets and pellets, Kashmiries couldn’t confine themselves to their houses. They hit the streets and roads to register their anger against security forces for using such lethal weapons. If earlier it was one person from a mohalla participating in the protests, it was now the whole of that mohalla protesting out on streets after seeing their boy being hit by a bullet or a pellet. When Kashmiries already have loads of reasons to unite, the biggest of which would be the Kashmir conflict itself, which they have lived together for decades, I wonder what makes us think that shooting anyone of them in any area wouldn’t bring the whole of that area out on the streets. They definitely will. This gives them another strong reason for coming together for a cause that they have been living together for almost half a century now. And in the current situation, we have more than 80 youth who have died, around 500 youth are left with their eyes damaged, over 10,000 youth have been wounded by bullets and pellets, people of Kashmir are bound to protest such a serious situation of brutality. And I am sure that the process will continue unless the security forces stop using such lethal weapons like the pellet guns. So, what ‘stern dealing’ is Mr Jately talking about? All of this crops up a few questions in my mind and might do so with others like me as well. The biggest of which would be, is the centre really interested in stopping the ongoing process of protests and stone pelting in Kashmir or its just interested in catalyzing it may be because the whole process is cooking something interesting for them? Otherwise why would it continue with its policy of handling the protests with brutality when they already know that it is simply not working and infact is turning out to be a ‘petrol on the fire’ situation for them. And how can you handle a group of agitated people you call your own in such an inhuman manner? Doesn’t it have the capacity of cropping up some important questions in every simple mind?
I therefore think that in order to bring Kashmir back on the track of peace, security forces have to, first of all, stop the use of lethal pellet guns. This should be followed by the process of negotiations and discussions at every level of Indian establishment, involving Pakistan and most importantly the basic stake holders of the conflict, the Kashmiries in these talks. Afterall you cannot close your eyes to a coming disaster or the ongoing one and think that it is not going to hit you. It is better to open your eyes as well as your brains on time to watch and feel the situation around you and look for the most reliable options of escaping it. Closing your eyes will only escalate it to an extent that you will lose every option of escaping it. Kashmir is a political issue so needs a political dialogue that involves all the stake holders equally and most importantly provides proper space to the aspirations of Kashmiri people, the real stake holders of the conflict.


(The views expressed in the above column are solely of the author Journospy do not carry any responsibility for them)

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