Despair, Deceit, Desperation- Kashmir 1.0

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Ceaselessly during the past couple of weeks, all leading dailies and social media trumpeted the following headlines- ‘Kashmir on the boil’; ‘Not Again’; ‘Kashmir- A Beautiful Catacomb’; ‘Toll increases to 7,12,38,45…’ and so on. The environs of ‘heaven on earth’, that were once envied for its novelty, are now bloodied and stripped, as a full blown battle is in suit between stone-pelters and gun wielders. 

In the wake of killing of Hizbul Mujahideen, leader Burhan Wani, youth of the valley have taken to the streets to defy any iota of orderliness. Social life is the worst hit with curfews in force, extensive militarization in vulnerable areas of the valley, electricity and television connections snapped, amaranth yatra pilgrims in a limbo, newspapers seized, schools shut, livelihood eked, weddings postponed, press choked, and hospitals lit up as if for a celebration. 

Many say it’s just the matter of time when such insurgency will thaw and these home grown militants will retreat in their cornered holes of ‘normalcy’. But what we fail to grasp is that the issue was never about who being the mightiest, CRPF or the dissidents! The issue is about how long will it take for us to mediate the situation that has plagued Kashmir for over 60 years now? How long will it take for us to realize our loss, when we pin one Indian against the other? Seriously, how long is long enough?

In the past week, Kerala and Kashmir, the two geographically distanced states in India were in news for unfortunate reasons. Some 20 odd youth are missing from the southern state and it is feared that they have joined the terrorist group- ISIS in Iraq or Syria. One of the ‘missing’ messaged his parents, that they should not to worry as he had reached ‘Jannat‘. If a well off and literate state like Kerala can succumb to such hostile radicalism, then the ghost of such terror is not far behind in Kashmir.

Demographic dividend of the valley has seen their parents, and the parents of their parents fall victim to the labyrinth of security personnel, home grown militant organizations, and a fragile diplomacy (BJP-PDP). These youth will undoubtedly find solace in such organizations that (however false may be) promise them a better life. The life they are attracted towards is in complete contrast to the veil of submission they live under.

If we have made it clear that Kashmir is an inevitable part of India, then centre will have to start cracking and undertake certain steps. It is imperative on the part of the government to restore the faith of Kashmiris in the constitution, because pellet guns from one side and stones from the other is quite an unusual way of suggesting that, ‘You are a part of us’. Use of force negates the essence of peace and calmness. And hence, Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) should be primarily amended. Army and the simmering youth should be urged to exercise restraint. A new comprehensive policy must be crafted after having open-ended discussion with all the stakeholders, political and otherwise. An alternative to ‘not so harmful’ pellet guns must be devised. Educational institutions and other avenues of employment must be opened here as unemployment is one of the primary reasons behind the delinquent behaviour displayed by the youth. If you can’t attract them, distract them. It is about time that past policies are forsworn, and a ‘people-friendly’ agenda is adopted. Isn’t that what democracy is all about?

Effectiveness of the solution lies in its extent of neutrality. How well we manage the balancing act is well, the act itself. Moreover, the authorities must never force a ‘well conceived’ perception of ‘change’ on people. Let the people of valley be the change. Then only the term ‘second largest democracy’ would deem fit. We must ensure, once and for all, that life will never be made the war of the living.

About The Author

Sakshi Awasthy

Sakshi Awasthy (MCM DAV 36)

A social recluse. Soldier of fiction. Soliloquist. Either silent or sarcastic. Possesses no interesting version of ESP, but likes to think she has the same glasses as Harry Hart. 

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