The volatile situation of Kashmir, which has only worsened in the past few years, has left the youth, voiceless and in a bewildered state of mind. With a weekly routine of protests, and daily arrests, the vision of a peaceful environment in the Valley seems to be drifting further and further away. The Public Safety Act (PSA), which provides for arresting and jailing a person without trial for two years on mere suspicion that he/she may disrupt law and order in the state, prevalent in Kashmir, gives the State an overwhelming authoritative power over the people and has thus, become the leading element in creating a panic-stricken atmosphere in Kashmir. Estimates of the number of people detained under the PSA over the past two decades range from 8,000-20,000. An era of stone pelting that started around the fall of 2013, named Tehreek-e-Sangbaaz (movement of stone pelters) has witnessed a large number of Kashmiri youth taking part in these violent protests. Every Friday after the afternoon prayers, there is a protest in Downtown (Srinagar) which is carried out through stone pelting, massive sloganeering, and flag hoisting, where the J&K police are seen using forces like tear gas shells, pellet guns and pepper gas to respond. There have been 10 deaths and 1,500 pellet related cases of injuries since 2010.
However, hidden under layers of this unrest are several factors which are seldom paid attention to, and in fact turn out to be an integral part of Kashmir’s position as a platform for its people. Suppressed are the dreams, aspirations and spirit of the youth. According to a report, 45% of Kashmir’s adult population shows symptoms of anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder.
The lack of opportunities, which renders hundreds of skilled and educated people unemployed, makes them enter a frustrated state of mind and henceforth, they join hands with the protesting communities. Corruption, in Jammu and Kashmir, exists in monumental proportions and is hence responsible for this position of the state. Having a nearly non-existent private sector, advertisements for government jobs are still published but the acceptance rate is extremely low, as those having a reference from a minister end up bagging the jobs. There is a need to have well laid out policies and scholarship schemes for the qualified youth through which they can at least have an opportunity to build a successful career in professional fields and not end up exhausting their potential in this restrictive environment. What must be understood by the government is that the current generation is highly different from the 90’s protestors, and that there’s a complete sea change in the environment and a hope for growth does exist within them.
Another major problem is the misfiring PSA which bypasses all human rights safeguards and eventually ends up ruining a person’s career and life. Evidence gathered from various reports points to the brutality used by the police and how the young boys are arrested, put behind bars and tortured without any trial leaving behind a trail in their criminal records. More dangerous than the misfiring PSA is the misconception, about the forces behind these mishaps, among the people. The Indian Government is continually blamed, unbeknown to the general folk that the J&K police force comes under the State Government and any actions taken by them are as directed by the State Government itself. The Central Government however constantly makes efforts to provide for the worsening situation and has provided many schemes to make sure that there are atleast some opportunities to help educate the youth of Kashmir. Another misconception which lies among the Kashmiri folk is that the Indian Army is the one which is hampering peace in the state. However, quite the opposite, the Indian Army has been playing an integral role in protecting and supporting the people of J&K throughout. Some of their heroic tasks include rescue missions during floods, sharing their rations with the public when required and running schools for Kashmiri kids. This shows that if the outdated judgments from the government about the current J&K generation haven’t stopped, neither have the misconceptions of the people about the Army disappeared.
According to the conclusion from the paper ‘My Kashmir’ by Lt. General Prem Nath Hoon PVSM, AVSM, SM, Article 370 and Article 35A should be removed in order to provide better governance to Kashmir and to add to the job opportunities. Secondly, a nation-wide movement is a must to make sure that the issue of unrest is resolved as soon as possible. The basic problems are to be solved parallel so that there’s minimum effect on the development rate. Lastly, only that level of autonomy should be given to Jammu and Kashmir just like all other states of the country.
About the Author:
17 Years Old. Currently pursuing BA Honours in the Economics Department, PU. A Movie buff, a Beatles/Nirvana fan, love to play the guitar and write songs.