The core question is being ignored, repeatedly | The Background

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

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The core question is being ignored, repeatedly

Sajad Rasool  in Srinagar:   Adil Ahmed Dar was not a Pakistani or came from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. He was a local boy. Why are Kashmiris, many of them, highly qualified and are from well off family, continue to join militancy?

Following the attack on Indian security forces in Pulwama in which more than 40 CRPF men were killed, once again tension has gripped not only India and Pakistan but the people of Kashmir. They have again become a target in many parts of India. India terms this attack as the most gruesome attack over the last 30 years of armed conflict in the Kashmir valley. It took place at a time when India is preparing for its general election to be held within a few months. The ruling right-wing BJP is all set to take mileage out of this incident during the upcoming elections. Already, it has whipped up a jingoistic fervour throughout the country. The trumpet of war has been blown. Once again, this attack has sent a signal, rather subconsciously, to an average Indian that a big ‘enemy’ Islamic Republic of Pakistan doesn’t want a peaceful and prosperous India and ‘Hindu’ identity is in threat. There is also a feeling, which is being fanned out, is that no secular front in India can tackle this situation except the BJP. The ongoing TV debates about the attack and its Pakistan links are an example of this psyche being developed across India. 

The attacks on Kashmiri students studying in different colleges in India is a case in point. These attacks were not done in a vacuum; they have a political significance as well. It is being established that Kashmiris are anti-national and their existence in any part of India is a threat to national security, whether they support Azadi sentiment or not. It is an attack on identity, an attack on dissent, to say the least. Unless you win the hearts of the Kashmiris by starting an honest political dialogue, no amount of coerciveness can turn them into becoming an Indian- this is plain and simple.

Security personnel in Srinagar after the IAF sortie on Tuesday. Courtesy-IANS

The mainstream narrative which is being built up about Kashmir and its political crisis and the role of Pakistan is far from true. India claims that it is Pakistan which is creating trouble in its territory, helping ‘terrorists’ and sponsoring the sentiment of Azadi. Let us do a simple analysis of this theory:

  • According to MHA, during 2018 more than 324 people were killed in Kashmir during the crackdown on militants. The figures include 238 Kashmiri militants and 86 Indian forces personnel.  These figures reflect a pattern. As per the data available on the same website, in 2016, 150 militants were killed, in 2017 this number rose to 213 and in 2018 which is considered to be the deadliest year in decades this number has touched 238. The increasing numbers suggest that more and more youth are attracted to militancy.
  • The youth picking up weapons against the Indian state is militarily supported by Pakistan; it is worrisome that military grade explosive such as RDX, PETN and TNT are being used now. But they don’t get any formal military training and most of the time; their weapons include pistols, AK47 rifles which are snatched from police or other security forces. There are many instances where personal security guards of politicians helped militants to take away the weapons from their guard rooms. These are not ordinary youth joining militancy, these included highly educated young boys, professionals, and boys from good economic backgrounds.
  • Another fact should be debunked- stone pelters and militants are jobless youth. This is a theory distributed by most mainstream media that militants are misled youth who have no employment or are jobless. Prof Rafi from Kashmir University joined militancy and was killed two days after his joining, Dr. Manan Wani and his letter debunked the narrative that militants are just ordinary misled young men. Eisa Fazili an Engineer from a highly qualified and well off family from Srinagar raised and is raising hundreds of questions on the mainstream narrative.
  • There is a serious movement going on in Kashmir – the Kashmiris realize the fact that they are losing the cream of society to the ugly war. The boys who have become militant probably had no other choice to knock at the conscious of millions of Indians that it is not about development or employment it is about something else. The young generation of Kashmir is well aware of their history, this is the generation which grew or was born during the inception of militancy in the early ’90s.
  • The continuous intimidation of Kashmiri youth in their homes, on streets and elsewhere cannot be undermined. Instead of being spoon fed by the prime time TV debates, which harp upon taking revenge ad nauseam, the common people of the country should realize the truth by opening their hearts and minds-the sooner it happens the better.

The crisis in Kashmir is, in essence, political and the solution lies in solving it politically. It could only happen by initiating a dialogue with every stakeholder. But the successive governments in New Delhi, it seems, have turned deaf and dumb. The present BJP regime, in particular, has not made any attempt, whatsoever, to address the genuine problem of the people. The question of self determination has remained a distant dream for the Kashmiris. And now, as the general election, knocking at the door, they have taken the stage to reap the harvest on the aftermath of Pulwama attack.

Time, for a political solution in Kashmir, is simply running out.

Disclaimer- The view expressed in the article is the author’s own and not necessarily of The Background.

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