It is high time the government wore kids’ gloves over its iron hands and residents kept both hands firmly in their pockets as a fortnight of spiraling violence has left Kashmir blood-smeared
Rahul Dass | July 23, 2016
Burhan Wani was just like any other youngster who loved to spend time on the social media. But, there was a sinister, dark side to him. He joined the ranks of terrorists and became the Hizbul Mujahideen commander. He was killed on July 8, triggering violence that has savaged Kashmir for the past fortnight.
Six years of peace in the Valley has been shattered over the gun-toting 22-youth old Wani’s killing. It is a matter of deep concern that a terrorist had become a youth icon whose death radicalized the Valley and exposed a deep schism.
It clearly shows that the youth of Kashmir lacks icons, those whom it can look up to. There is IAS topper Shah Faesal. But that is just about it. Aren’t there more? There certainly are, but one really doesn’t know about the others. In any case Faesal perhaps should not have opted for the Jammu and Kashmir cadre in the first place and now sees himself in an uncomfortable situation of being compared with terrorist Wani.
Intense stone pelting and equally strong reaction from the security forces has brought back fear in Kashmir which had gradually begun to get used to normalcy. Tourists, and not terrorists, had begun flocking to see the wondrous and picturesque Valley, where families laughed and couples clicked photographs sitting on a shikara at the expansive Dal lake.
But, all that was a fortnight back. Today, Kashmir weeps for its 46 dead and worries about those over a hundred people, most youngsters, who suffered pellet injuries. Kashmir also frets over the peace that was lost in the days of mayhem.
Over the past few days, there has been considerable discussion on what went wrong and what triggered such intense violence. The bloodshed was the worst after the 2010 violence and the bloodletting in 2008. One thing is clear that the educated Kashmiri is seemingly tired and frustrated and using the brusque language of hurling stones to vent its fury.
What the stone-pelters forget is that the stones they direct against the security forces is actually hurting the Kashmiris more. The State won’t sit quiet and when harsh methods are required, it will not hesitate to use it. The security men used pellet guns and not bullets unlike in 2010. Yet the deaths have continued to take place. The pellet guns have blinded the young, leaving one wondering if the decision to use it was well-thought out.
One should not unnecessarily criticize the State, which perhaps is one of the easiest things to do. But, one also cannot ignore the fact that deaths did take place and youngsters did get injured. And not to forget the equally painful injuries to the CRPF troopers who were just doing their duty and following orders.
Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu’s wife Roohi Nazki’s Facebook post puts this in a certain perspective. "It is immoral, unethical, tragic and wrong. Whatever has been happening in Kashmir over the last 14 days is terribly wrong. The brutal killings of children, the criminal blinding and maiming of protesters and the shameless suffocating of an entire population is wrong. It is wrong even if it has been happening over the last two decades or so. It is wrong even if there are 'far too many agencies at work trying to keep Kashmir burning'. It is wrong no matter what excuse we are fed, day in and day out. It is wrong irrespective of who feeds us the excuses."
Got to agree with Nazki on this.
The government must take a serious re-look at its Kashmir strategy, particularly since Pakistan has attempted to muddy the waters. Was the Kashmir situation misread? Yes, probably it was as the unrelenting violence has showed.
So, what’s the lesson to be learnt. The government needs to re-strategise. It needs to be open to talks. It may not be happy about this, but it is best to hold discussions so that you get to hear what the other side has to say. Sometimes, giving a patient hearing to vitriolic can work wonders. Don’t react, just listen.
Also, hear out what the young are saying, instead of just engaging with the seasoned, wizened leaders.
The youth need to be invited for talks. They should be provided opportunities to grow. An effort should be made not to make them feel alienated. The young should be made to understand that the picture of India they have grown up with is not correct and there is more to the idea of India, a land which has always propounded peace and tried to apply balm on frayed nerves.
The government also needs to immediately do away the pellet guns. Is there an alternative? There are the chilli bombs, packed with Bhut Jolokias which are one of the world’s hottest chillis. There is no way any one can afford to stand when the extra, extra strong Bhut Jolokias are at work.
The local intelligence units need to be further strengthened. I am quite confident that somewhere among the intelligence files some officer must have jotted down the possibility of an unhappy undercurrent that may break out any time. It is best to listen to bright young sleuths on the field, rather than assess situation sitting far away. If need be, hire analysts who can do a swell job of reading between the lines.
The interlocutors need to be brought back and this time when the file their report, let everyone read it. Don’t hide. Bring in transparency.
And for the stone-pelters, there is just one anguished message. Please stop this, right now. You stones have done more harm than good. They have now badly hit the livelihoods of all those who are depended on tourism. And because you decided to take on the might of the State, some of you are either dead or crippled. Strong arm tactics only beget even more strong arm tactics. There is no question – you can never beat the State. So, just go back leading your normal lives.
But, do one important thing. Try to engage with the authorities, not through stones but through discussions. And for once avoid using the Hurriyat as a medium. May be the medium is the message. So, it is best to try and make a new beginning that is not a path littered with death and destruction.
Kashmir is a complex issue and most of the times it is a matter of optics. Both sides need to change their lenses so that they can see better and find out a way to resolve this issue that has crippled Kashmir.
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