Thursday, 25 May 2017

Kashmir: Total Alienation

  • Kashmir's youth come out on street in support of militants and challenge Indian security forces with stone pelting etc, indicates their feeling that state is insensitive to their concerns.
  • Ministers and senior politicians had themselves abandoned the area.
  • Militancy is not the challenge but break down of law and order is, in which people get involved and put up resistance that will result in civilian causalities.
  • The recent Srinagar lok sabha by-poll witnessed less than 7% voter turnout, lowest ever recorded. During 2014 elections voters turnout was 65%. Low turnout and violence on polling day indicates people's disaffection with state and disconnect with politicians.
  • Militants are more connected with people and attracts  crowds to defend them.
  • In 2016 security forces trying to quell the protests resulted in killing of over 100 people and use of pellet guns injured over 1000 leaving many blind.
  • Use of brutal force by security personnel, with Delhi's sanction, is only complicating the matter. This only led to increased support of people to militants especially youth.
  • Situation had worsened so much that even girls are coming out and throwing stones at police and security personnel.
  • Young people pelt stones at police & security forces know that it will not bring a solution but it is only to express frustration and hitting back.
  • One of the narratives in Media and by BJP is that stone pelters are Pakistan paid agents.
  • Kashmiri youth, 70% of population under 30 years, in the absence of political leadership which way they will be going is matter of deep concern. The anger of youth, unless harnessed to higher goals, can take unpredictable turns if society fails to apply the needed salve, if political leaders cannot summon wisdom.
  • The violence and its impact on the minds of the youths over last two decades have contributed to a belief that nothing is going to change.
  • 90% of families are angry that over 63% of families are affected directly by violence.
  • Massive militarization and with impunity, armed forces indulge in killing civilians and human right abuses unabated. 
  • Centre declaring that stone throwers will be dealt with sternly only forces Kashmir youth to rebel and revolt.
  • Doctors say that suicides have grown 400% and 58.69% of youth have experienced trauma of facing gun fire and violence. The influence of religion increased significantly in past 20 years.
  • A feeling of living under siege in their homeland, economic deprivation and denial of participation in democratic process has led to dejection.
  • A fake encounter by Army personnel killing three youth allegedly to get rewards and promotions in 2010 triggered prolonged unrest that resulted in killing of 120 civilians.
  • The alarming thing is that youth are not listening to parents any more.
  • Who ever pelts the police with stones is a warrior and who ever gets killed by police is an martyr, in Kashmir today. This type of social sanction makes it amply clear how the situation has unfolded.
  • Blocking of social media has only proved counter productive.
  • Stone pelting during Nov 2016 was stopped not due to demonetization but due to acute winter. The connection between terrorism and fake currency was overly exaggerated.
  • The surgical strikes of Sept 2016 and subsequent media hype have resulted in escalation of border tensions and increase in civilian casualties.
  • What ever is happening in Kashmir is not law & order problem any more. It is result of continuous denial be New Delhi of political engagement. Mehbooba Mufti's continuous pleadings to reach out to Kashmir has no avail. The iron handed methods used there with no concern for people is getting stronger and at the end the human cost would be enormous.
  • Syama Prasad Mookerjee was vociferous in the cause of the integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of India terming the arrangement under Article 370 as Balkanisation of India. On Feb 4, 1953 Sheikh Abdullah reminded Syama Prasad Mookerjee "This arrangement (Article 370) has not been arrived at now but as early as 1949 when you happened to be part of Government". SP Mookerjee was minister in Nehru's cabinet between 1947-50 and later founded Bharatiya Jana Sangh in 1951. In a way, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, BJS/BJP are equally responsible as Congress for Article 370. Having made constitutional provision it must be honored in letter and spirit until revoked or amended.
  • Nearly 96% of population in Kashmir are Muslims. With Hindutva nationalism rising, Kashmir Muslims are frightened and their desire to remain with India is weakening. It is difficult to face growing fear in the minds of Kashmir people. One can't deal with imponderable sentiments. It is clear that we can't hold Kashmir valley with force of arms alone. If the people there don't want us to remain, we have no case left and we can't continue for long. This is RSS contribution to Kashmir issue.
  • Weak law and order situation in Kashmir in all likelihood will lead to war between India and Pakistan. That would be catastrophe for both the nations and in particular to people of Kashmir. 
  • Kashmir situation was never so bad in the past mainly due to squandering of opportunities to find solutions by Modi government. The resentment and anger against centre among the Kashmir youth is so rampant that even Kashmir girls are coming out in open and engaged in stone pelting. Driven by hopelessness youth are coming into streets and are prepared to die. Yet our Modi government doesn't realize that this is political problem and iron handed action is the only solution that will only worsen the situation.
  • At the time of independence, the autonomous kingdom Kashmir was neither interested in joining Pakistan nor India, despite persuasion by Lord Mountbatten to join India. Only invasion by Pakistan's tribal army compelled Kashmir's Raja Hari Singh to sign 'letter of accession' joining India and Indian Army saved remaining Kashmir. But people of Kashmir had apprehensions with India and Pakistan, both.
  • There is one way to move forward in Kashmir: Talk, talk and keep talking. But Modi & BJP committed to senseless nationalism are adamant not to initiate talks with Kashmir and militants playing into hands of Pakistan is now total.
  • Alienating 20% minorities completely, BJP will never get legitimacy to rule the nation, even if they win elections.

The earth belongs in usufruct to the living. 
The dead have neither powers nor rights over it ... Thomas Jefferson

My View:
Not withstanding past and history, today Kashmir is very much integral part of India without any questions. But whether people of Kashmir were treated fairly and their pari passu rights respected or not in India, is a million dollar question? Article 370 is largely in statutes but in reality it is doing no good to Kashmir people. It is neither honored and nor implemented in letter & spirit. The reality today is that due to suppression by authorities, people of Kashmir see militants as liberators from oppression and are ready to sacrifice their lives to save them. People are also fed up with status quo in which they are trapped for 70 years in general and last 30 years in particular. With no political activity Kashmir people are deprived of their rights & fruits of democracy and this situation can not last indefinitely. Kashmir valley with population of nearly 9 million of which 96% are Muslims, who are alienated totally, sees no future with only stern orders and reinforcements from Delhi are set up for protracted struggle. The mighty army at best can kill revolutionaries and insurgents but the causality will be Kashmir. In case of war with Pakistan, which seems likely, the Kashmir population might have no option except to support and shelter Pakistan and it will be 'from frying pan to fire' for Kashmir people. Unless Central Government rapidly restores process of democracy in letter and spirit quickly and engages people of Kashmir politically, we may very well end up losing Kashmir. With stubborn Modi at Delhi, people of Kashmir are destined for prolonged struggle, uncertainty and suffering.

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