That no one was surprised at how the situation in Kashmir turned this summer of 2016 logically moves one to ask why no one was surprised, as it turned out? The 2008 uprising was a bit of a surprise for some in that it marked that mass protests almost totally replacing the earlier armed rebellion against Indian rule. Again, the months-long mass upsurge in 2010 clearly highlighted that the people of Kashmir have not bowed out in the face of a military domination. Then, in the background always is the seven decades long story of political deceit and misrepresentation enacted by as well as through the pro-India political groups who are projected as the people’s representatives.
The element of surprise in how Kashmir reacts to increasing repression and powerlessness has consistently been evaporating. Just like the fear a brutal military campaign had managed to instill in the Kashmiri. This absence of surprise, and fear, at the way Kashmiri people rise up again and again points to an increasing understanding, both inside Kashmir as well as in the outside world, of the Indian state’s refusal to deploy democracy where it is needed the most – that is for the determination of the Kashmiri political will. The history of this Indian refusal to democratically engage with the question or dispute of Kashmir is beginning to empty out New Delhi’s arsenal of propagandist misrepresentation, and by that the pro-India Kashmiri groups too have now only the tricolor to hide behind, or at the most Baluchistan.
The uprising this summer is different from all the earlier ones, both in its spread, and resolve to dismantle the status quo. It is again meeting only the same deadly state force Kashmiri people are so tragically familiar with and that only knows to kill, maim and repress. And there are no indications, if New Delhi is read in isolation, that it is prepared for real politics or any political ideas are unraveling. But change has already become measurable inside Kashmir. Between 1990 and 2016, and between military repression and questionable periodic elections, the people’s will to win a moment for freely choosing their political future has not diminished, the contrary is true. That is what is on display across the length and breadth of Kashmir, and that is what exposes the pro-India political groups in Kashmir and renders them as powerless as never before. The best New Delhi has done is that the middle space in which all deception is deployed has been taken away from ‘elected representative’. That makes the battle between the Kashmiri people and the Indian state as clear as it can get. May be those who fight elections in order to ‘represent’ Kashmiri people should take note.