Kashmiri resistance to the forms of rule they have lived under has long spawned a dream of sovereignty, a ferment that has been constantly nurtured by generations. This resistance has invited eras of repression, which finally brought about the extreme degree of militarization of the land its residents are chafed under. But nothing has dissolved their dream of taking their destiny in their own hands.
Various stages of their struggle have always met with denial of their actual desire throughout. This denial took a different form after the formation of the two nation states of India and Pakistan came into being, springing a transformation of the resistance as well. From 1990 through the years between 2008 and 2010 the resistance has evolved from seeking rights to wresting them. The ongoing Kashmiri uprising marks yet another, but much more emphatic transformation of both the understanding of what the Kashmiri people find themselves pitted against and the quality of their resolve to overcome it.
The continued militaristic state response and the absolute absence of any real political engagement with the basic democratic demands of Kashmiri people is also beginning to engage the world’s attention differently this time. So far, it has looked like that the world is beginning to see what is at stake here is something very fundamental to the ideal of democracy; the question of asking the people what they desire and find a mechanism to determine that.
The summer of 2016 in that sense registers a shift from a struggle for being heard to one about evolving ways of taking control of the collective life and self-representation. It has also been about recognizing a long felt need for matching desire with hope. The present rural uprising in which every single village in the Kashmir valley, and even beyond, participated in an all-encompassing manner reveals that the agency of hoping is completely retained in the face of massive losses incurred on account of the hope itself.
The agency of hoping is unfortunately being met with a certain widening of coercive measures that is threatening to involve the entire South Asian region. International treaties are being brought into questionable review and water is fast turning into a weapon. Serious commentaries have pointed out already that the measures beyond the saturated militarism will now cut both ways. The refusal to exercise democratic means for delivering to the people of Kashmir what is as a principle deserved by them amounts to willfully endangering the future of those billion people as well in whose name this course is being contemplated. Certainly a wrong way to after the state’s arsenal of instrumentalities has been emptied out in the service of denial.