The Children of Conflict

The Children of Conflict

By Zahid Mushtaq
In the contemporary world, human resources assume greater importance than economic and natural resources. A developed and skilled human resource changes the very fortune of a nation. The responsibility to secure and develop a skilled lot depends upon the state’s endeavor. The quality of education and states investment in the human resource development must be sound and cater to the contemporary demands. It is a prerequisite to have a well drafted plan for future personality development. A skilled youth and educated class will guide the nation tomorrow. But unfortunately, in Kashmir, children have been deprived of all this. They are more entangled in the conflict than to their education. The blame largely lies on the state. The political climate and uncertainty have affected their personality. The political socialization over the years has created a fear psychosis and uncertainty in their mind. The children of today will be the adults of tomorrow, today’s leaders and activists. Their quality and personality will determine the kind of destiny that beckons the nation. The children and youth of a nation are its powerhouses with boundless stores of energy, with capability, zeal and enthusiasm.
The combination of oral histories with a historical and political analysis of Kashmir reveals, without a doubt, that the children of the valley in general and of the conflict zones, in particular, have suffered tremendously. Kashmiri children who witness torture, detentions and trauma every forces has put the next generation of Kashmir at stake. While the children in the other parts of the world enjoy the privilege of being children, the children of Kashmir have been robbed of their childhood.
As the circumstances require, the trees and flowers of a garden have to be trimmed in order to make it look beautiful and appealing. Otherwise, the plants and bushes will go haywire and spoil the beauty of the garden and will not reap proper blossoms, but contrary to the said maxim, the situation past the 2016 uprising and before reveals an altogether a different picture of the children of the conflict in Kashmir.  General Hooda Opines” it is too simplistic to label everyone as paid agents. Initiatives for the Youth of Kashmir have been half-hearted and ineffective leading to radicalization and rebel recruitment.” The condition of the children of Kashmir reflects the tragic fate of the children who were otherwise supposed to bloom. The everyday traumatic effects have had a profound and long-lasting impact on the emotional, cognitive, behavioural and psychological functioning of the children. These children find themselves through no fault of their own lacking the opportunity to learn and develop the necessary skills to become fully functional members of the society. This lost generation of our time is the tragedy of our time. For these children, in the future, the possibility of finding gainful employment in the future becomes increasingly challenging.
The children of Kashmir in particular and the conflict zones, in general, are lacking necessary social and mental skills that facilitate growth. To narrate a practical experience, every time my nephew, merely eight years old, sees a man in uniform with a gun, stares back and starts asking the reasons as to ‘Why  do they murder the Rebels and the Commoners in Kashmir.” Such deep impressions have had the conflict on the minds of the kids, let aside the elders. To add to the trouble in the ongoing video war, to me, the most defining clip was a 5-year-old boy, walking around a group of security forces on a street in Srinagar. He strikes, glares and shouts at the security personnel and then attempts to kick a soldier three or four times. This was like staring at the “Future of Kashmir”. The “Toy Gun” is the favorite toy of the children in the valley and the sole reason for the unconditional love for such toys is the hatred that  has been inculcated deep into their minds and which now seems too difficult or one may say impossible to replace. This has to lead to the radicalization and the results are on the ground: young Boys picking up arms against the state. Gordon Brown, The former British Prime Minister in this regard says, “Children living in conflict zones are more likely to become the youngest soldiers in a trench.” In the minds of our children the song of freeing their land always keeps playing.
These children who are facing the brunt of this conflict have lost their childhood, their innocence, their hope and they will continue to be victimized until the peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue is not arrived at. To take the younger generation out from the wrath of this deadly conflict, there is a prime need to look seriously into this burning issue as early as possible-the sooner the better.

—The author is a student of English Literature, Department of English, Aligarh Muslim University. He can be reached at szahid023@gmail.com

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