On the Edge

On the Edge

Yet again , three militants have been killed by forces in Kashmir. This time around, the boys who have been killed apparently had joined militant ranks very recently. It suggests the forces’ ruthless zeal to liquidate militancy in Kashmir. No matter the nature of involvement and activity of militants, in the schemata of the state, ruthless elimination is the decisive calculus. One feature or theme that stands out from the ebb and flow of militancy in Kashmir is that it flows and accrues from the conflict in and over Kashmir. In 1989, when the conflict in Kashmir became militarized, the state’s response was a ruthless counterinsurgency approach. This approach coupled with the forces of attrition led to a drop in the intensity of militancy and militant activity, so much so that many assumed that militancy was in its death throes. After an interlude, however, militancy reared its head again, capturing the imagination of many young men again. This “new age militancy”, gathering from the post Burhan Wani killing of an outpouring of grief, anger and support for militants which can also be gleaned from the number of people who swamp encounter sites and the funeral of militants , has public support. To paraphrase Mao Tse Tung, who famously stated that “guerillas are like fish in water”, wherein water- without which fish cannot survive- is a metaphor for people and their support for militant activity, it may be inferred that structural conditions that obtain in Kashmir contemporarily, are fertile for the onset of broad based militancy. Amidst these conditions, overlaid by the fact that militant killings serve as inspiration for people , killing militants almost amounts to creating conditions for further militancy. Militancy and the vast support that the phenomenon carries amongst the people of Kashmir emanates , to repeat, from the conflict in and Kashmir. By employing the logic of fatal force, powers that be stand guilty of prolonging the conflict. The protracted conflict in and over Kashmir serves no one. Instead of an approach where lethal force is employed and where a numbers game becomes the bedrock of a counterinsurgency grid, prudence would lend itself to the suggestion that the real sources of the conflict be understood , grasped and conflict resolution be elevated over containment and the illogic of lethal force. Kashmir, South Asia and the world will be better for it. Approaches premised on force and containment will transform Kashmir from a condition of being on the edge to something more truculent.


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