By Imran Khan
From 2008 to 2011 Kashmiris changed their strategy from armed resistance to street protests and other non-violent means. But instead of providing them political space the state choked them further. This choking of political space and killing of youths in -non-violent protests gave rise to a new militancy. This militancy, many believe, is deadly.
Many pseudo analysts attribute the new development in Kashmir to unemployment, radicalisation, external interference, etc., but the fact remains that the unresolved Kashmir conflict is the biggest motivator for these armed youth to take up the gun. They want Kashmir conflict to end so that they can live a dignified life. Indian government and the state government in particular doing almost nothing to engage the pro-freedom politicians and look for a political solution of Kashmir, or at least win the hearts of people here (particularly youth). Instead, new and continuous provocations are only adding to the problem. The world too is equally criminal with regard to the plight of Kashmir. The silence of the world community on the sufferings of Kashmiris reflects their apathy and their failure to promote peace by facilitating conflict resolution. In such a scenario Kashmiri youth has realised that they can’t rely on the biased world opinion. It has made them believe that they have to take pragmatic steps on their own for the resolution of Kashmir.
Though the Indian government has claimed a commitment to resolve Kashmir conflict through dialogue, but Kashmiris have only seen aimless dialogue process since 1947. Such dialogues are seen as hypocritical, strategic and aimed only to buy time and prolong the dispute. And now in the absence of any serious dialogue process with Pakistan and Kashmiri pro-freedom leaders, the hope for a peaceful solution of Kashmir issue has faded. A section of youth in Kashmir, hopeless about the status quo, has turned towards armed struggle as an option to push India to the negotiating table. Therefore a paradigm shift from military control of Kashmir to political and peaceful solution of Kashmir is a necessity.
To bring Burhans of Kashmir back to their homes and not let the phenomenon become cyclic, there is a need of conflict resolution and empowering people, (particularly youth) by strengthening democratic institutions, providing political space, justice and equality and, most importantly, letting the people live with dignity and honour.
—The author is a government teacher and previously worked as a psychologist for Action Aid International and Medicins Sans Frontieres.