Denizens of this benighted land could be forgiven for failing to notice just how chaotic and strife-torn a time they are living in. After all, the utterly abnormal situation having become the norm, the usual, people can easily forget that the lack of normality needs to be underlined as often as possible. Consider the fact that Kashmir is now in yet another phase of renewed militant activity; hardly a week goes by when there aren’t reports of an encounter, with militant deaths being a regular feature. Protests, in the form of hartals, demonstrations or stone-pelting, are a daily feature, with restrictions, curfews, tear gas, lathi charges and arrests continuing to be the stock state response. And as Muslims are still denied the right to perform their religious obligations even on occasions like Muharram, there is the spectacle of top members of the current regime celebrating Dussehra, another religious event. Even as mourners are not allowed to take out processions, the RSS takes out armed parades in Jammu. And on top of it all, while people are often not even allowed to offer Friday prayers, comes once more a potentially explosive episode of the desecration of the Qura’n, as reported from the Jammu division.
This insane situation cannot be normalised; it leads to the kind of anger and frustration that results in violence. And it must be remembered that it is the people who point out how abnormal the situation is, who seek remedies for these anomalies, who are the real agents of peace. Those who seek to silence these voices, on whatever pretext, on the other hand, are the actual agents of strife, the enemies of peace. And that is because an abnormal state, a state of inequity and injustice, can never yield peace, and those that seek to enshrine that injustice only pave the way for violence.
A massive military apparatus allows the state to keep a lid on things, to tide things over, seemingly perpetually. But this has never been, nor will ever be, the means to any form of real peace. No amount of enforcement of abnormality can alter that.