By Yasir Altaf Zargar
The 2016 uprising in Kashmir or the Kashmiri intifada was unprecedented in many senses. It gave a new impetus to the long-standing Kashmir dispute. This uprising was catalyzed when a famous student turned rebel, Burhan Wani was killed in south Kashmir on the third day of Eid-Ul-Fitr. Wani had inspired many young and educated youth of Kashmir to turn to militant ranks, and earned fame across Kashmir. The mass involvement of the people initially from rural areas fed the uprising. People were essentially out on the streets on their own to defy Indian rule over Kashmir. Many factors like human rights violations in Kashmir provided grist to the mill to the uprising.
However, the media in India gave a totally different spin on the 2016 uprising. It vigorously attempted to denigrate the Kashmiri sentiment and movement. The media in India, during the unrest, used inflammatory headlines: the spin was in the nature of attributing the uprising to Kashmir based pro-Pakistani supporters and hence the reason why bullets and pellets were showered on them. Such headlines had the opposite effect on people in Kashmir by aggravating people.
While the uprising was deep and wide, it does not seem to have changed anything in the mainstream politics except for faces. First , it was Omar Abdullah of the National Conference and now it is Mehbooba Mufti of People’s Democratic Party. People of Kashmir historically and even contemporarily have not had sanguinary experiences with mainstream political parties when they come to power. But when these parties are out of power they take recourse to the politics of “pragmatism”. This is reflected in Farooq Abdullah recent paradigm shift g(antagonism) in his statements. Farooq Abdullah’s claims usually give goose bumps to people. People take his statements as a joke and in the nature of flip flops. Usually, he takes the Indian side when it comes to Kashmir struggle. So given his flips and flops, his recent statement where he said that the National conference would support Hurriyat in the freedom struggle was just another way of earning ground support in Kashmir.It is , in a nutshell, an attempt to gain lost credibility in Kashmir.
This is a theme in Kashmir. Any party which comes to power conveniently forgets its campaign promises.. For instance, PDP campaigned against the BJP and in their election manifesto they clearly claimed to root for self-rule- an idea which totally against India but the moment they smelled power they had cobbled a coalition with BJP. This was not the end. The PDP in alliance with the BJP employed brutal oppression in Kashmir. The metaphor for this could be Mehbooba’s inflammatory statements that she employed with respect to youth that were killed in the 2016 uprising. Mehbooba, if it may be recalled essentially said and implied that those who were killed were not innocents but illiterates from the proletariat class, who were pelting stones, and it was because of this that the state responded.. These statements were not taken kindly by the people of Kashmir. The use of pellet guns on peaceful protestors and the terrible wounds made by the shrapnels of pellets found in the eyes and faces of those girls and boys who lost their eyesight forever gives a sense of inhumanity. Kashmir has and continues to bleed.
Essentially, the people of Kashmir have had been spurned and this is the major reason why we been bleeding. The saga begins with the day when the Maharaja signed the instrument of Accession with India ignoring what the majority aspired for . Nothing seems to have changed since then and the watershed years of late 1980’s. But there is a dichotomy. In the 90’s, people readily used guns but today they rely on stones to retaliate.
The result has been that thousands have had been killed, injured, hundreds are languishing inside jails and their parents are not aware of their whereabouts.
Kashmir’s history has been nothing short of the tumultuous.
This history reminds us of those promises which political parties usually make during election rallies — Sadak, Pani and Bijli, and nowadays provision of employment to the youth. People usually go with the ripple of those waves and vote in large for that party which comes with a substantive electoral manifesto. During these election campaigns, the hollow promises are delivered during the rallies. However, it all ends when one or the other party wins. Thereafter, people are left to endure their pain which they do with stoicism.
People of Kashmir have, over the years , become impassive. While they stolidly over suffering but when oppression crosses limits, they take recourse to the idiom of protest. Sporadically and periodically, Kashmir witnesses upheavals The years, 2008, 2010 and 2016 are cases in point- all a blot on Indian democracy. All these years’ people were ardently getting vigilant, aware of the freedom struggle.
Amid all this, there is another distressing reality: there always has been exploitation of proletariat class by both sides which makes a dent in the freedom movement. Neither mainstream nor the separatists seem to be in hurry in solving Kashmir dispute. No freedom has yet been achieved by any nation by a long shutdown. It can be considered as compulsory part of struggle which could be used to bring world attention to our sufferings.
In Kashmir people usually go with the tide of mythology, sometimes they blatantly follow canards which mainstream parties use to make bifurcation among those who are supporting freedom struggle led by Hurriyat. That’s why we have many streams of Hurriyat (A, B, C, D ). It needs to be noted that there are many people among separatists who are struggling for fame than focusing on the struggle. They usually rebut each other just to get published into the headlines of newspapers. I hope that my assertions could be wrong and that my allegations could be baseless. But the the reality is always unpalatable.
—Yasir Altaf Zargar is a Srinagar-based web security analyst. He has been acknowledged and rewarded for contributing to the web security of Google, Yahoo, Hackerone, Microsoft, Nokia, Salesforce and Oracle. He tweets as @zargaryasir and can be reached at [email protected]