By Syed Suhail Yaqoob
Children do hate. They show curiosity. They show jealousy. However, the magnitude of their jealousy is low as well as cute. Pamper them for few seconds; a smile will flash, a breeze of joy and happiness will ensue. A child is a like a flexible stick and it is up to the society what they want to make out of them. Children will grow on what parents and society will feed them. They absorb anything that comes in their way. Children are so curious that a new thing immediately attracts their attention. A mother is surely aware of this. When she moves out ,the child moves from one shoulder to another to see anything that appears to be new.
So were we during the Kashmir of 1990s.
Unfortunately we were born in the most fateful days of the time and in wrong place. Kashmir in 1990s was overwhelmed by bloodshed and confusion. There was neither a morning nor a sunset that had not seen the blood of young people spilling on the streets of this so called heaven on earth or the Switzerland of Asia. Thousands went down the graves; many thousands were maimed or disappeared from the face of earth. The valley that provides every sort of heavenly comfort was immersed in red.
Guns, bullets, mines and grenades ruled the day. As if it was not enough, crackdowns and curfews were clamped on the entire population to “flush out” armed militants. “Crackdown” has now entered into the vocabulary of Kashmiri language. It was a collective punishment where by people were forced to assemble on a particular place and a thorough check was done to eliminate every sort of visible and invisible threat. And in the follow up was an interrogation (often torture) where only bruised bodies of people came out.
In Kashmir valley everyone has a story.
The nights were ferocious. The howling of dogs immediately brought some sense of danger. A knock on the door was the most frightful. It meant some curse. What went was worse. People in Kashmir started to increase the height of compound walls, embedded glass shards on top of them, brought more locks. Human movement ended with sunset and during the nights Kashmir turned a ghost ether land. In those deadly nights some unknown people roamed the streets of Kashmir. It was life threatening to move out. Kashmir’s night life was over.
Children of Kashmir grew up in this kind of atmosphere and the result is before us. Today the same children who were born in around the nineties have grown up to become adults. They have become fearless and many politicians have noted it. Death, bullets and pellets don’t instill fear in them. The reason is not that they are brainwashed but they have grown in the atmosphere of conflict and chaos.
Chaos and bloodshed is what has made them not brainwashing. In fact if anything has brainwashed them it is conflict in Kashmir not a certain ideology. They have learned to hate, kill and maim. According to recent reports on demography, Kashmir is seeing a bulge in the youth population who are highly sensitive to what is happening around them, to them. Their close association with the information and technology, lack of employment opportunities and changing world order makes them even more sensitive to day-to-day happenings in Kashmir valley and the world at large.
Social media helped militants reach out to the people unmediated and become heroes, and this is what Kashmiri youth were searching for. A hero is created and his ideology gets infused into the minds of the youth. Today Burhan Muzafar Wani is a hero whether establishment will accept it or not. He did more damage to the establishment than any other militant of Kashmir valley. He is described as a smart fighter by some politicians. With his death Kashmir erupted in fierce protest with government responding with heavy hand. This was a gigantic mistake on the part of government who were showering pellets and bullets on the already fearless children of nineties.
This has made the youth more resistant. After the killing of Burhan, a new wave has set in Kashmir whereby civilian population comes to save the militants when encounter starts. This is all the fall out of the conflict over Kashmir which intensified at the beginning of the nineties.
The children born in 1990s have created a tricky situation for the State. On one hand they have grown fearless and the credibility of the state has ebbed further, and on the other hand the government has no other option but to use force. However, force backfired and whatever the credibility of government was left was washed away.
The youth today don’t consider Sheikh Abdullah as their hero as their elders did. Elders do remember the land reforms of Sheikh, but the youth see in him a traitor. Neither do youth recognise the PDP and BJP coalition. In fact in every politician who tilts towards India, a traitor is created and in every person who challenges the authority of India a hero is created for Kashmiri youth. This is how Kashmiri youth perceives the happenings of Kashmir. “In the times of tyranny and injustice when law oppresses the people, the outlaw takes his place in History”( Anonymous).
-The author is a Ph.D scholar in dept. of economics and can be reached at [email protected]