Arrest Spree: Wither the Battle of Ideas?

Arrest Spree:  Wither the Battle of Ideas?

The administration has gone on an arrest spree- especially in districts of South Kashmir.  Many youth have been arrested and if South Kashmir serves as a bellwether, it may well be that the saga of arrests would be replicated elsewhere.  The obvious reason(s) for the arrests are the Parliamentary by polls that are slated to be held next month. The administration appears to be taking what can be termed as “pre-emptive” measures to ensure smooth conduct of elections. The premise would be that arrest of youth suspected of certain leanings would lead to a context wherein elections can be smoothly held. But, the very fact of arrests cuts into basically two narratives trotted out by powers that be: one is the narrative of elections and votes as the aggregation of the will of the people; the other is the narrative espoused by the PDP soon after the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir- the so called “battle of Ideas”.  If the narrative of “  as a referendum that amounts to validation of the “political process” in Kashmir were to hold, then the state would not have to take recourse to the state apparatus to “weed” out those who could throw a spanner into the works of elections. Elections – especially in the Kashmir division of the state- would then be seamless. But this is not the case. The state intervenes to ensure smooth conduct of elections. Similarly, the arrest spree of youth undercuts the PDP’s pre and post election slogan of the “battle of Ideas”. If the so called battle were earnest then all shades of opinions and perspectives would be listened to and accorded primacy in deliberations, parleys and chalking out a course of action to resolve the imbroglio over Kashmir. But, this is not the case. What obtains in Kashmir is a slanted narrative wherein primacy is given to certain perspectives. In this scenario and milieu, the state is implicated in the process of elections. Thus, elections in Kashmir are unlike elections elsewhere. In this melee , youth or , in the least, some youth come into the cross hairs of the state and have to pay a price by way of imprisonment.  This not only makes them incur prison time but leaves a black mark over their lives and life trajectories.  This must stop- the sooner the better.