After the armed insurgency swept Kashmir almost three decades ago it has been widely acknowledged by politicians, bureaucrats, police and army officials — the commentariate in general — that counterinsurgency campaigns must be complimented by political mechanisms to resolve the conflict over Kashmir. But in its absence almost all State policy ultimately dovetails into the same campaign which sustains a vicious cycle of despair among the people in the middle of the grind of conflict.
The unwillingness of the State to agree discussing political mechanisms outside the coercive electoral democracy has brought the people to an overwhelming sense that practical resistance to the State’s intransigence may lead to the only way out. One of the manifestations of this has been on clear display for more than a year now: residents showing a clear willingness to put everything at state for the sake and survival of the armed militant, the now reutilized display a show of support for them every time they are engaged in firefights with government forces.
Many civilians have already been killed defending the armed militants even before the army chief’s warning in February that such acts by the people would be sternly dealt with. This clearly indicates that the situation inside Kashmir has only steadily been escalating in militaristic ways. The distance between how the armed militant and the common masses, particularly the youth, resist the prevailing political uncertainty has constantly been reducing. This situation makes it look like a war between the common people and the government forces.
During the summer uprising of 2016 even an Amy general on record said possible political approaches to resolving the conflict over Kashmir is the only way. Such voices, particularly from retired army generals who have served in Kashmir following the armed rebellion of 1989 have repeatedly said that government forces have already done what they could, that is control the population. But in absence of any willingness from the State for opening up to crafting acceptable political mechanisms to resolve the Kashmir issue for good the youth appear to have figured out for themselves that they would not accept being limited to exercising a choice only between the fear that decades of counterinsurgency operations have generated among them and their political self-respect.
There are all indications on the ground that the young of Kashmir are slowly but surely giving up that fear in favour of self-respect, even at the cost of their lives. If there ever was an unmistakable urgency for letting political approached evolve for resolving the dispute it is now. Not acknowledging this opportunity for establishing real peace would amount to callously push Kashmir over the brink.