Testing Times for Kashmir

Testing Times for Kashmir

By Syed Suhail Yaqoob

Kashmir is on the brink’, we are about to lose it’, it is highly disturbed place; these are the very sentences that we often find media and politicians resorting to. Although good for public consumption, particularly for Kashmiri people, who are engaged in a battle with India for their human rights, these very statements signal disturbing and chilling events. Recently, a parliamentarian, Mr. Rathore, claimed that army is given a “free hand” in Kashmir. The general of the Indian army, Mr. Rawat, was even more vocal about the “free hand” to Indian army stationed in valley. The Army needs to fight a “Dirty War” in Kashmir with much “Innovation”, he asserted. Some politicians hold Kashmir to be a war zone. It is easy to infer that with less than five hundred active militants in the valley, the politicians have made it clear that the fight is with Kashmiri unarmed civilians. And, if politicians claim it to be a “war zone” , something ungainly is on the cards. There is no doubt that Indian Politicians and media have put the Indian army in tight spot. The pressure they build on the army is enormous, coupled with the fact that Mr. Rawat was made the chief of army by side-lining two senior ones. He will be in great pressure to justify his position and has therefore joined the political bandwagon about Kashmir.
It is a tricky issue out here. Indian politicians have politicized Indian army heavily; they have put ball now in the army’s court. With no clear stand on how to solve Kashmiri crisis, politicians have found it easy to rope in the army to manage the crisis. The situation is such in Kashmir that even army, if it maintains “pressure” will see valley sliding away. The Army has been here for almost more than fifty years now and is perceived to be a “Colonising army”, as some commentators have warned. It is effectively considered to be one. These are everywhere, not an inch is left. On roads, outside shops, on buildings, inside orchards; they are omnipresent everywhere. This contact with the civilians is not proving to be better strategy. Civilians will view this “contact” as the tactic to control their movements and punish them. There is no doubt that civilians are getting very uneasy about the presence of huge Indian forces in and around Kashmir. Today, the situation is such that before Indian forces reach to kill militants, young boys and girls reach there even before to save them. Many boys were killed and injured during cordon and search operations. In latest saga, Abid Magrey of Shopian, was killed during search and cordon operations in Shopian.
The International media and opinion has moved terribly against India in Kashmir. 2016, will be remembered as a pellet fury which blinded many young boys and girls. The pictures were flashed all over the world; these only dinted the image of India as a democracy. Today, killing of civilians will do the same damage to its image. Justification of these killings will lead to more bloodshed on the streets. How media justified the “Human Shield” was the lowest ebb in Indian media ethics and morals. The country that believed in ‘non-violence” to counter violence now uses violence itself.
The rise of Hinduvata and choking of liberal voices will further dent India image. Indian policy formulators are on the wrong path; their actions are denting the image of this land throughout the world. They might believe that “economic and financial power” of India will allow them to get away with their actions in Kashmir. Today’s economic policy is seen as “Hindu economy policy” where by minorities are deprived of their basic rights. The Indian constitution allows Indian citizens to trade in any profession which is not detrimental to the security of the state. The recent happenings have put a question mark even on the constitutional rights which state tries to eliminate. The paid media is used by the state for its objectives. A human right violation outside Kashmir is flashed and debated even for weeks, while as the same violation here is justified as being okay. Media has become a “war” arm of the state. By manipulating the situation here in Kashmir, it has force fed hatred towards Kashmir and its people. A genuine aspiration of the people is being labeled as being religious or externally motivated. Kashmir is always seen through the prism of Pakistan or religious overtones which affects the Indian mentality to solve and provides the justification for every action of Indian forces in Kashmir.
Lately, the Hurriyat has understood the implications of using religious language in political discourse of Kashmir. Indian government will always allow us freely to use religious and Pakistani discourse which reap many good things for them. Firstly, they portray our genuine aspirations being externally determined and secondly they push the discourse towards a religious one. Indian policy makers are quite aware that religious discourse will not have much sympathy in the current global order. Kashmir has to be highly vigilant on the next course of action. Youth, college boys and girls, have come on roads, to demand their political aspirations. It is a testing time for separatists to create a holistic policy for future course of action.

—The author teaches at the Department of Economics Kashmir University. He can be reached at : [email protected]

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