By Mir Liyaqat Nazir
They are young, unambiguous and have seen only bloodshed unfolding in Kashmir since the armed rebellion against Indian rule started in the early 1990’s. Brought up in an extreme militarization, they are maverick, fearless; tech savvy, listening hip hops, wearing jeans but politically rational. Most of them are barely out of teens, irrespective of gender protesting in school uniforms with slinging backpacks, armed with smart phones, faces and heads covered, carrying stones in their hands defying every restrictions is a new evolving face of student resistance in Kashmir. Burying all the theories of paid stone-pelters reportage and rhetoric’s by the Indian media, this agitation is redefining new political discourse in the valley. If this student agitation is not taken seriously, it may burn the last remaining bridges between Srinagar and New Delhi. However this student uprising gives rise to some of the pertinent questions that need to be debated and discussed. Why all of a sudden these young students are on the roads and who are spearheading these protests are subject to debate? Why the sacred line of ‘battle of ideas theory’ promised in the agenda of alliance remained sacred only on the paper and not on the ground? Is it the new developments like the Hinduisation of India after the saffron forces came into power having any bearing on Kashmir? Where now on these student protests are heading and how it will impact the mainstream political discourse as well as to the resistance movement?
In the political history of Kashmir, there have been various famous public uprisings which did not succeed completely but have battled and resisted against the tyrant regimes with a sense of pride and conviction. From the Shawl-baf agitation in 1865 to the 2017 student agitation, these did not happen in isolation. Nothing happens in isolation; there is always a pattern or process , both historical as well as political that define all these public uprisings in Kashmir. Looking from within, this current student uprising is preceded by many significant developments like the death of popular Hizb Commander Burhan Wani, the continued hard-line stance of New Delhi in resolving the long standing issue and then the series of videos circulated on the social media including the human shield one showing the gory unabated human rights abuse by the security forces is turning out to be the fuel in the engine of people’s resistance. There was already a volcano of resistance simmering after pellets and bullets blinded, killed and maimed hundreds of innocent people including children in the previous agitation. It needed a trigger point again and the incident of Pulwama Degree College proved that when the security forces raided the campus sparked massive protests in which more than 50 students were injured.
John F. Kennedy once said that “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable”. Exactly the same, authorities in Kashmir are unlawfully and unethically choking the political space to the pro-freedom leadership and hoping by this they might change the political discourse. History is witness that any excessive use of force to curb the popular sentiment has proven counterproductive; in fact, it leads to further alienation and anger. The students on the campuses or on the roads preserve a right to dissent but every time their peaceful political actives are curbed by unleashing the brute force. When the late CM Mufti Sayeed stitched the agenda of alliance with the BJP, he floated a theory of “Battle of Ideas” aimed to give space to the popular sentiment but the promise became another broken promise. The way nocturnal raids, harassment and the arrest spree of youth across Kashmir continues in the name of law and order is pushing the entire young generation to the point where from there is no return. By snapping internet, shutting down the mobile services, declaring indefinite curfews and then calling it necessary for peace is shame as well as a blot on the face of so called biggest democracy. Since July 2016, the internet has been shut down 29 times and the mobile service also remain off for many times because the authorities and Indian media attribute stone pelting and student protests spread by the social media
On the other hand, New Delhi continues to live in self denial; whatever happens in Kashmir is a cross border sponsored for them just to delegitimize the popular sentiment. The BJP including their henchmen in Srinagar have undertaken such tyrannical polices that are solely responsible for pushing young and educated youth to take an extreme form of agitation. The south Kashmir once the strong bastion of ruling PDP is literally today under siege, here the space for mainstream parties has shrunk to that extent that they can’t even visit or meet the people in a broad day light.
The obstinate mindset of the security experts sitting in the TV studios of New Delhi who look at Kashmir always through the security prism and ignore the grim reality that why even in 2017 it continues to simmer. The way ultra nationalist Indian media has waged a war against the defenseless people of Kashmir by spreading lies and misrepresentation through their selective coverage is adding fuel to the burning. For them Kashmir is just like a Bollywood action movie, which they keep playing in the prime time shows to remain relevant in the rat race of TRP. If the new dispensation in New Delhi thinks by sheer use of force they will keep the suffocating status quo of the valley. Then, they are living in fool’s paradise because the third generation on the roads will never accept any humiliating status quo over Kashmir. Their current rage and resistance is spontaneous, unprecedented and historic whatever the Indian polity and extremist media name it.
One more reason that has a direct bearing on Kashmir are the series of incidents of lynching and killing in the name of cow vigilantism, love jihad, Ghar wapsi of poor Indian Muslims has destroyed the pro-mainstream narrative and their politics in Kashmir. First time since the resistance movement started in Kashmir, the mainstream parties across Kashmir are looking for space and relevance among the people.
The protesting students on the roads are the third generation of conflict and were raised in an extreme spell of violence. For them, resistance has become a way of life and if their protests are not taken seriously by the people in power then another generation is on the verge of taking up arms. The Indian home minsters says that within a year there will be a change in Kashmir but on the ground there is no let up in the disproportionate use of brute force against the student protestors specified his statement both contradiction as well as warning?
—The author is a research scholar and an independent blogger. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org