The Kashmir Times editor bats for non-violence, though says that armed struggle was not born in vacuum; terms deepened desperation as catalyst behind young boys and girls fighting government forces
Srinagar: Social activist and executive editor Kashmir Times, Anuradha Bhasin, on Saturday said that ‘violent modes of resistance’ were a ‘trap’ and would never create a better society. “I don’t believe in violent modes of resistance because it will never create a better society. No one approves use of gun at times of Islamphobia and it is basically a trap,” Bhasin said while delivering the 2017 Pandit Rughonath Vaishanavi Lecture, organised by Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) at Hotel Comrade in Srinagar. In response to a question, Bhasin said that though the gun has played its role in resistance, she would still advocate non-violent ways of resistance despite its limitations. However, Bhasin said that armed commander Burhan Wani’s death in 2016 provided the tipping point that many had been dreading in the last decade. Bhasin said that 2016 was an open rebellion that reflected not just pent up anger but also the desperation of the situation. Bhasin said, “Ever since, the situation of desperation has only deepened with young boys, sometimes also girls, ready to fight the mighty and powerfully equipped forces of the state, which are too brutal, with bare hands, or stone.” There is no dearth of passion driving youth towards militancy. But there is dearth of funding and availability of arms. And this increases their vulnerability. They know they are no match for the powerful state and but still ready to die too easily. This anger and rebellion carries with it residue of recent years of abuse, torture and humiliation.” Bhasin was speaking on “Many shades of Kashmir resistance: Reflections on emerging trends in the political theatre and the agency of peoples’ struggles”. “Burhan, both as the militant and as defiance against the oppression, was a hero for the youth,” she said. Bhasin said that armed struggle was not born in vacuum, but was a reaction to years of ‘electoral fraud and unfulfilled promises or erosion of autonomy’. She said that the Indian state has obliterated spaces for peaceful resistance, which has been targeted in various ways and ruthlessly crushed. “There are cases where peaceful marches have also been met with brutal military action. Security personnel and police are accused of gunning down passersby, shooting at ambulances, entering people’s homes and killing or injuring them. If people come out on roads with stones or decide to pick up arms, they are inspired by their own oppression, political aspirations, history of an unsettled dispute and anger against increasing brutality and the frustration caused by the helpless and choked atmosphere they find themselves in,” she said. She said that choking a place with a huge population and killing people was not going to wish away the crisis, “much less solve a problem”. She said instead, it will only inspire a backlash, angry outbursts and promote more violence and chaos that will eventually have a spill-over effect. She also said that the element of religion, which is used dominantly in resistance, has been part of the Kashmir dispute since decades. “Though not totally driven or caused by religion, shades of religion have been part of the dispute since decades. Religion, whether it is a conscious attempt by some or simply a means to generate more steam, has been used by armed insurgents. Slogans and use of mosques are an example. It is the same method adopted during the India’s struggles by the congress,” she said. Basin questioned the theories that youth throwing stones are “miscreants” instigated by “Pakistan” and “militants”. Who would be prepared to get killed for 500 rupees or even more, she asked. “Whose agent is Insha Malik or Reyaz, the ATM guard, or the five-year-old child who have been blinded by Pellets?” Insha was blinded by pellets last year. Reyaz, an ATM guard, was killed by pellets fired by government forces.