By Akeel Rashid
The widespread student protests unfolding in Kashmir Valley seemingly have no end in sight and with the triggers and motivations for the same changing constantly; it is unclear as to what lies ahead in this regard. This academic year, the student protests originated in reaction to the civilian killings in South Kashmir, and now since the past few days, the same are being held against the killers of the Kathua rape murder victim. Since the commencement of class work in schools and colleges, this year, academic activities have remained largely affected in the Kashmir valley.
Before coming to the main idea of this very article, I would like to clear one important thing: I am not opposing or criticizing the reaction that the students are demonstrating towards the most deplorable act that was committed in the Kathua region of Jammu and Kashmir. Period.
Now, in terms of the administration’s response to the rampant and widespread student protests, being a student myself and having experienced the response of authorities towards the protests in educational institutions, I am a witness to the fact that there is a ‘complete lack of civil administration scrutinization(or interface)’ concerning the student protests; that is to say, during any of the particular protest demonstrations of students, the only visible face is that of forces, whereas the civil administration officials — from both sides, the administration and educational institutions — are always absent from the scene. This administrative absence goes unnoticed but the impacts are recognizable: the violent student-forces confrontations and closure of educational institutions.
Going to the psychology of these student protests or for that matter any of protests, one may conclude that the protesters have one intention, that is, they want to be heard. The hearing agents in case of student protests can be none other than the civil administrative officials itself, whereas the police, which is made to face the agitating students, is trained to enforce and not to take heed; this is the science behind why students get into the confrontation with the forces.
More to the point, why student protests have become so unmanageable is due to the lack of a communication channel between the students and the administration, and setting up a communication channel in absence of a student union is beyond the realm of possibility; but the present situation in the educational institutions, no matter how long it will prevail, demands that there should be a student body to fill this pervasive communication gap.
Political appeals won’t make a difference because those appeals will be, at best, designed to capitalize on the student protests and not to help them organize better, but ‘pure’ administrative intervention can surely change the things for better; however, the only administrative intervention one gets to see up to now are the government directives that order closure of schools. The students in Kashmir are not helplessly violent, but given the ‘narrow ambit of protestation’ available for the students in Kashmir, violence becomes inevitable.
It is also imperative upon the students that they should practice their‘ right to protest’ by keeping in view the fact that here in Kashmir protests are held and responded as a case of provocation. Holding a justifiable protest in an utterly unjustifiable way and context will serve no purpose.
—The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org