Kashmir is too Complex to be Pigeonholed by Simplistic Narratives

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By Rayees Masroor

The signs are all there- a spurt in violence, the JRL uniting to call for protests and shutdowns, large number of civilians attending funerals of slain militants and protestors gathering to pelt stones at the government forces during gunfight. The valley is already going through a bloody spring amid deaths and destruction. Large numbers of militants, mostly local boys, have been killed by the government forces during the last two months. The most worrying part of the story is that the local youth have been frequently joining the militant ranks and even well qualified persons like Assistant professor, Dr.Mohd Rafi Bhat, who was killed in a gun battle recently, have shown inclination towards joining militant ranks and subsequently getting killed in encounters. This is something that has come as an utter shock to the security establishment here.
Militancy and the unrest in the valley have been portrayed as a net result of lack of opportunities and employment by the political establishments in the state as well as at New Delhi. The same fact was later flaunted by the Indian media, in particular, in order to craft a narrative around this assumption. However the latest trend suggests something very opposite to this. Many believe that there seems to be a mental unrest among the people especially the youth against the status quo and the absence of any political initiative to address the core issue.
The narrative that ‘children of poverty and desperation’ become militants or unemployment leads to militancy has been demolished by the death of Dr Mohd Rafi Bhat and the likes of Manan Wani. It is a demanding task to complete a research for doctorate degree and equally sweeter is the fruit of it for those who get an early chance to work in a prestigious university like that of Kashmir. But even all such guarantees couldn’t stop Dr Rafi from opting for the gun over the pen and even lose his life! One cannot and shouldn’t undermine these details while trying to understand a conflict and its nuances.
The loss of a scholar like Dr. Rafi is irreparable for any society, it only highlights the deep angst among the youth against the continuous absence of any serious effort to address the main issue and resolve the conflict. Many scholars are of the opinion that Kashmir has never witnessed peace in its true sense since 1945 and the people at the helm of affairs have continuously been misinterpreting the simmering discontent for peace. Since Burhan Wani’s killing , the issue has resurfaced in, even larger aggravated contours, but unfortunately Delhi has been in denial mode as has been the state government.
The popular sentiment on the ground is that there is nothing happening on the ground when it comes to the real issues faced by the people.
There is a serious need to go for some confidence building measures and initiate political processes in order to end the imbroglio and let people of this godforsaken state breathe in peace. The appointment of an interlocutor by the government of India and simultaneously launching an operation like ‘All Out’ hints at the paradoxical approach adopted by the government. Bullets and dialogue will never go together. Also, the resistance camp has to undergo an in-depth self analysis and review.
Let’s hope that good sense prevails and all parties to this long drawn conflict have some courtesy for the human lives that are lost, for the blood that is spilled everyday and for the tears of the mothers which are shed every instance. Let’s hope that peace prevails!

—The author is a scholar and columnist and can be reached at: Rayeesmasroor111@gmail.com