EDITORIAL

Beyond votes

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By showing repeated lack of will to deal with Kashmir, both in its domestic as well as international contexts, the BJP-led Central government in New Delhi has done no good – neither to Kashmir nor to itself. And together with its over-reliance on containing the public dissent and resentment here through military means, BJP has only ended up pushing new generations here to the wall like it was done in 1989 and the youth had no option but to take up arms. This loud assertion is resonating with increasing resonance in the current discourse vis-a-vis Kashmir even in the mainstream media debates and discussions. And mind it there is merit in it particularly given the fact that part of it seems to be informed by the Kashmir’s recent history. By resorting to suppressive measures, which the state might argue are not after all as tyrannical, but the recipient population nevertheless views them as being authoritarian. So fact of the matter is that the Kashmiri youth have again been pushed to the brink, with the general belief both within and outside Kashmir, being that the space for genuine political dissent has been shrunk considerably.

Politics aside, mainstream political groupings both within the state and at the national level need to understand that thousands of people who have been killed here in past nearly three decades didn’t die because they chose to. They were killed fighting the state which they felt is not comfortable with letting people here to express their anger and frustrations against it. In fact the recurrent police-public confrontations and civilian killings that happen in these regularly are a case to prove this point. When peaceful and comparatively less violent protests in Kashmir were greeted with bullets and pallets by the state which is far less violent and way too restrained in dealing with the highly violent rampaging mobs elsewhere in the country (like calling violent mobs at Sabrimala “devotees”) – it is very unlikely to go unnoticed, certainly not in terms of its impact on the popular psyche in Kashmir! Political subjectivities discounted, the difference in how state chooses to deal with the two sets of people is there for everyone to see.

Add to it the insults so-called mainstream political establishment and intelligentsia is slamming on the Kashmiri psyche whenever they choose to discuss and debate Kashmir. Deliberately refusing to look at Kashmir beyond the issues of ‘law and order’ problem, they so conveniently prefer to politicize even the deaths of innocent Kashmiri teens. Look at the prudence of the state and its political leadership which talks of safeguarding the morale of its armed forces in complete disregard to the morale of the people who they term as their “own people”. Irrespective of how the state and its intellectuals and media talks about Kashmir and the anger and alienation of its people, fact of the matter remains that people in Kashmir throw stones not only because someone provokes them to do so, but they do it also because they themselves are not happy with the way state treats them; they do it because they are frustrated with the institutions of the state which are, for them, symbols of tyranny. They throw stones and shout slogans not only with an eye on some political outcome, but they simply do it to vent out their anger and frustration against the system which is in no mood to heed what they feel and want to communicate. They do it because Kashmir’s children and youth have not been and are not being offered a bright enough future in so-called “Shinning India”. Even when they know a stone in their hand will beget a bullet in their chest or head, they still pick up and throw it. Why?

It will be interesting to see how regional majors — both NC and PDP which have shown and relegated themselves as extensions of New Delhi in J&K — look at and articulate the track-record of their failures in engaging with the alienated lot in Kashmir. Asking for vote and support is ok, but then it is also necessary for the people here to have a reason for voting or supporting a particular party – and this is something that mainstream political groupings will have to understand.

Kashmir Images

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