Rethink Kashmir

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Whatever is happening in Kashmir is really worrisome. And scary too, because not a single day passes off without people getting killed here. While the encounters between the combatants – the government forces and the militants — are happening almost on daily basis and inflicting fatal costs on both sides, civilians too also falling like sitting ducks to the bloody confrontations day in and day out. As if this was not enough, people are once again being killed on suspicion of, and after being labeled as “police informers”. So the situation as it exists today, is steadily reeling  back to what it was during the nineties. This is indeed very troubling for everybody.

In this new scheme of things, particularly the resurgence of militancy in Kashmir, and the fact that the new breed of militants are drawing from the indigenous human resource — bulk from the young educated lot — any Kashmir analyst worth his/her salt would bet it that whatever is happening was bound to happen. Primarily because the opportunities thrown up by the interludes of situational calm all along have been deliberately squandered by the foolish arrogance and dangerous complacence of the political executive, which instead of trying to salvage damage, felt it prudent to rely on time-tested tactic of buying time and practically doing nothing.

The rigid arrogance of successive governments –UPA-I and II and now BJP-led NDA-II – their complete lack of will to address the latent and visible causes of anger and alienation here have already blown up to nothingness whatever is left of Delhi’s ‘so-called’ peace overtures. ‘So-called’ because the governments in New Delhi as well as in Srinagar, have the tendency of deliberately confusing the relative but fragile calm in Valley with the ‘peace’. And the irony is that they want the people also to believe that they would bring peace to the troubled Kashmir without them actually conceding anything to the people here!

It is this complacence that is the real culprit and obviously those responsible for having made it into a state policy are equally blameworthy. The large amount of external scapegoating as well as the tailoring of otherwise ramshackle evidence in a bid to slam every blame on external elements and non-state actors within is just a ploy to save face and justify repressive tactics in the state response. The political leadership as well as the security establishment have over the years perfected the art of being in perpetual mode of denial when it comes to the events in Kashmir. They know that whatever happens in Kashmir can be and should be slammed on “forces across the border” and they have been doing it successfully. No doubt the tactic works with the too domesticated domestic audiences in India, which is the political constituency New Delhi actually caters to and worries about; but the immediate fallout of this line of action has been that it remains blind to the realities on the ground in Kashmir. With everybody singing in chorus denying the real cause of anger and frustration of the Kashmiri people, the state tactics only add to the confusion at the top, which then translates into more suffering for the people of ‘flesh and blood’ in the streets of Kashmir.

While there is an eerie calm in Kashmir, the popular anger is far from being calmed. Amid the frustrating turbulence which is thus far under wraps, for which governments have no one but itself to blame, the unfortunate part is that Kashmir is once caught up in a vicious web of unbridled violence. Even as the governments have numerous ways and means of dealing with or containing the public anger and unrest, it seems to have made up its mind to deal with the situation with an ‘iron fist’. Had it not been so, then certainly the situation would have been different. Popular belief here is that the governments, which provoke crises after crises here by refusing to acknowledge its own follies and failures, slams every blame on the people of Kashmir, and then lets loose its security establishment to exact a cost from them only. May be not completely true, but this belief is not unfounded either.

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