Akeel Rashid

When students unlearn the ‘Viable methods of protestation’!

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The students in Kashmir are once again out on the streets manifesting their rage–yeah rage! Because protest is too weak a word for something which tends to cause disruption–and it is certain that they will end up being resentful and burned out, as usual. By abandoning the educational institutions (read space spaces) and forcing their closure, they have ignored the opportunity to register their protest in visionary and productive ways. I would not hesitate to denounce this violent behavior exhibited by the students, all in the name of protests. But let me make it clear that I have no intention to rob the students of their “right to protest” but my aim is to give them a context of “why they fail to organize result-orientated protest demonstrations” and, above all, their failure to utilize the “safe spaces” of their educational campuses.

In the contemporary times, the conduct of protestation has changed drastically and its scope is no more limited to just expressing disapprovals and objections but, above all else, putting forth solutions that remedy an issue. Notwithstanding this widely held conduct of protestation, the students in Kashmir are far from giving it an expression, leave alone utilizing its present-day essence. The fact of the matter is that students in Kashmir have never really attempted to employ the viable methods of protestation to outsmart the “administrative curbs” whatsoever. They are just used to chanting vapid slogans, the reason being that they are too incompetent to seize the favorable circumstances, which are rare but not scarce, for organizing result-oriented protest demonstrations.

Before taking to streets to seek justice for somebody, the students should be well aware of the fact that “manifestation of violence in any form amounts to gross injustice” and when the very fact is ignored, they tend to create most unfavorable circumstances for their intended protestation.

More to the point: There has never been any case in which the authorities have ordered the shutting down of educational institutions just because students “protested peacefully” within their campuses. The class work is suspended only after keeping in mind the law and order situation at the educational institutions as it is always the student-police clash that follows the suspension of class work. What is most worrisome is not necessarily the class work suspension— though this is a loss— but closure of educational campuses which, undoubtedly, offer the “safe spaces” for the exchange of ideas.

Having completed my college and university education, I can say with conviction that I always used to sense this “safety” while exchanging ideas and thoughts with my fellow students, be it in the classrooms, library or at my college and university cafeterias. I have participated in various protest demonstrations at my educational campuses, without jeopardizing their functioning. Predicting the effectiveness and course of protests is very difficult in a conflict zone like Kashmir and it becomes imperative for the students to value the stability of their “safe spaces”.

There is a maxim that states, “The students are responsible for contributing the foundation of a civilized society” and if our society is witnessing a “rapid moral degradation”, the students should be taking their anger out on themselves because the student population “has some blame to bear for this societal flaw”.

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