Impacts of violence

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For those reeling under the age-old structures of deprivation and violence; illiteracy, hunger, disease and death; the misery and suffering is a shared experience. For them choice dangerously narrows down to where they no longer choose. They just have to live it. With all its physical, emotional and psychological burdens, what matters is the existence – nothing more, nothing less.

Celebrate it as “human resilience” or call it the shrinking of options for existence, the crude and ugly realities of life when studied shatters many a myths that make our make-believe and best possible worlds, where people, like the frightened pigeons, prefer to shut their eyes and not see the cat, thinking they could simply wish away the unpleasant.

However, the study of the life of the people – for whom the “happiness is fleeting and sadness is forever”; who endure and live the violence with all its structural and pornographic dispositions – is a valiant attempt to de-escalate and defuse the tension and reduce the miseries of the suffering masses. It is an effort to dilute and neutralize the alienation of the ugly (violence) from the general realm of human experience. What is “not-so-pleasant, ugly and horrifying” cannot just be wished away simply by pushing it into oblivion by not talking about it. Reality, however crude it is, needs to be confronted for what it is and what it means not only to those who live it but for the entire humanity in general.

Kashmir has been a sort of battle zone for some three decades now. Obviously like elsewhere in the world, the conflict in Kashmir has had its toll on each and every sphere of life and activity. Unfortunately, even when violence had had a profound impact on every dimension of life, so far not many efforts have been dedicated to study and gauge this impact.

For instance, it has been empirically proven that a huge chunk of Kashmir’s population is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) in its various manifestations, which is direct fallout of the unabated violence people have endured here. As the Cold War animosity between two superpowers prevented numerous conflicts from escalating into full-blown wars, the ongoing conflict is in a similar manner acting as a sort of lid preventing the simmering mental and emotional ailments from surfacing. However, again as the end of Cold War bipolarity resulted in a spurt of latent conflicts surfacing all over the globe, it is feared that once the continuous stress and perennially hyper-altered mental state triggered by the politically charged up atmosphere ceases to be the stimuli, its ‘lid effect’ will be gone. What will be the condition of peoples’ mental and emotional health then can only be imagined if the measures are not taken beforehand to gauge besides the physical impact, the emotional and mental costs violence has exacted from the Kashmiri population, and measures are put in place in advance to deal with it.

It is high time that the society and the government agencies and institutions start putting in place the required wherewithal for taking care of the people’s mental and emotional health. Looking at the conflict and related violence in Kashmir only through the political lenses is not ok; there is also an emotional and psychological side to it, which also needs to be accounted and cared for. So far not much has been done on this count. This is possibly one of the reasons why the society is witnessing ever-increased incidence of drug abuse and similar other vices. And, as the available evidence suggests, very young people, sometimes the ones even in their early teens, are taking to violence and getting consumed in the sure-loser confrontations with the security forces. This is a major cause of worry which needs to be looked into and demystified scientifically; for then only could an effective strategy be devised to reverse this dangerous trend.

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