By Kunal Anand:
Kashmir is on the boil, and there seems to be no end to it. What started off as a mass protest against the alleged killings of two teenagers has now spiraled into an uncontrollable flame that has claimed over a dozen civilian lives in the last few weeks. The separatist factions have only added fuel to this fire. They not only incite people to attack the police and government buildings, but have also come up with a weekly calendar which shows Friday as a holiday instead of Sunday and has a schedule of protest rallies for the week.
A state with one of the highest rate of unemployment and insurgency couldn’t have asked for something worse. Youngsters are being made into professional stone-pelters by the separatists and poor teenagers are also joining the league, and worse — they are being paid for this (unemployment forces people to take it up). [source] The agony and frustration of these wounded souls couldn’t have found a deadlier outlet as of now. The CRPF is on backfoot after numerous allegations of firing at innocent people and the police as always is inept in dealing with any crisis. First time Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is facing a crisis that many seasoned politicians would have found impossible to deal with.
Naysayers predict this as the beginning of the end of India’s hold over Kashmir. Or is it the beginning of the end of Kashmir’s hold over India? For decades, Indians, irrespective of their statehood and religion have accepted Kashmir as India’s crown. India has pumped in billions to protect Kashmir from the fangs of terrorism. The mountains have been painted red by the blood of our soldiers fighting for nothing but Kashmir. An entire community that had lived in the valley for centuries was evicted just to satisfy the separatists who view anything non-Islamic as anti-Kashmir.Violence has charred the psyche of the poor masses to such an extent that they refuse to realize that “Azaadi” or an accession to Pakistan won’t make them any better. How can a country that is unable to stop bombs going off daily in its major cities offer respite to the Kashmiris? How can a country that is globally acknowledged as a failed state make Kashmir a success? How can the militants that don’t spare Muslims of Islamic nations like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq leave Kashmiris on their own if it’s declared a sovereign nation? Can’t Kashmir be their way to India?
I do not justify the killing of innocents, be it at the hand of terrorists or Indian security forces. I have not lost anyone close to me in a terrorist attack and so, I do not claim to understand fully the grief of the mothers who have lost their sons at the altar of this ongoing madness. But I know one thing- Hatred is never an answer.
Dr.Shah Faesal, a Kashmiri topped this year’s Civil services exam. The untimely death of his father in 2002 at the hands of unidentified militants days before his Pre-Medical Test did not deter Dr. Faesal from clearing the examination or becoming the first candidate from Kashmir in several years to be selected to the IAS through open merit. If this champ could rise against all that is bad in Kashmir today, then so can the disillusioned youths of the valley. They need to understand that the best way to promote Kashmir is to be a part of the system. If this flawed system of ours is good enough for Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Bihar, then there’s no reason why it won’t be for Kashmir. The only thing is, Kashmir has to give itself one more chance. Kashmir has to understand that India and Indians love them and care for them. Contrary to what the separatists will say, we don’t call Kashmir the “Heaven on Earth” for no reason. Kashmir is a testimony to our dreams of a nation where people aren’t judged on the basis of their religion. We don’t discriminate against Kashmir. Let’s hope Kashmir doesn’t discriminate itself.
If Kashmir is lost, India will lose a battle against treachery, bigotism and fundamentalism. But the biggest loss will be of Kashmir because Kashmiriyat will be lost forever. At the Oscars, A.R Rehman , in his acceptance speech said- “ All my life I’ve had a choice between hate and love, and I chose love, and now I’m here”. Kashmir, I pray you choose the same.
What do you think are the possible solutions to the on going Kashmir conflict? Please do comment below or email us at [email protected]. You can also tweet us at @YouthKiAwaaz.
The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.
Image courtesy: http://news.rediff.com/slide-show/2010/feb/08/slide-show-1-kashmir-pelting-stones-for-a-price.htm