By Badrul Duja:
Unrest in Kashmir is not a new phenomenon. Like in 2008 and 2010, the situation is tense and dangerous for all the people whether it’s the Indian government, the Kashmiri people or the Pakistani government. Burhan Wani’s assassination turned the whole scenario in Kashmir into a bloody and ‘pellet-full’ one. The causes of this anger, unrest and burn are multiple. Here are what I feel are the reasons which have turned this heaven into a hell full of the three Bs: bullets, bodies and blood.
Burhan Wani’s death led to the whole unrest. He was a youth icon among Kashmiris. His story of picking up the gun is identified as the same story which forces the Kashmiri youth to pick up the gun. His innocent brother was beaten up and killed by security forces in front of him. This is what is said to have led Burhan Wani to rebel. Since the past two years, every funeral of a militant has seen thousands of people gathering together.
It appears that the BJP government at the centre is in no mood to discuss the Kashmir issue with Pakistan or with the Kashmiri leadership. They seem to be, somehow or the other, trying to escape from taking talks forward. Sometimes they don’t want Hurriyat in the dialogue process, sometimes they want to talk only about Kashmir under Pakistan. Thus, in one way or the other this approach of the Indian PM, Foreign Minister and NSA has led to a political vacuum in the Valley where peace and talks appear to have no value as of now.
Along with security forces and the government, the Indian media seems to be leaving no stone unturned in demonising Kashmiris and their cause. Discussions, debates, public tweets etc. are adding fuel to the fire in which Kashmiris are burning. Instead of highlighting and discussing the human rights violations, killings of children, pellet injuries etc. they seem happy to label Kashmiris as terrorists, or Pakistani parrots and Muslim fundamentalists. The more Indian media shows anti-Kashmir stories, the more anti-India and possibly pro-Pakistan Kashmiris will turn and are, in fact, turning. But TRPs seem to be doing the talking, not sense.
67% Kashmiris voted in the Assembly Elections for bjili, pani and sadak. Yet, the 87 MLAs of J&K were nowhere to be seen during these days. Few visited hospitals, few met the families of victims etc. After 10 days, when the CM intervened we saw a minister going to a hospital with his security making sure that no civilian volunteers were allowed to be present.
That @MehboobaMufti went to see her injured MLA is understandable; that she didn't visit any other injured is inexplicable & unforgivable!!!
— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) July 18, 2016
Another important cause is that the BJP-PDP alliance in the Valley has turned bloody and disastrous. There appears to be a total mistrust among the people towards them. The Central BJP government is not ready with any economic package for Kashmiri people. The floods of 2014 are the biggest example where no proper package for financial assistance was provided by the Centre to the Valley. Such things have probably added to the mistrust of the government and people are unhappy both with Centre as well as the State as BJP and PDP’s election campaign was based on flood relief promises. PDP leader Tariq Karra had also openly accused the centre of deceiving Kashmiris and his political party. Besides, out of the amount given by Centre to the State, 500 crores were taken by the Defence Ministry for the Army’s work during the floods from the State Disaster Relief Fund. Did the Army demand such a bill for the floods in Tamil Nadu or Uttarakhand?
Similar were the promises of an IIT and IIM which we never got.
The most anticipated scheme of the Central government was the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme for Kashmiri students which was introduced during UPA’s second tenure. It is now in shambles. Thousands of Kashmiri students were forced to leave their colleges and universities outside Kashmir as the Central government has not paid for their expenses.
a) The beef ban in the Kashmir valley and other states where a good number of Muslims are living seems to be another example of creating a divide on communal lines. Unlike other states, J&K is a Muslim majority state where beef has consumed without much issue. The ban has, however, has angered the people of Kashmir because they perceive it as a threat to communal harmony. Obviously, it will directly affect the people of Kashmir.
b) Sainik Colony: The Sainik Colony plan further angered people and unified them to revolt against the construction of said colony.
c) Separate Pandit Colony: Separate colonies for Kashmiri Pandits was the worst thing which Central government could do to the people of J&K. Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Ahmedis etc. all live in Kashmir. Our social fabric is that of what we call Kashmiriyat. These communal divisive policies are not bridging the gap. They’re further widening it.
Sometimes Kashmiri students are attacked for supporting West Indies in a cricket match, sometimes for supporting Pakistan. Sometimes they are attacked for not chanting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. Sometimes they are attacked for having a beard on their face. Sometimes they are labelled as Pakistanis and sometimes as terrorists. My own friend came back from a medical college in Uttarakhand as he was called a terrorist because he was a Kashmiri. More than 30 incidents of violence against Kashmiri students outside Kashmir have been reported in the past three years.
This is also a major reason for unrest in Kashmir. The AFSPA shield gives them a green signal to do whatever they feel it is right to do. From fake encounters to disappearances, from torture to civilian killings, all have time and again created anguish and anger among the people of Kashmir. Their duty is the protection and not the killing of Kashmiris.
The killing in Dadri of Mohammad Akhlaq, attacks on minorities and the ‘intolerance wave’ have all had a direct effect on Kashmir. On the Dadri killing, late CM of the BJP-PDP government in J&K Mufti Mohammed Sayeed asked the Centre to take steps for curbing such incidents. He went on to say that if we are divided, we can’t progress. This was a clear warning by the late CM to the Centre that the anger over Dadri was present in the Valley also.
Debates on Article 370, the scrapping of JKCET for NEET, turning the regional engineering college in Srinagar into NIT, attempts to abrogate Article 370, state subject laws, flawed power sharing with NHPC, debates on J&K flags have also contributed to the unrest. The accession of J&K to India gave three subjects to the Centre viz Defense, Foreign Affairs and Communications. Perhaps these three subjects were there only on paper. From 1947 to 2016 we saw an erosion of Article 370, erosion of the State’s autonomy in the valley. From a change in the post of Sadr-e-Riyasat to the post of Governor, from a separate post of PM in J&K to that of CM, from the Delhi Agreement of 1952 to the Indira-Sheikh accord of 1973, from the changing of REC to NIT to changing the CET, i.e., the State’s common entrance test into NEET, i.e., a national test.
The Kashmir problem is an old problem. It needs to get resolved. Resolution or referendum on Kashmir is important to save the Valley from erupting in flames after every three to four years. The government’s promise was a resolution of the Kashmir problem. 67% Kashmiris voted in elections in Kashmir. They didn’t boycott it. It’s the right time for India to hold a referendum in Kashmir and solve this problem once for all. The Indian government must understand that they might be able to bring the current unrest in Kashmir under control, but the anti-India sentiment is increasing day by day. And the coming generations of Kashmir are already aware of the problems in Kashmir.