The Kashmir issue not a new one, it has been a serious concern since independence. It has come up with varying intensity at different times and so have varied the actions against it. The complexity of the issue raises several questions which needs serious attention. When one says, kashmir is ours…what is it that is ours? Is it the territory (area), is it the people who live in that area, or is it both the people and territory, or something else? If its the territory, then does it mean that the people living in the territory are not ours or something like that? In a way, then the claim about stone pelters as terrorists can be justified; which needs to be controlled by any means. If it’s the people living in the area (which is difficult to theorise), then it becomes important to see what they want and what is their concern. Is it in the context of India or Pakistan or independence? If its the territory and the people( which is even more difficult to theorise), then the question comes is, what is it, leading to such violence and turbulence?
The other question is, who decides this? Is it the people in power that will decide the scope of ‘ourness’? Is it upto the population of the country or the people living in Kashmir, to decide? Is it upto some other country or some groups within Kashmir? Who decides this ‘ourness’ and what one means by Kashmir? The effort is not to objectify but to have a better understanding of the issue.
Whenever people outside Kashmir talk of ‘ourness’, often they make Kashmir their own possession which can be seen as othering of Kashmiris. In a way, similar to the idea of husband’s possession of wife. It is important to see the fight or the violence in Kashmir is against whom and who are these agitating people. The efforts made by the government are that of solving the problem or silencing over the problem has to be seen.
In the recent time, in a crisis like situation during the election in some areas in Kashmir, in order to stop violence, Major Nitin Gogoi tied Farooq Ahmed Dar(a civilian) as a human shield which eventually led to the stopping of stone pelting, for a time being. The video of this incident went viral, encouraging several opinions. It could be seen, in a way, as an impulsive response to the situation. Even, may be, as an effort to stop violence and prevent casualties on the part of Major Gogoi. But the question is how far is it right or can be justified? At the same time, how is it fine to promote or commend such an action by the people in power?
Omar Abdullah called it ‘dehumanising Dar as a toy exhibiting him as a lesson for stone pelters’. Such human shield did stop violence for time being but wouldn’t it bring more hatred and anger among the Kashmiris and make the situation worst? It is a violation of fundamental rights as well as human rights. In this act the question arises is, who was army protecting and at what cost? What if the stone pelting had not stopped even after the human shield? The life of a civilian was at a risk. Along with commending to such an act, actor and politician Paresh Rawal takes it to the whole new level by talking about tying Arundhati Roy instead.
There had been enough criticism over the act already and commending it the army chief made the situation more problematic. It openly made the Kashmiris the other. The praising of Nitin Gogoi in a way proposes to practice such an act as and when needed. What would have been the reaction, if such an act of human shield was undertaken in some other agitation in a region other than Jammu and Kashmir?