Kashmir. A state plagued by terrorism, mass uprising, violence, bureaucracy, politics of the worst kind and any other thing you can associate with chaos. As the chaos deepens, rational thought, reason and logic, seem to have abandoned one and all. One bad decision after another has turned the already volatile environment of the state into a full-blown catastrophe. One cannot, at this point know, what will happen next. A student is no longer protected and safe in their school.
On April 12, 2017, as per accounts and reports by various news agencies, an army Casspir vehicle from the 55 Rashtriya Rifles entered the Degree College in Pulwama, when most students were in classes. Shortly afterwards, students protested against the presence of military personnel on campus. This incident was followed by massive protests in the following week where neither of the parties backed down. Many students, including women, were injured. As per eyewitness accounts, the principal of the college, threw himself in front of the personnel, asking them not to hit the students but to take his life instead. He was sacked later.
A day or two after this incident, students from different colleges across the main city of Srinagar protested in massive numbers. The situation got even worse as forces took riot control means to disperse protesters. The situation deteriorated further, and students started pelting stones. Many female students were injured as well. In other districts, the situation followed a similar pattern – students were out on the streets pelting stones, getting injured by tear gas shells and other means of riot control. Every day a protest was reported in one area or another.
When I take a step back and think, several points flash in neon. The biggest neon flash is how will anyone justify violence of such nature on students. The paramilitary forces gate-crashing into an educational institution, in the first place, doesn’t seem to be a very well thought out move. If paramilitary forces were present earlier for any reason in the college, it could have been conveyed earlier. In a state where wounds of last year’s uprising have not healed yet, was it advisable for forces to just barge into a college? The level of savagery and insensitivity that we, as humans, have reached, baffles, and at the same time horrifies me.
Having said that, how is stone pelting a solution to anything? What are the results? Have we achieved anything by pelting stones? Violence begets violence. Only injuries and deaths have taken place. No solution. No progress.
The burning question here is, what gives anyone the license to kill and hit students, and that too in the world’s largest democracy? What makes 14-15-year-old kids take part in riots? And I present this argument on the premise that children are children, whether in India, USA, China, or any other place. There is a certain manner in which children have to be dealt, not by attacking them with pellets and tear gas shells.
In a state where resentment towards the government, and alienation, is already at its peak, how do these decisions play out? Don’t these decisions just worsen the already terrible situation? And now, the government, in what I believe it thinks is a masterstroke has banned social media to stop the transmission of sensitive content. Being the largest democracy, isn’t it just plain embarrassing for the government to make such a move? Also, won’t news spread even if social media is banned? If you are to stop transmission of news you have to ban all forms of media – print and electronic as well. Again where’s the reason and logic behind these decisions? Won’t it just further alienate the youth and the people? Won’t it just spark more hatred?
The biggest misconception about Kashmir today is that the youth wants just geographical and physical freedom. What we fail to understand is freedom isn’t geographical or physical anymore, it is also psychological. It is freedom from the politics that is being played in the name of azadi. It won’t be long before this chaos descends into anarchy and all talent, youth and resources are lost.