Jammu and Kashmir, since independence is one such state which carries constantly a painful saga of ups and downs despite having a democratically elected government since seven decades. It can easily be put in league with conflict regions like Syria, Palestine where freedom and human rights don’t matter at all.
Every government formed at the centre blatantly failed to gain the trust of people in Kashmir but the present government led by BJP has pushed the valley to margins where its people have been left hanging between a religious fundamentalist government and Islamic fundamentalist forces.
In many ways, the legacy of dissatisfaction and alienation had deepened. They are as follows:
The situation in Kashmir represents one of the biggest failures of Modi led BJP-RSS government. The critical issue is that the Modi Government has approached the issues of Kashmir from the single point of security instead of approaching it is as a political issue which requires dialogue with all sections of the people. The foremost agenda of BJP remains abrogation of the originally intended provision of Article 370 which provides regulatory autonomy to three regions namely – Jammu, the Kashmir valley and Ladakh, which is a blunder in itself.
Ever since the Narendra Modi government assumed power, the propaganda of “Nationalistic Jingoism” has been touching the sky. During three years of Modi rule, there was been an increase of 42% deaths in the valley which includes militants, security personals and civilians. The number of security personnel killed in terrorist violence in the state has increased 72%–from 111 in the last three years of UPA-II to 191 in the BJP’s first three years. The number of civilian deaths in J&K has also increased by 37%, while terrorist deaths have risen 32%. This is the net result of “Zero Tolerance” policy on terrorism according to the manifesto of the BJP, but why this rise in death?
The government at the center aims to impose its one leader-one culture-one nation formula on J&K via the state government in which BJP enjoys power with PDP. Both state and central government have been taking a stand blaming Pakistan for massive civil unrest which remains the simplest option to opt. Pakistan is definitely involved in activities leading to terrorism such as violation of ceasefire, infiltration along the LoC, whereas on the other hand, stone pelting on security personals, burning of schools are witnessed during civil protests. Under this very government, Indian Army reported that homegrown militants have outnumbered foreign militants i.e., presence 400 active militants out of which 250 are from the Indian side while rest come from Pakistan which clearly indicates that the youth in Kashmir have lost hope in the democratic process of the state.
This has left India devoid of a chance to solely blame Pakistan for violence. The battle of perception between India and Pakistan at the global level has tarnished India’s image by unleashing Hindu majoritarian politics against the Kashmiris which feeds the purpose of Islamic fundamentalist forces. This indirectly leads to severe loss of lives, unrest among civilians, and more importantly, anger among youth.
The recent rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua proves how desperate efforts by Hindutva elements are being made to hyphenate and disturb communal harmony which still exists among different sections of people. A group called Hindu Ekta Manch took out a rally with the tricolour to defend the Kathua rape accused. Leaders from the BJP who were also ministers of J&K government took part in this rally. This whole plan to rape a minor girl was aimed to make Bakherwal nomads move out of the area in fear. This remains the new technique to ensure there is no peace among Kashmiris. Modi government, PDP-BJP govt and rabidly intolerant fascist forces are at the centre to worsen the Kashmir dispute.
70% of the 12 million populations of Jammu & Kashmir is under the age of 31. But one among the threatening cause of deflection of Kashmiri youth towards militancy remains, unemployment. In a recent survey, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) in collaboration with the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) found that Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has the highest unemployment rate of 12.93%. As per the Economic Survey Report of J&K, the unemployment rate in the state is 24.6%. However, in the age-group of 18 to 29 years, the unemployment rate is 13.2%. This is one of the worse results of unresolved conflict in the valley.
In a recent report by The Hindu, journalist Suhasini Haider writes, “The studies found that only 2% of the militants had ever studied at a madrassa or religious school, and amongst the largest militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, which is considered a “local Kashmiri group” as opposed to Pakistan-based Lashkar e Toiba and Jaish e Mohammad, as much as 64% of the recruits had not indicated strong religious inclinations before becoming militants. Only 3% of those surveyed through interrogations or questions put to their friends and families had identified themselves as “Salafist” or “Wahabi” the more radical ideologies followed by pan-Islamic terror groups like Al-Qaeda and Islamic State.”
This report gives a clear message to all of us – the conventional trend of radicalisation of youth towards militant, terrorist organizations at the world level is exactly the opposite among youth of the valley. Instead of ideological influence from religious fundamentalism and mind wash, neighbourhood interaction, social intermingling are the topmost reason among mass deflection of youth lead by fanatic attraction towards killed militants like Burhan Wani and Rauf Khanday.
A fresh example is from the month of May 2018 when a University teacher, Mohammad Rafi Bhat turned into a militant and died in a gunfight with security forces. This has left his family, friends and students state of shock.
The whole society is at a grave loss, families have not been able to reason with their own children and have been losing them to militancy. They see injustice and violence all the time, they have grown up in bloodshed and suppression. Nowadays, they have all the means and method to keep pace with what is happening and why. Nothing can be hidden from them, they draw their own conclusions and suddenly they react by leaving their families and join militant groups.
The manner in which civil protests in Kashmir are being labelled only as “Pakistan-oriented Action” is a wrong conclusion. This unrest has much more to do with state’s inaction towards overall development, participation of youth in different fields like business, government job, sports, tourism and culture. Over exaggeration to incite nationalist feelings are deepening the wound named Kashmir on which government of India is rubbing salt for four years. Even a veteran journalist of The Telegraph, Sankarshan Thakur is not allowed to interview a free leader of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat. An oral order dictates freedom in Kashmir.
To be powerful, a nation needs food, clothes, shelter, potable water, education, healthcare and employment. Weapons cannot be an alternative to that. A nation where the majority of the people die a systematic terrible death, cannot have a solution through the barrels of guns and bombs. As India enjoys a rich legacy of the syncretic, multi-diverse heritage, the solution of Kashmir’s crisis definitely lies in hands of its people, the government they elect but also it lies in the words of Octavio Paz when he wrote a book named, In Light Of India- “Of course, it is impossible to foresee the future turn of events. In politics and history, perhaps in everything, that unknown power the ancients called fate is always at work. Without forgetting this, I must add that, in politics as well as in private life, the surest method for resolving conflicts, however slowly, is dialogue.”