Right since independence, Kashmir has been the burning topic on the hot tables between India and Pakistan. Tracking and countering Pakistan’s interests has been a top priority task for the Indian army and the intelligence officials. Three wars and numerous terror strikes later, the controversy still burns. All grades of politicians, analysts, security officials, all seem to press on the idea that the current troubles in the valley and the widespread protests are solely due to Pakistan’s intervention and the mismanagement of the situation by Indian officials. But on a deeper note, taking into account the ground realities, it is clearly visible that the violence instigated is not the handiwork of foreign militants, but the slow evolution of people’s anger and discontent.
Passing through more than 100 days of violence and protests, spelled with widespread curfew and the death and injuring of thousands, including security officials, all the evidence on the streets point at one common fact. All through the path, no evidence of the LeT or the JeM where found, thought the Hisbul Mujahideens were commonly involved. With no evidence of foreign interventions and terrorists, who is propelling the anger and violence? This brings to light the vast population of “unattached militants”. The majority involved in protests are the common people of the valley, comprising all sections of society, from the highly educated to the unemployed and even children and teenagers.
In a pursuit for the Promised Land, both sides seem to have lost vision of what the common people of the valley desire. The streets are filled with cries for AZAADI. This freedom, is not from India or Pakistan, but from both. Popular voice of the people demand the right to a separate state and separate citizenship. The cry for their freedom to live. The Indian army has come to be perceived as an occupying force. People are fed up with the frequent curfews, break-ins, raids, constant disappearance of their loved ones, the beatings, torture and to top it off, the indiscriminate use of pellet guns for crowd control.
The uprising rocking the valley is the expression of seething anger that has been built up over the years. Ever since death of Burhan Wani, Kashmir has been in a state of complete shutdown. Only public services such as health care and public distribution seem to be functioning properly. The shutdown has gained the popular approval. The people in fact are supporting the state of numbness. Several protests have taken place around the valley at the time of shutdown. People even have a protest calendar that gives information about where, when and how the next protest is to occur.
Instead of understanding or engaging with the angers youth and the commons of the valley, the state has resorted to using force to ensure a hard and fast clamp down on the protests. Anti-Indian protests are banned across the country, no matter how peaceful they are. Armed with AFSPA and the draconian Public Safety Act, the security forces are engaged in whipping down any signs of protests. But these measures have only strengthened the public anger and are becoming the source of more and more rioting.
The youth of the valley are rising with seething anger and discontent towards the authorities that have snatched away their freedom to live. Today’s youth were born and brought up in an era where violence was a common thing in Kashmir. Even as kids, their houses where constantly raided, many of their loved ones arrested and tortured. The constant disappearances, they grew up seeing their mothers scurrying behind shadows, afraid of their families. The violence they witnessed in their adolescence has transcended to become hatred to the authorities, especially the Indian forces.
The battle for Kashmir is fast turning into a battle for the minds of kashmiri youth. The Indian security forces have resorted to using force to calm the appraisal. But using the same force, that was once used to neutralize lashkar and hisbul, on 10 year old children, has only fueled the flame. Indian forces may have won the war agains foreign militants and terror outfits in the valley, but are grappling with a graver problem; the complete alienation of the kashmiri youth. The possibility of an entire generation turning away from the motherland, itself a more frightening prospect than the protests and violence.
Treating the current unrest in the valley as a simple extension of the past, is a gross understatement of the looming threat.