While a civilian uprising still continues in Kashmir since July 8 when a popular rebel commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani was shot dead in an encounter in South Kashmir, people across India have various views about the situation in Kashmir or even the politics of Kashmir. In order to find out what do youth from India think about Kashmir we asked them one question: What do you think has been going on in Kashmir for last three months?
We are producing their answers verbatim here as told to our reporter Surbhi Gupta.
At one level, nothing is different in Kashmir. Our soldiers are still dying at the hands of terrorists; the same terrorists who gain sympathy from certain anti-national elements within Indian society, who, for reasons I will never understand, propagate the views of these people and demonize those who have chosen to defend the nation against those that aim to break it. At another level, however, there does appear to be a shift – this is a shift from repetitive emotionless ‘KadiNinda’ of the previous Government to a more proactive stance in Kashmir. This proactive stance of our esteemed Prime Minister has riled up the ‘Azadi Brigade’ and the journalists of mainstream media and this has been a revealing exercise. It has led them to create martyrs out of terrorists and cry their hearts out for actors who couldn’t care less about the families of the soldiers, who never deserved what was done to them. So, in the last three months, Kashmir has revealed the intentions and affiliations of many who do not necessarily reside there.
26, Civil Engineer
In the last three months there has been the agitation from some part of the Kashmir claiming the independence or merger with Pakistan based on following agendas or perception.
- Human rights violation
- Freedom from unemployment
- Lack of proper infrastructure
Many of these human right violations went unattended and lack of conflict resolution steps led to isolation of some of the frustrated and angry local Kashmiris which were then misused by the Pakistan with funding and training them to be used against Indian Civilians and army. This small fire has spread and burnt the Kashmir with the blow of air from Pakistan. To resolve this retaliation by this sect of Kashmiris, strict action was bound to be taken which make the situation more badly. In a concluding line it is the misunderstanding and lack of will for conflict resolution that has been utilised by the Pakistan and separatist forces. It’s better to resolve the conflicts with proper listening to their needs and cutting the Foreign aids and terrorist operations simultaneously. Best is to go with people rather than leaders.
21, Law student
Since the killing of Burhan Wani, we have witnessed unprecedented increase in State atrocities which range from incessant killings to blinding youth with pellet guns coupled with heightened jingoistic discourse on Kashmir both in India and Pakistan. The collapse of State machinery and the hardened policy stand juxtaposed with complete disregard to the Rule of Law has yet again put forth the ugliness which thrives in the scenic valley. The only light amidst the darkness is the solidarity amongst and beyond Kashmiris.
What has happened in J&K over the past few months – for an informed citizen living in Delhi, one who reads the paper daily, follows the news – it’s a roller coaster. While the issues of national security and terrorism worry you, at the same time, the difficult lives amidst news of evacuations, atrocities, human rights violations, makes you wonder which is more worrisome. Add to this pendulum politics and one thinks whether some of these worth over looking for the larger good? Can we achieve a balance? Innocent children, disrupted families and lives – that’s what remains in my mind. It’s a constant battle between the mind and the heart – making it even more difficult as time passes – to reconcile much of this, and an even greater challenge to put yourself in their shoes, to imagine the difficulties. The conditions and context are hard – for both the armed forces as well as the communities. Have we come to a point where the simple ‘faith’ has broken down so much that the lines are blurred beyond repair? Ultimately, for a common yet informed citizen, it leaves you thinking and wondering, what is right and what is wrong? Time will only tell and stand testimony to whether the power of discrimination we as the human race have, will take us far enough to recognise and deal with many of the concerns before it’s too late. *Name changed.
21, Social worker
Burhan Wani was fighting for a free Kashmir. History repeats itself, a cult hero like Jarnail Bhindranwala in 1984, the situation happened in India, we can witness another event but in a different part and that is Kashmir. Why I want to link both of them is because both are cult heroes and both wanted Khalistan and Azad Kashmir respectively. But both got killed because they were doing ethically wrong things, but the people revolted as they were their heroes. Since 80 days, everything is off in Kashmir and riots were there. How they are accusing BJP and Modi of wanting a wholly Hindu state with no Muslims inside it.
Kashmir has been in flames for past three months. Ever since the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani by the security forces on July 8 earlier this year, the region has once again witnessed mass protests and uprising in the streets. The protests have brought to the fore years of resentment towards the heavy militarization of their state and lives and the havoc caused by draconian acts like AFSPA which give unbridled powers to the over 600,000 security personal who are employed there. These protests have seen more than 84 civilians dead. Close to 200 people have lost their complete eyesight due to pellet gun injuries many of whom are children. Over 12,000 persons have suffered injuries and night time raids and arbitrary arrests of over 1000 people is a regular feature in the valley these days. Ironically, Indian operation in the valley bears all the hall-marks of Israel operations in west bank, Palestine. In both cases there is a systemic denial by the state (in this case India) to deny people their most fundamental rights by using the most brutal and oppressive means possible.
31, Research Scholar, West Bengal
Posing a few questions may provide the answers we are seeking to comprehend the unrest existing in the valley since the past three months. Given that the common man tends to think mostly about the bread and butter in their daily lives, how they are able to sustain in this long duration when the trade and business are totally hampered incurring huge losses? Moreover the state which is heavily dependent on tourism, any untoward incident leading to the unrest is merely a suicidal attempt. So how the mobs are continuously instigated? How the young teens are radicalized for carrying such action which is quite contrary to the other parts of the country?
23, Business Analyst
Kashmir has been the center of unscrupulous atrocities that are showered by various realms of insurgencies since the partition of India. Shared by three countries from 3 sides namely India, Pakistan and China, the humdrum affairs of this peace hungry state are the highest occupants of the headlines these days. The northwest parts of Kashmir are occupied by Pakistan which claims to occupy the rest of Kashmir as well. India claims to occupy the rest of Kashmir, but no nation wants to know the actual opinion of the place. The place is flooded with Pakistan funded terrorist organizations such as JAISH E MOHAMMAD, Lashkar e taiba etc. Militancy in the disputed region of Kashmir has been major fuel for discord between India and Pakistan since the 1980s. Attacks in the region began to increase in scale and intensity following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, when foreign insurgents flooded the region to join the Afghan Mujahideen. Inspired the famous pathankot attacks came the Uri attacks where 19 Indian soldiers were killed in peacetime without any prior knowledge. Pakistan denies taking the responsibility of the attacks while the facts narrate a different story. The Uri attacks spurred a nationwide aggression towards terrorism in India. Facts suggest that links to IS (Islamic state) fraternity might be involved in such strikes, as the infiltration into India has become socially relevant these days. An apt reciprocation was instilled by Indians when the Indian army crossed the LOC as surgical strikes were performed and killed many terrorist thriving on the Pakistani soil. But such hit and get hit back policy is not the ultimate solution. The bilateral relation of the two countries is evident in these strikes and the only state that suffers is Kashmir. Afspa empowers the military to aggravate the civil military relations in Kashmir, which though a necessary evil continues to dilute the trust of local people on India. Flooded with curfews and open fires, the socioeconomic and political life of the people living in Kashmir is affected severely, which is even more aggravated by the exodus of Kashmir Pandits. We as Indians are so much possessive about this “heaven on earth” that we have forgotten how much more valuable are the lives of the people than an establishment of mere supremacy in a state. But being stuck in the ‘tug of war’ between 3 nations ,if Kashmir wanted to remain free, cross border politics won’t allow it to remain independent, and ultimately it would be annexed to any of the countries thus resulting into the same or even more treacherous situation.
The last 3 months in Kashmir have probably been a nightmare worse than what any of us sitting in the comforts of our homes can even imagine. The people of Kashmir have experienced tremendous amount of violence and unrest. Daily life and businesses have been affected it’s a shame what living in one of the most beautiful places in the country is like. Politics of all kinds has made living more difficult wherever it is played and Kashmiri citizens have suffered the worst after effects.. I don’t know if I’m even qualified to comment but no matter whose fault it is the violence can never be justified and the common man is always the one suffering, I hope that the politicians, and the violence instigators on both sides of the border realize this and leave the people alone. It’s high time that the Kashmir residents deserve some peace in life.
Satjit Singh Chhabra
The issue of Kashmir has always been a serious bone of contention, and the recent killing of Burhan Wani is a case in point. In the case of Kashmir, it seems like the more things change, the more they seem to be the same. What has happened in the case of Burhan Wani and post that seems like a repetition of history where the Indian army’s actions aren’t well received by the Kashmiri population which in turn results in their opposition and their stance against India being further strengthened? More communication and political dialogue would rather be a better peaceful solution to this problem instead of violence which values no life. Following the death of Burhan Wani, the most shocking fact that came to light was the extreme involvement of the Kashmiri youth. A worrisome amount of the youth has pleaded their allegiance to militant groups which reinforces the possibility of a bleak situation in the future too. The focus of the youth needs to be targeted towards the betterment of the situation by creating avenues of development, avoiding their involvement in acts of terror and violence.