A five member non-official voluntary group in its latest report has found “a pervasive sense of hopelessness” in Kashmir and said that it was informed by a community leader that the tendency of Kashmiri youth to join militancy has become “more intense.”
The report by Concerned Citizens Group (CCG) was published following a visit to Kashmir earlier this month by Yashwant Sinha, the former External Affairs Minister of India along with three other members: Sushobha Barve Executive Secretary, Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation, Delhi; Air Vice Marshal (Retd.) Kapil Kak; and Bharat Bhushan, a former editor and independent journalist.
A community leader told the CCG members that the tendency in Kashmiri youth towards militancy had “become more intense – similar to what it was in the 1990s.”
The only difference he suggested was that “Pakistan is not investing in militancy for now.”
However, he predicted that the “new militancy will also be anti-Pakistan and there would be no one who would be able to assert any influence over the militants.”
The group further said the mood of Kashmiri people “remained downcast”. “They were not enthused by either the political parties engaging with the delimitation exercise or the prospect of elections to the legislative assembly of a shrunk Union Territory,” it read.
“The people’s mood was marked by lack of expectations from the State, a pervasive sense of hopelessness not witnessed by this Group earlier and deep seated despondency in the youth.”
The J-K political parties, according to the report have been “jolted alive” by the sudden revival of dialogue with New Delhi even though “they may not be able to control the way it is unfolding”.
In the report, CCG said that there is an indifference of people towards the recent meeting between Kashmiri political parties and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Through its conversations with people, the group concluded that the people of Kashmir have no contact or connection with the leaders of the mainstream political parties who they say have “cheated us in the past”. “Most seemed not to care about what happens to these parties,” the report read.
Moreover, CCG has noted a disappointment amongst people with the judicial system with people refusing to go to the courts — openly claiming that appeals to the judiciary are futile. “They also show an utter lack of faith in politics. Even the separatists seem to have lost their importance in the public mind,” it read.
On meeting the members of the Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), CCG noted that there has been an estimated loss of approximately Rs. 70,000 crore to business in Kashmir in the last three years as claimed by KEA.
CCG also highlighted militancy and the use of draconian laws including the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) being used even against juveniles.