National

Kashmir: The year of unrest is fading out

As 2016 draws to a close, it is time to look back with mixed feelings on what you did and what you missed out during this past year. No wonder, you didn't do anything significant this year, like winning some tournament, or a gold medal in the academics. Kashmir dealt with the worst kind of an outbreak of unrest in six years. Call it fate, Burhan-aftermath or a disaster. It really pushed us back to the stone age. It will take us years and years altogether to recover from its aftershocks. Of what some will continue to haunt us. Good or bad, chasing has become an integral part of our lives.

This year, unlike many years, especially when looking at the past six years, was very challenging for the state government which is a coalition of two parties (PDP & BJP), a so-called 'unholy alliance' that took reins of power in 2015 after the defeat of the National Conference in the elections. The ruling party, together with its allies, faced the largest and longest demonstration and unrest in recent history. Widespread protests were last experienced on the aftermath of the 2010 fake encounter and Qur'an-burning controversy.

The most recent round of protests began in July 2016 and spread across the Valley within no time, just after the killing of a local boy, the Hizb commander Burhan Wani. Like the previous protests, these recent protests resulted in hundreds of deaths and injuries as well as detention of thousands. In a similar vein, more or less 700 lost their eyesight due to pellets. Like Insha, most of them are wearing dark glasses. Colours now mean little to them.

This time, the protests were not limited to towns and city outskirts. They also hit rural areas. Common men and women as well as students played an important role in the organisation and execution of these protests. Instead of entertaining the quest for a settlement of the unrest in a peaceful manner, the government deployed security forces at schools and small villages as a result of which many individuals were killed, injured, blinded and detained.

The situation today may look normal to a naked eye. But the chase will continue. Some call this chasing a quagmire. Like it or not, we are part of it. A settlement can't be achieved in two-three days. A long-term plan becomes a prerequisite. Our leaders should work on such a plan in the new year. Don't bite off more than you can chew. One big reason for that is you may try to change too many things at once. Changing actions and inactions is hard work. Pick one. Remember, if you succeed at making a change, there is always next year to make another change.

The writer is a student of disaster management at University of Kashmir and hails from Lolab Valley, Kashmir. He may be contacted at gowharwrites@hotmail.com

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