Violence in the Valley: a Kashmiri voice

Srinagar: Suicide bombings and attacks are not new to Kashmir. But now Lethpora, Pulwama type of attacks will change the contours of insurgency in Kashmir. Instead of understanding the pain of Kashmir, BJP-PDP first declared an all-out war against Kashmiri civilians and youth in 2016. The use of pellet guns created havoc. Since then army and police as a habit are used to harass, torture and illegally detain innocent youth. The rampant use of draconian laws by state bureaucracy, zero tolerance for dissent and no political space are pushing youth to the wall. The bruised youth find no space in non-violent resistance and cannot live a normal life. The vested interests do it consciously because their economic interests are affiliated with the killing, detention and torture of youth. If there is no insurgency in Kashmir the state will invent one. 

Politicians, instead of trying to mitigate the problem and resolve it, are talking in the language of violence and Modi is saying that we will decimate the insurgency. This iron-fist policy has failed in the past and will fail in future too. These types of statements only fuel insurgency. The engagement with political stakeholders is zero by the Modi government, because they want to give out the message that we are a great power, so we will never negotiate on table. Having failed to deliver on every promise of development, this suicide attack will help BJP to exploit Kashmir and Pakistan to polarize people of India and try to win elections that are around the corner.

Having been obsessed with Pakistan, that everything is done on their pretext, India as a state is depicting it's failure. Since 1947 the story of Kashmir has been that of betrayal by India. No Kashmiri trusts India, plus the use of iron-fist policy is paying India back in the same coin. In no encounter are militants made unconscious by use of certain gases or made to surrender but only death is supposed to be their destiny. These deaths are celebrated by the Indian media, army and Kashmir police and this fuels more resentment in Kashmir. Since last year and more, most of the militants have been killed in what police describe as “clean operations,” so now they have started retaliating back.

The war has been imposed on Kashmiris by India and Pakistan and we are made to shoulder the coffins of our youth daily. Instead of most Indians we Kashmiris are deeply anguished and pained at the loss of scores of poor army men. They are victims of brutal violence that India and Pakistan has imposed on our people. Now some people are demanding revenge and increase the number of victims. If today fifty families are aggrieved, then after a war fifty thousand will wail for their dead. Now is the time that we give up the policy of an eye for an eye.

The need of the hour is to engage with Pakistan, militants, Hurriyat leadership and people of Kashmir by both India and Pakistan. Only Dialogue, Non Violence and End of Militarization will pave the way for an end to the vicious cycle of brutal state and non-state violence that daily consumes many lives.

I would end with eminent historian Kalhan's quote, "Kashmiris can never be conquered by the brutal use of power but only through spiritual forces".