Spotlight on Kashmir’s struggling peace

Naveed Qazi, [July 1, 2019]
THE troubled valley of Kashmir is a place where seasons of peace don’t last long. After death of more than hundred thousand people, it has been declared as a war zone which has its boiling points that have precipitated, out of its historic phases of insurgency. It is also a valley of mass protests, arising out of conditions that are ripe for anarchy and revolution seeking movements. That is why, it is a problem that remains on people’s lips for quite some time repetitively.
Quite lately, everything turned volatile, since the killing of Burhan Wani, in 2016. The anarchic protests, and the mass blinding that happened on the streets, with pellet guns, mainly used against wild animals, had been widely condemned, by nations, activists, writers, politicians, and common people, all over the world. The practice of maiming youth, and injuring the human body, with small metal spheres, was intended to resent any form of challenge, posted against the statist narrative.
Pellets cause damage to vital organs
The anatomy of a pellet gun, is such, that it causes serious damage to vital organs, of the human body. This practice of mass blinding, was not previously heard, from this part of the world, and the heinous crime violated the UN Charter that largely gives impunity to protesters, in a conflict zone.
The renewed political struggle led by the new generation of Kashmiris had come in the shape of Burhan Wani who galvanised the mass sentiment. His death resulted like a spark that causes a volcanic eruption, but at the same time it also gave rise to repression, reflecting that Kashmir’s aspirations were at odds with people, who held the keys of political power. This was something unexpected considering the party claimed to have caught public imagination since its inception.
Wani’s killing resulted in more graves
Kashmiris also saw death of his associates, slowly but in a calculated manner involving a lot of military strategy and police coordination. Wani’s killing resulted in more graves, as he continued to inspire educated, religion loving youth, some even young boys, willing to die for their ideals.
Youths clad and military uniforms with their AK 47s, routinely appeared with audio tapes, mostly giving sermons, warnings, discussing strategies, and giving threatening remarks, against the Indian state and its machinery led by police, the army, and their collaborators.
Due to tipped collaborators, who recruited themselves, or were forced into intelligence operations through coercion, information about the whereabouts of militants, was passed, and there were a flurry of killings in the valley. There were myriad encounters, mainly in the countryside, but the reactions from militant outfits came instantly.
Militants started kidnapping policemen and interrogated them so that their superiors could restrict their operations, especially against their households, or relatives. Dead bodies were often found in the jungles and in homes of neighbourhoods including of ordinary women, believed to have collaborated against militants. In Kashmir women are also believed to be couriers of militants. There have been cases when local police have seized up to twenty grenades and bullets from nabbed couriers reflecting a new development.
Political workers of leading political parties associating themselves with Indian democratic setup had been either killed, or attacked, many of which had resulted in failed operations. JKPDP’s Youth President Waheed Rahman Para had claimed that he had escaped unhurt when he was supposedly attacked near central Budgam.
There were also cases, where local policemen were killed in calculated attacks near police stations. In Achabal area of south Kashmir, Lashker-e-Taiba claimed responsibility for killing of six policemen, involved in the killing of their commander, Junaid Matto. In recent times, a BJP youth member had his throat slit by militants, and the picture of his dead body created waves on Kashmir’s social media. It signified that now independence-seeking people, including radical organisations, were not only fighting against Indian democracy, or its politicians, but it was also a war of a Kashmiri against a Kashmiri. Incidents, such as Pulwama suicide bomb attack, proved to the world that the art of al-Qaeda style Fidayeen attacks had a space in Kashmir as well. In fact, lonely militants such as Zakir Musa who survived on biscuits, associated themselves with the Islamic State, and even saw a breach of trust, from secessionist organisations, such as All Parties Hurriyat Conference.
This violent upbringing that escalated the situation had hurt the social, cultural and spiritual ethos of the valley, but with time, people had to move on, perhaps, waiting for something optimistic to happen, so that sense and resolution would prevail.
As a post reaction, there had been many instances recorded, where common people, often blood relatives, or near relatives complained of police brutality against them, that included night raids, and intensive grilling about the aims of militants, who had suddenly ran away, from their home.
Conflict scenario in South Kashmir
South Kashmir has made the highest tallies of the dead if we compare the overall conflict scenario, in the valley, in recent memory. For its dwellers, every day was a struggle to endure, both psychological, and physical. Thousands participated in funerals, post killings of these militants. Some militants were even brave enough to deliver public speeches, and raise their guns, high in the sky, amidst processions, and were not afraid to be photographed, and recorded in videos, and broadcasted on YouTube, by mobile phones.
The cries of wailing mothers, orphans, widows, eventually became tantamount, to the conflict repercussions. The massive protests, in south Kashmir, and regular attendance, of thousands, in funerals of militants, carried away by many number of pallbearers, made people question about Indian government’s narrative, brimming on its TV channels.
Turmoil is almost synonymous with protests and strikes in Kashmir. While Indian media, continued to demonise majority of Kashmiris, as enthusiasts of terrorism, the world looked at the conditions of this war zone differently because the valley, and the Jammu and Kashmir State at large continues to be a nuclear flash point, and a bone of contention in places such as Organisation of Islamic Countries. The conflict became a major theme for researchers, of leading human rights organisations, and United Nations office.
Cricketer Gautam Gambhir endorsed genocide of Kashmiris
However, for some Indians the conflict also becomes a reason for inflicting harassment on the common people and for other forms of unbridled hate. Quite recently Gautam Gambhir, an Indian cricketer and BJP politician, publicly endorsed genocide of common Kashmiris. He was the latest individual to join the tally of many Indian journalists, who turned their corporate media offices, into warmongering machines.
Kashmir, nestled in mountains, streams, beautiful valleys, and alpine forests has been renowned for a life of leisure, and largely prosperous livelihood for quite some time. The meadows of Kashmir have become almost synonymous with natural film shooting locations that it provided for movie-makers. Its meadows have been regarded as first choice tourist spots, and a highly desired place for vacation in India.
It has a potential of hosting world-class winter games, off-road racing in the mountains, hosting spectacular golf tournaments and lodging at places where flora and fauna can be experienced in its pristine form.
Maqbool Bhat, a revolutionary who gave a new face to Kashmir struggle during his lifetime and changed the discourse of Kashmir resistance, has been a source for inspiration to innumerable freedom fighters of Kashmir. But after killing of JKLF’s founder Maqbool Bhat, known among his followers as ‘father of the community’ in the early eighties, the destiny of this war-torn valley changed drastically. Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat’s statement about the repercussions of Bhat’s execution became almost prophetic, as Kashmir slipped into a place of insurgency, uprisings, killings, kidnappings, and political vendetta.
This period of prolonged suffocation, of political promises, and betrayals, also became apparent, through vested, and self-serving actions of Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party. At a point in time, it claimed to act, as a referee, between separatist organisations, and New Delhi. In the past, it tried to mobilise the sentiment of a sustained, bilateral resolution, through Indian democratic institutions. Omar Abdullah, leader of Kashmir’s oldest political party, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, accused JKPDP of outright secession.
–– Countercurrents
[Naveed Qazi is the author of ‘The Trader of War Stories’ (2018) and ‘Musings on Global Politics’ (2018).]

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