India always runs away from realities in Kashmir
Sajad Rasool in Budgam (Jammu & Kashmir)
Once again the Valley of Kashmir is witnessing a bloody season; more Kashmiris are falling prey to the bullets of Indian Security forces – we see people once again on the roads, protesting, demanding their political identity from the (which they call) ‘Occupier’. Curfew, restrictions have entered 45th consecutive day. This time the uprising against the Indian state had a very different beginning – the face of the ‘Revised Militancy’ was changed by the youth this time, who was humiliated by the Indian forces when he was a student of class 10. Most of the youth in Kashmir have faced similar kind of humiliations at the Hands of India; India for them is an armed person with an AK 47 slinging on his shoulder entering their homes with his boots on, abusing women folk and torturing young men.
A man who has been licensed to kill, detain anyone on mere suspicion, occupies lands and schools. This young boy joined the militant ranks at a time when the sympathy and support from the Base camp (Pakistan) of militancy had gone down to a very large extent. He did not cross over to the Line of Control for arms training, and was not what we in Kashmir call a Pak Trained militant. He was a home grown boy, who for the first time removed the mask from his face and openly challenged the establishment on social media. Here began a new era of militancy which paved way for a renewed resistance movement against the Indian state. He now became an open threat to the state. A new phenomenon broke out in the shape of ‘Burhan Wani’. He soon became the hero for hundreds of such youth who have grown under the shadow of gun and had faced the brunt of occupation. Every second mobile phone user would have his photos and videos. Burhan is dead – more than 2 lakh people from all corners of the valley came to join his funeral.
As killings started and continued, the protests kept spreading across the rural and urban areas of Kashmir. 69 civilians have been already shot dead by the Government forces and more than 6000 people have received injuries. More than 300 people are injured by pellets. People are caged under curfew during the day time, as soon it is lifted in the evening people march towards streets and observe demonstrations, candlelight protests. People at most of the places are seen offering daytime prayers on the roads. Pro-freedom, anti India slogans are heard. Pro Azadi songs are played on loudspeakers in most of the localities. The Indian state is not moving an inch by the ongoing turmoil across the valley of Kashmir; it has been maintaining the same old rhetoric of ‘integral part’ and ‘Pakistani conspiracy’ which adds fuel to the fire.
India has been maintaining that the problem in Kashmir is its internal issue, however the case is different. Kashmir remains a disputed territory, the future of which is yet to be decided and it is Kashmiris themselves who have to have a say when it comes to their political identity and future. On the other hand, when we talk of Indian Media, some TV channels had few debates and discussions for a couple of days in the beginning of the unrest and now the issue remains untouched in the cozy air conditioned studios and newsrooms. Some news channels anguished over the common people who take to streets in support of the slain HM commander Burhan Wani, who is a ‘Hero’ for almost all. Most of the markets in Kashmir reflect the wall writings like, ‘Burhan is our Hero’, ‘Burhan Chowk’, ‘Long live Burhan’ etc. written by youth. Such is the depth of inclination towards the idea of ‘Azaadi’ among the young generation. As unrest breaks out in Kashmir valley, the first thing Indian state does is blocking all mediums of communication which includes mobile phones and Internet, followed by the arrest of pro freedom political leaders and arrests those who participate in anti India demonstrations.
I happened to visit a few places in Budgam where 2 young men were shot dead by Indian forces on 5th of August after widespread protests erupted in central Kashmir. “Sameer is a martyr of a just cause and I am proud of my son,” these were the words of the slain boy’s father, Noor Muhammad Wani. The angry youth of this village of Khansahib area do not expect any sort of justice but believe that the only way out is to fight for ‘Azaadi’ on roads or by picking up Gun. Hundreds of youth today are ready to join militant groups in Kashmir, as all the time they have not been heard by the State of India. India has always been running away from the realities when it comes to Kashmir. India has time and again declined to recognize the Kashmir dispute and will hardly do anything to resolve it. The reason for the popular support towards the young boys joining militant ranks is the repetition of 1990’s period. There could be various other factors which are strengthening the anti India mood in Kashmir valley, like establishment of Sainik colonies, separate townships for Pandits, PDP’s alliance with the Rightwing. The solution of Kashmir issue lies not in development, more employment opportunities for youth, setting up of factories and industries – it actually lies in the realization and acceptance of the facts, promises and the history itself. The anguish, creation of more Burhans will see no end in the near future. The anti India sentiment will keep on strengthening day by day. That is what the future seems to be so far now.
Sajad Rasool is a freelance journalist based in Budgam (Jammu &Kashmir). The views expressed here are personal.