“Indian Mainstream media never acknowledged Kashmir as a political issue”
Azhar Amim, a student activist from Jawaharlal Nehru University spoke to NOW
1.It is unarguably true that for the plight of Kashmir, both India and Pakistan should be blamed equally. Still, why are those protesting youth waving Pakistani flags?
Ans- The waving of Pakistan’s or ISIS flag is a mere out of frustration and those who wave these flags do it deliberately to irritate Indian forces. In a recent interview to scoop-whoop, some boys of downtown Srinagar (who participate in Friday protest and wave flags) they said, we do all the things that irritate Indian state without having any ideological endorsement with them and this is true for ISIS. Having said that, there is also no denying in the fact that some amount of people have a soft corner for Pakistan and the simple reason for that is, because of the worst form of oppression and atrocities by Indian State (that includes fake encounters, tortures, forced disappearances, rapes, etc) people have developed some love for Pakistan because it has smartly tried to take edge of the situation by giving out statement of solidarities from time to time and since a common person doesn’t understand the broader political interests of Pakistan behind such statements, he thus see Pakistan as a state that really cares about Kashmiris.
2. If Azaadi is the main demand, why not independent Kashmir, free from India as well as Pakistan?
Ans-The broader understanding of Azaadi in Kashmir is a Free Kashmir from Indian as well as Pakistan dominion but still there are certain sections of people who understand Azaadi as accession to Pakistan precisely of the reason I mentioned in the answer to previous question and for this understanding the mainstream Separatist leadership is responsible to a larger extent because they have failed to bring a concrete roadmap for this freedom struggle and they have failed to make people understand the broader dynamics of the politics of the two states of India and Pakistan.
3. Is the current eruption anyway different from earlier protests and movements?
Ans- Yes, it is different from the earlier uprisings because of the simple reason that this time around there is no one leading the protests, Earlier, Separatists used to have a influential say on the people who protest on the roads but this time they don’t have. The sudden killing of Burhan has given this movement a swift thrust and the youths have taken the charge in their hands. They feel betrayed by the separatist leadership for their compromise with Indian government in the past even after the deaths of hundreds of Kashmiris (2010 unrest). So what make this uprising different from earlier one is that, the sentiments of the people regarding Azaadi are more explicit and they don’t seem to retract back on the calls of Separatist. Remember this is the longest continued curfew since 1990s.
4. How do you react to the Indian mainstream media’s coverage of Kashmir crisis?
Ans- The Indian Mainstream media has always been bias on the coverage of Kashmir issue, like the government. They have never acknowledged Kashmir as a political issue but a law and order problem. They have been biased in showing the killings of innocent Kashmiris at the hand of security forces, human rights abuse, etc. Far from being independent, the mainstream media has worked has a tool at the hand of Indian govt. when it came to reporting on Kashmir.
5. What is the role of the Hurriyat leaders in the present crisis?
Ans- The reality is that this time Hurriyat itself is feeling sidelined. Last week when Hurriyat gave “dargah chalo” call, people didn’t pay much heed to it and instead they went for a protest call given by Burhan’s father in North Kashmir. Hurriyat has failed to come up to the expectations of the people and owing to its compromise with the Indian State in past, it has lost its credibility among Kashmiris to some extent.
6. Can a political dialogue smother the present situation now? Or has it reached to a point of no return?
Ans-There seems no possibility of any political dialogue which otherwise can help stabilizing the situation. This is precisely because of the reason that the Indian State is denying to acknowledge the fundamental issue on which the dialogue has to begun i.e. Kashmir is a political issue and it can be solved only when Kashmiris will be made stakeholder of any dialogue process.
Azhar Amim is a Research Scholar at the Centre for West Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He comes from Rajouri, Jammu and Kashmir.