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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 6 New Delhi January 26, 2019 - Republic Day Special

The Blood-soaked Kashmir

Whether snow or shine, here it is raining bullets and pellets with abandon

Monday 28 January 2019

by M.A. Sofi

Conflict, they say, is the continuation of state policies by other means. Which is why attempts shall continue to be made by the state institutions to ignite passions between castes and communities, on the one hand, and to scuttle the prospects for the resolution of conflicts both within the country and without, on the other. What the people of this country have gone through over the past close to five years, it is becoming increasingly clear that in the tool kit of the BJP involving governance and electoral politics, there surely is no room for honesty and fair play. An idea of its manipulative manoeuvrings may be had from a whole lot of tricks it has put in place that it thinks would deliver for it at the hustings, even as it is part of common sense that each of these tactics is devious in intent and so would cause more harm than good to the ‘Nation’. And this penchant for manufacturing tricks has been perfected as an art when it comes to playing ball in Kashmir. After all, the manner in which politics is practised in mainland India does have a bearing on the situation in Kashmir. A string of brutal acts of mob violence in different parts of the country has been an obvious consequence of this regime of intolerance which is being replicated in the Kashmir Valley to devastating effect where the latest acts of state brutalities are now being witnessed in the form of killing of peaceful protestors and of torching their crops and properties.

Witness the act of reducing democracy to a joke by the foisting of the ULB and Panchayat elections held recently in the J&K State, even as the mainstream political parties had boycotted these elections, resulting in not more than a measly average of 7 per cent voter turnout! It is reasonable to contend that the people of India would have been better off without the tedium of having to go through the rigmarole of elections which have now come to dominate their lives for the better part of the year.

All the same, elections or no elections, Kashmir would still have continued to reel under uncertainty, turmoil and violence. The unprecedented dance of death being witnessed here day in and day out ought to be seen in that context. This follows as an obvious corollary to the brand of national politics that is being played to perfection by the votaries of death and destruction masquerading as netas of this ‘great democracy’. Their plans to continue with this policy of musclemanship in Kashmir would mean that we in Kashmir shall have to bear the brunt of their dirty gameplan in the run up to 2019. This is sought to be achieved by unleashing a fresh reign of terror upon the hapless punching bags in Kashmir as a ploy which sadly has takers amongst vast sections of the Indian electorate, including the educated ones. It is not for nothing that there are voices heard across the board advocating benevolent dictatorship in preference over the so-called ‘secular/liberal democracy’ that we in Kashmir have experienced since 1947, but essentially as a ruthless, repressive autocracy. In the circumstances, what would one do other than pray for the grace and mercy of God in these times of extreme despair and hopelessness.

In the light of these developments, and it doesn’t take string theory to understand, that the GOI’s policy in Kashmir has been a spectacular failure. One can’t help having the most serious reservations about the wisdom of the policy pundits providing the kind of advice to those in charge of Kashmir affairs that is doomed to be counterproductive in the long run. There are those who say that Kashmir is teetering on the edge because of India’s muscular (read masculine) approach towards Kashmir and Kashmiris. The situation is far worse than that, actually. The ineluctable fact, however, remains that India is fast losing its case in Kashmir because of its approach which, to the contrary, is effeminate, unmanly and ineffective. Witness the unconscionably disproportionate use of force and firepower against those who are for the most part untrained, ill-equipped and unwilling to engage with the mighty Indian security system and are thus in no position to pose a threat to the country called India. On the contrary, a more sensible, brave and courageous policy on the part of India would have entailed large heartedness on its part by way of reining in its propensity to resort to overkill involving those who may have a genuine grouse with the way Kashmir is being handled by the Indian political establishment in concert with its deep state. Engaging meaningfully with those who are at best rebellious against the way India has been treating Kashmir and its inhabitants, right since 1947—and more so after 1989—would have qualified India’s approach to Kashmir as genuine, humane and empathic defined by patience, accommodation and large heartedness. Bringing in a large contingent of security personnel equipped with the most sophisticated war machinery and firepower to take on an untrained and innocuous rebel here or a couple of them holed up inside a house there and celebrating the gunning down of these hapless individuals and destroying their hearth and homes without even confronting reasonable resistance from the latter not only amounts to spinelessness on their part but constitutes a war crime according to the international law. That to me qualifies as an approach that is typically timid, cowardly and lacking in grace,

as opposed to an approach which is made out to be muscular! After all, what kind of bravery is this where you go out to kill a fly using a rocket launcher!

HAVING said that, it is pertinent to draw attention to some genuine concerns in the form of gratuitous remarks that I feel constrained to proffer to the Resistance Leadership which, I should stress, are also shared by a vast section of the Kashmiri society who feel duly concerned by the dance of death and destruction having been let loose in Kashmir. The fact that the leadership has been steadfast in its mission to see an end to the forced occupation of our land by those who had pledged a life of honour and dignity by granting to us the right of self- determination is beyond doubt and indeed commendable. Also to be taken note of are the huge sacrifices which they have offered, and continue to offer, as have in no small measure the people of Kashmir who they represent, towards the realisation of the dream of a free, peaceful and violence-free Kashmir.

Be that as it may, the fact that stares us in the eye pertains to the act of providing leadership that entails certain responsibilities which our leadership is supposed to wake up to and shoulder in the spirit of and for the survival of the movement. However, the kind of circumstances having been thrust upon us in the Valley, which obviously are not entirely of our making, have led to a situation where our young boys are forced to react and made to walk into the trap laid out for them by our enemies. Surely, nothing suits the gameplan of our oppressors more than the willingness of our young boys to throw themselves to the wolves, as it were, never to return again. This happens primarily because, as stated above, these young boys are untrained, illequipped non-combatants who are sought to be engaged in an ‘armed encounter’ by the trigger happy security personnel and whose martyrdom is used to sell as a victory against the ‘enemies of the country’. Precisely for this reason, it devolves upon the Resistance Camp to realise that the onus of responsibility is upon its leaders that requires them not to gloat over the loss of lives of our youth who thus get involved in an asymmetrical face-off with the security forces, only to be consumed in their dozens every single week. No doubt, our young boys may, and do have reasons to stand up and confront the monster for what they perceive as the latter’s intransigence and its disproportionate use of firepower against them for the mere act of voicing their solidarity with the cause of a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir issue. But the realisation that in doing so, they don’t even cause a sneeze in the enemy camp is something that needs to be taken on board, at least by the Hurriyat leadership whose heart must surely bleed as does the heart of every single Kashmiri on this massive loss of human life in Kashmir. Of course, it is both necessary and natural to reach out to them in support and solidarity, but equally necessary to stop short of heaping fulsome praises in support of such ‘acts of valour’ by our youth. Else, they would continue to be drawn towards this death hole in their legions. Waking up to our collective responsibilities would at least help us save our youth from the curse of playing into the hands of those who are too happy to see them being pushed into the black hole of armed confron-tation from where they know, they would never emerge. This is the time to act, or else our Gen Next is destined to be eaten away by this monster, without the slightest promise of tangible returns coming our way.

Last but not the least, the redeeming thought, though is that as long as the people of Kashmir

and their (genuine) leadership realise this and are seen to be on the same page on such and

similar other issues of vital importance involving the present situation and future of Kashmir, there indeed is not much to worry about. On the other hand, those who believe in the use of lethal force to quell dissent as an instrument of the state doctrine shall have to shed their belligerent mindset and do their bit to facilitate the process of rapprochement by allowing the much elusive peace and tranquillity to return to what has been turned into a killing field by their intransigence. Despite reasons to the contrary, one can only hope and pray that the New Year heralds a fresh breeze of air and the dawn of a new beginning in Kashmir.

Prof M.A. Sofi is a Professor Emeritus, Department of Mathematics, Kashmir University, Srinagar. He can be contacted at e-mail: aminsofi[at]

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