Kashmir Valley is once again on the boil. The reason is simple. Continued spell of peace and normalcy does not suit the narrative of the separatists as well as the regional parties. Of late, they all are on the common page and are working together for their mutual benefit as they feel that their future is threatened. “Boycott politics” which so far was the sole preserve of the terrorists has now been embraced by the regional parties as well.
Peaceful conduct of Urban Local Bodies elections despite the best efforts of the regional parties to subvert them has sent shock waves across their spine and left those dumb founded. Feeling the loss of turf beneath their feet, they were looking for an opportunity to reverse the trend and put Kashmir once again on the boil. The “Kulgam Incident” was seized by them as an opportunity though it is totally unjustified. The said incident as has been stated by none other than the state’s Director General of Police to be unfortunate but a case of deliberate negligence by those who rushed to the ground zero even before the area was sanitised by the local police. But the self-seeker leaders of Kashmir lost no time in projecting ‘civilian deaths’ as ‘civilian killings’ to add fuel to fire and also provide fodder to anti-national forces to drum it as “human rights violation.”
How can civilian deaths due to utter self-negligence be termed as “civilian killings” blaming the security forces for the same? To the contrary, the security forces personnel put their own lives in danger to prevent co-lateral damage and avoid civilian casualties. Rather than appreciating the security forces for their concern, the Kashmiri leaders lost no time in portraying them as villains and speaking in tandem with pro-Pakistani and separatist forces operating in the Valley. It was also not surprising that no time was lost by dummy Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, in raising his voice and he tweeted, “Strongly condemn the new cycle of killings of innocent Kashmiris in IOK by Indian security forces. It is time India realised it must move to resolve the Kashmir dispute through dialogue in accordance with the UN SC resolutions & the wishes of the Kashmiri people.”
No Kashmiri leader, however, condemned Pakistan for unleashing terror in the Valley leading to bloodshed and regular killing of innocent Kashmiris by terrorists belonging to Imran Khan’s country. Pakistan which has the worst human rights track in the world is the darling of the Valley leaders ignoring the fact that their own brethren in the Pakistan Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (POJK) cry hoarse 24×7 against the worst kind of state sponsored violence unleashed on them. Unfortunately, people in Kashmir, misguided by the vested elements, have stopped to distinguish between the destroyer and the saviour.
Soon thereafter, another non-issue was also grabbed by the discarded Kashmiri leaders in a bid to further spoil the atmosphere. The issue pertained to an advisory issued by the Education Department to “consider purchasing sufficient number of copies each of Urdu version of “Shrimad Bhagwat-Geeta” and “Koshur Ramayana”, authored by Shri SarwanandPremi for making these available in Schools/Colleges and public libraries etc of the State.”
A good-intentioned circular was converted into a communal issue when Omar Abdullah, a former Chief Minister, tweeted, “Why just the Gita & Ramayana? If religious texts are to be placed in schools, colleges & government libraries (and I’m not convinced that they need/should be) then why is it being done selectively? Why are other religions being ignored?” The tendency of the Kashmiri leaders to give a communal touch to those decisions of the governmentwhich they perceive to be anti-Kashmiri, irrespective of the sentiments of the rest of the state’s populace, is not new. The surest way to stall such initiatives is to give it a communal touch. The list is endless and includes important issues like citizenship to West Pakistan refugees, honourable and dignified return of Kashmiri Pandit community, issuance of Dogra Certificate, extradition of Rohangiyas and Bangladeshis, demand of CBI investigation for Rasana Rape Murder case, Establishment of Sainik Colonies in Kashmir, discrimination against Jammu &Ladakh.
Urdu which once used to be lingua franca, of late is being portrayed as the language exclusively of Muslims. This tendency is very harmful and will damage the social fabric in the state because it also happens to be the official language of the state. Urdu version of the Hindu holy- scriptures which enjoy universal acceptance as magnum opus of behavioural and spiritual knowledge was not necessarily meant to be read by the Muslims only but also by Hindus and Sikhs who preferred Urdu as their first language. In any case, the circular did not mention anything about not buying other religious books whose Urdu version is also available. Omar Abdullah presumed too much to give the whole issue a communal touch.
Unfortunately, the administration buckled under the pressure and cancelled the circular thus strengthening the hands of communal forces. It would have been better if the administration would have stuck to its decision and delivered another big blow to the already sullying Kashmiri leaders who were sulking after the administration refused to fall prey to their time-tested formula of “Blackmail Politics”and went ahead to conduct the local bodies and panchayat elections.
The advocates of Kashmir being a “political issue” are neither realists nor idealists. They live in a utopian world and sell false hopes and dreams to innocent Kashmiris. They use the Kashmiris as cannon fodder for their own political gains. They fully know and realise that neither Azadi nor Greater Autonomy or Self-Rule will ever see the light of the day. Yet, they keep feeding these narratives to Kashmiris which alienates them from rest of the nation creating a divide between the Kashmiris and others. While they continue to fill their coffers with money and provide luxurious life and modern education to their kith and kin, the common Kashmiri is pushed towards “gun culture” and radical madrassa education.
While the disillusioned Kashmiris look up to these leaders for their bright future but they keep pushing them into gullies of darkness through bundles of false hopes and promises. The day these power brokers also start speaking the truth and accept the reality of Jammu & Kashmir being an integral part of India as enshrined in the State’s constitution, and convince the Kashmiris that all forms of struggle against the might of the nation are futile, the problems will cease to exist. It would be naive to expect that it would happen overnight but a sustained effort to change the mind-set would be needed.
Kashmir today is a victim of radicalisation and numerous socio-economic issues. The vibrant multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic, multi-religious and multi-cultural Kashmiri society has turned into a monotonous monolith. The root cause for this is the greed for power of the power brokers. The zenith of this greed was the rigged elections in the state in 1987.
Disenchanted and disgruntled by the petty political games played to remain in power, the youth revolted. Pakistan which always cast an evil eye on the peaceful Kashmir lost no opportunity to fish in the troubled waters and launched the so-called “Religious Militancy” in Kashmir. It soon turned into a full- fledged Pak sponsored proxy-war with cross-border terrorism as its main weapon. With the introduction of Wahabbi Islam, bewildered youth, fed up with repeated “Vada Khilafi” (broken promises) got attracted towards religion. Gradually, the Kashmiri society is shedding “Sufism” and getting radicalised under the growing influence of “Wahhabism”.
Pakistan ever since has not changed its stance and in fact upped the ante in order to re-locate the terrorists from its own soil into Kashmir with the hope of winning over the Kashmiris by helping them in their struggle. Unfortunately, the regional parties also use the Pakistan card to boost their political fortunes in the quagmire of Kashmiri politics which unfortunately have also been radicalised with a very few nationalist voices still surviving.
The terrorism in Kashmir is no more confined to those seeking “Azadi.” One has to admit that terrorism in Kashmir today is driven by the ambition of creating Nizam-e-Mustaffa or an exclusive Muslim state governed by Sharia. Regional parties have remained ambiguous on the subject thus adding to the confusion in the minds of the youth and rural society in Kashmir. By remaining ambivalent, the regional parties want to retain the option of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds.
If the regional parties remain embedded in the past, surrender the present to radicalisation and continue to ignore the future of Kashmiri awam, nothing fruitful can happen. The regional parties and their leaders have to shed their negativity as self-seekers and power brokers. These need to emerge as genuine voices of the Kashmiris who are fed up of “senseless violence” and are yearning for peace. The regional parties need to play a positive role and become torch-bearers of change in Kashmir.