New signposts of an unknown journey

Mehmoo Ur Rashid

Violence never left Kashmir since 1990. It underwent multiple changes. But 2016 announced the arrival of a new phase of violence. According to the commentator, incorporating opinion on Jammu and Kashmir, the core content of politics of conflict was transmitted to next generation and violence was bound to re-appear in newer forms. The forms could be dependent upon Kashmir’s internal political dynamic, international atmosphere and relationship between India and Pakistan. On all these counts nothing happened that could keep violence at bay. The result has been seen by all, more and more coffins and graveyards.



Unabated Violence:


“No conflict is a linear journey. On different variables, conflict moves in different directions, and at varied pace. From an extremely stormy phase it can take a turn towards calm, and vice versa. But each phase brings up its own consequences, and those consequences inform the journey ahead. Right now Kashmir is dangerously placed on a cliff, down there is a raging sea of violence.  How did Kashmir reach this point? Why violence returned to Kashmir so suddenly, on this scale, and in dramatically different patterns? The answer to this question begins with a retort: when did violence leave Kashmir! For all these decades, beginning 1990s, if there was one thing stuffed into each crevice of this land, it’s violence; without a minute’s break this blood and guts cultivation is going on. What happens now is what could have happened only.  Seeds breaking the shell, knocking open the surface, and ‘suddenly’ we have a harvest to reap. This latest turn to violence, nevertheless, has its own visual description. An imagery that makes it more frightening.  For the news fed world, it started with that lovely face of a little boy, who was force-fed violence like a nipper. Burhan Wani epitomised the deep cultivation of violence in Kashmir over many decades. When he was killed Kashmir burst like never before. 2016 announced the arrival of a new phase of violence. When gun wielding boys started making appearances at public rallies, the images of 1990 were resurrected. Since then fresh blood is streaming into militant groups like a steady trickle. Every now and then there is a news story about one or the other boy gone missing, appearing on social media with a gun attached to his body, and then some weeks later another coffin draped in green, carried on a million shoulders, enters the album of violence as an unforgettable image. Each death invites more lives to this extremely short-lived experience. But all of this didn’t happen overnight”.


Transmission of Violence:


“Probing the current upsurge in armed militancy demands a peek further into the past. Towards the end of 1990s when the armed militancy was decisively exhausted of its core energy, none thought it would one day return this way. Though armed militancy in Kashmir never turned completely absent, it has its own lows and highs. From the mid 1990s it underwent multiple changes. Prominent militant leaders were killed, and entire organisations were wiped out in military operations. The repression faced by Kashmiris all these years because of the militarised atmosphere, and also as a result of total reliance on military means to control a dissenting population, by the state, was something beyond human endurance. This engendered serious anxieties in the Kashmiri society. Some silent changes happened. Kashmir, as a society, started recovering itself. The political energies inherently present underwent a soundless process of gathering. But this transformation carried with it all the memories of 1990s. An entire crop of politically informed activists, most of whom had turned into militant commanders, travelled to the next generation as memorials. The major events of violence, like Handwara, Maisuma, Zakoora, and Bijbehara served as annual reminders. The core content of the Politics of Resistance, either from the political history of this conflict or the prevalent religious narrative in the Muslim societies, was transmitted to the next generation without any loss. In fact the decade of 1990s added a live experience to all this. This was bound to re-appear in newer forms. What those forms could be depended on Kashmir’s own internal political dynamic, the international atmosphere, the changes in the Muslim world, and, of course, the relationship between India and Pakistan. On all these counts, nothing happened that could keep violence at a bay. Instead each single thread proactively contributed to violence. Kashmir’s internal politics turned weaker by the day. One the one hand, Mufti Sayeed led PDP slaughtered Kashmir’s political self in the most brutal way, faithfully following the footsteps of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. On the other, Hurriyat Conference proved pathetically incapable of providing any political leadership. The international atmosphere was marked by things like Syria, a dangerous word even to whisper in Kashmir. The Muslim world, as usual is faced with intellectual bankruptcy in terms of dealing with the question of violence and politics. Some fresh voices that can be heard are too feeble to make an impact any time soon. Add to it the vicious campaign unleashed by the traditional religiosity, and also by the champions of Islamism, against such saner and scholarly voices. And the last ingredient, Indo-Pak relations. Right now, less said the better”.


Sign Posts for Conflict:


“The result of this is for all to see. Young boys, one after another lowered in graves. In twos, threes, and sometimes dozens, Kashmir carries coffins of its own future.  Right now there are only two kinds of people in Kashmir. One, who carry the arms. Two, who carry the coffins. It’s a small group, teens and twentyish, an inconsequential lot in terms of challenge to the military grip of India, but the images they create are better understood when people in thousands carry these coffins to graveyards. These graves are becoming the signposts of an unknown journey for Kashmir conflict. Armed militancy in Kashmir is a manifestation of a deeper contradiction thrust on the political-self of Kashmir. Whenever this contradiction comes to a head, there is a surge in violence. A long term, uninterruptible, political initiative based on an unhindered acceptance of the political realities of Kashmir is the only way violence can be contained in Kashmir. The rhetorical lines that ‘Kashmiri youth are alienated’, ‘sky is the limit’, ‘economic packages’, ‘democracy and secularism’ – this all is an expired coinage in Kashmir. Also, the narrative of resistance that mixes religion and politics furiously in one large cauldron of violence is singularly ensuring the death of politics in Kashmir. More than anything else Kashmir’s Muslim society needs someone who can salvage it from this danger”.


[Courtesy: Daily Greater Kashmir, Srinagar, Kashmir, June 30, 2018].


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