While the summer season in India has begun to fade in Kashmir the pot has been kept simmering relentlessly. The disregard and callousness shown by Indian establishment towards the disputed nature of the conflict means there is no abatement in violence. The uprising now into its third month has seen unrelenting protests, curfews, shutdowns, and killings become a new norm. The role of state government which is an extended arm of Indian establishment, after adopting the policy of wait and watch, is now at the forefront trying hard to crush the movement.
The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), good at using deceptive tactics like party symbols and ‘soft separatism’, has now run out of options. It cannot use these old tactics to befool the masses which also point out that it has to show its true colour: that of Delhi stooge in Kashmir. By making ‘toffee’ and ‘milk’ statements would put even Machiavelli to shame and by blaming the protestors only shows her lust for power. In a more nuanced understanding it means that she is blaming the protestors for creating hurdles to her throne and not genuinely concerned for the solution.
The rabble rousing from National Conference is mere theatrics and a role change. They are doing what PDP used to do earlier (for example in 2010 uprising) with script already written in New Delhi. Moreover, the Hindu nationalist government headed by Narendra Modi remains unfazed by the violence and continue to neglect the issue by making the old rhetorical claim that Kashmir is India’s integral part. Subsequently, it took Modi almost one month to utter few words for the ‘beloved’ Kashmiris. But then at the same time to show the ‘love’ for the people of Kashmir, a consignment of 6.3 crore pellets was approved to maim and blind the people who are raising the voice against Indian occupation.
India’s bullish attitude towards Kashmir reminds me of a cricket batsman who after failing to hit the ball for a six gets caught at the boundary, bullies the opposition, and pronounces that the only condition he will accept the decision of ‘out’ if he is given six runs as well. India knows well that it has lost the battle in Kashmir but through excessive coercion it is projecting to the world that Kashmir is her integral part. Here, a major point comes to fore that India’s Kashmir policy is militaristic in nature and continuously addressed the Kashmir issue militarily and continues to remain in denial over the disputed nature. Blaming Pakistan for almost every trouble India is only trying to hoodwink its people and discredit the indigenous struggle started by Kashmiris. The truth is that the lingering issue will only prolong but never die.
This time neither the people nor the Hurriyat leadership wants to makes any concession. The resolve is firm that India has to accept the genuine demands as put forward by the people through Hurriyat. With most of the pro-freedom leadership put behind the bars, its refusal to talk to the parliamentary delegation deputed to defuse the crisis, is being hailed as a bold move. But there seems more to it than what meets the eye. Riding on the unprecedented public support the unity in the Hurriyat is a welcome step but what becomes important is whether they can deliver now. What needs to be seen is what Hurriyat’s alternative strategies are? Have they something concrete at hand or their strategy is public driven and are playing it safe? Does it mean that Mirwaiz Farooq and Yasin Malik by endorsing SAS Geelani are trying to shift their part of blame knowing that there is no end in sight? Or is this that fearing public backlash Hurriyat leaders choose to stay away from any dialogue? Although this practice of dialogue has not yielded anything substantial and most of the times people think of it as a betrayal or sell-out yet one camp has always emphasised the need for dialogue. With the present uprising garnering the mass support and general perception among the masses is that they have sacrificed enough and they are ready to suffer more if it means putting an end to their plight of living under occupation, these are the testing times for the pro-freedom leadership. People really can’t afford repeated failures.
Living in a closed society it is always difficult to ask questions which counter the popular narratives and discourses as it could earn you a tag of a collaborator. One should never be shy of braving these threats if we truly care for people, however. While the truth is that every movement has its phases of ebbs and crests same holds true for the present uprising. If tomorrow, due to any untoward incident, this uprising subsides, people should not feel disheartened as the cherished goal of freedom can’t be achieved in a months’ time. What matters is resistance and refusal to fall into the traps laid by India.
On the other hand, India has been resorting to what Karl Popper calls “an incremental change to mitigate the discontent”, but that will always prove ineffective unless they accept it as a political problem and stop bragging about the solution within the oft repeated cliché of insaaniyat, jamhooriyat and kashmiriyat.
(Adil Beig is a research scholar at the department of political science, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. If you wish to contribute to our opinion section, send your writings to firstname.lastname@example.org)