kashmir peace

The troubled valley of Kashmir, is a place, where seasons of peace, don’t last long. After death of more than hundred thousand people, it has been declared as a war zone, which has its boiling points, that have precipitated, out of its historic phases of insurgency. It is also a valley of mass protests, arising out of conditions, that are ripe for anarchy, and revolution seeking movements. That’s why, it is a problem that remains on peoples lips, for quite some time, repetitively.

Quite lately, everything turned volatile, since the killing of Burhan Wani, in 2016. The anarchic protests, and the mass blinding that happened on the streets, with pellet guns, mainly used against wild animals, had been widely condemned, by nations, activists, writers, politicians, and common people, all over the world. The practice of maiming youth, and injuring the human body, with small metal spheres, was intended to resent any form of challenge, posted against the statist narrative.

The anatomy of a pellet gun, is such, that it causes serious damage to vital organs, of the human body. This practice of mass blinding, was not previously heard, from this part of the world, and the heinous crime went against the UN charter that largely gives impunity to protesters, in a conflict zone.

The renewed political struggle, led by the new generation of Kashmiris, had come, in the shape of Burhan Wani, who managed to galvanise the mass sentiment, and make his death, a reason to bring the local establishment, to its knees. His death resulted like a spark that leads to a volcanic eruption, but at the same time, it also gave a rise to repression, reflecting that Kashmir’s aspirations were at odds, with people, who held the keys of political power. This was something unexpected, considering the party claimed to have caught public imagination, since its inception.

With time, Kashmiris also saw a death of his associates, slowly, but in a calculated manner, involving a lot of military strategy, and police coordination. Wani’s killing resulted in more graves, as he continued to inspire educated, religion loving youth, some even young boys, willing to die for their ideals.

Youth, in black clad and military uniforms, with their AK 47s, routinely appeared with audio tapes, mostly giving sermons, warnings, discussing strategies, and giving threatening remarks, against the Indian state, and its machinery, led by police, the army, and their collaborators.

Due to tipped collaborators, who recruited themselves, or were forced into intelligence operations, through coercion, information about the whereabouts of militants, was passed, and there were a flurry of killings, in the valley. There were myriad encounters, mainly in the countryside, but, the reactions, from militant outfits, came instantly.

Militants started kidnapping policemen, and interrogated them, so that their superiors could restrict their operations, especially against their households, or relatives. Dead bodies were often found, in the jungles, and in homes of random neighbourhoods, including of ordinary women, believed to have collaborated against militants. The women, in Kashmir, are also believed to be couriers of militants. There have been cases, when local police have seized upto twenty grenades and three sixty-five bullets, from nabbed couriers, reflecting a new development.

Political workers, of leading political parties, associating themselves with Indian democratic setup, had been either killed, or attacked, many of which had resulted in failed operations. JKPDP’s Youth President Waheed Rahman Para had claimed that he had escaped unhurt, when he was supposedly attacked, near central Budgam.

There were also cases, where local policemen were killed, in calculated attacks, near police stations. In Achabal area, of south Kashmir, Lashker-e-Taiba, claimed responsibility for killing of six policemen, involved in the killing of their commander, Junaid Matto. In recent times, a BJP youth member had his throat slit by militants, and the picture of his dead body, in the rich apple orchards of Shopian, created waves on Kashmir’s social media. It signified that now independence-seeking people, including radical organisations, were not only fighting against Indian democracy, or its politicians, but it was also a war of a Kashmiri, against a Kashmiri. Incidents, such as Pulwama suicide bomb attack, proved to the world, that the art of al-Qaeda styled Fidayeen attacks had a space in Kashmir, as well. Infact, lonely militants, such as Zakir Musa, who survived on biscuits, associated themselves, with the Islamic State, and even saw a breach of trust, from secessionist organisations, such as All Parties Hurriyat Conference. This violent upbringing that escalated the situation had hurt the social, cultural and spiritual ethos of the valley, but with time, people had to move on, perhaps, waiting for something optimistic to happen, so that sense and resolution would prevail.

As a post reaction, there had been many instances recorded, where common people, often blood relatives, or near relatives complained of police brutality against them, that included night raids, and intensive grilling about the aims of militants, who had suddenly ran away, from their home.

South Kashmir has made the highest tallies of the dead, if we compare the overall conflict scenario, in the valley, in recent memory. For its dwellers, every day was a struggle to endure, both psychological, and physical. Thousands participated in funerals, post killings of these militants. Some militants were even brave enough to deliver public speeches, and raise their guns, high in the sky, amidst processions, and were not afraid to be photographed, and recorded in videos, and broadcasted on YouTube, by mobile phones.

The cries of wailing mothers, orphans, widows, eventually became tantamount, to the conflict repercussions. The massive protests, in south Kashmir, and regular attendance, of thousands, in funerals of militants, carried away by many number of pallbearers, made people question about Indian government’s narrative, brimming on its TV channels.

Turmoil is almost synonymous, with protests, and strikes, in Kashmir. While Indian media, continued to demonise majority of Kashmiris, as enthusiasts of terrorism, the world looked at the conditions of this warzone, differently. Differently, because the valley, and the Jammu and Kashmir State at large, continues to be a nuclear flashpoint, and a bone of contention, in places, such as Organisation of Islamic Countries. The conflict became a major theme for researchers, of leading human rights organisations, and United Nations office.

However, for some Indians, the conflict also becomes a reason for indicting harassments, on its common people, for trolls on social media, and for other forms of unbridled hate. In fact, quite recently, Gautam Gambhir, an Indian cricketer and BJP politician, publicly endorsed genocide of common Kashmiris. He was the latest individual to join the tally of many Indian journalists, who turned their corporate media offices, into warmongering machines, for influencing TRPs, and nationalist whims, among the Indian masses.

Kashmir, nestled in mountains, streams, beautiful valleys, and alpine forests has been renowned for a life of leisure, and largely prosperous livelihood, in this part of the world, for quite some time. The meadows of Kashmir have become almost synonymous, with natural film locales that it provided for moviemakers. It’s meadows have been regarded as first choice tourist spots, and a highly desired place of vacation in India. It has a potential of hosting world-class winter games, off road racings in the mountains, hosting spectacular golf tournaments, and lodging at places, where flora and fauna, of nature, can be experienced, in its pristine form, but after killing of JKLF founder, Maqbool Bhatt, known among his followers, as ‘father of the community’, in the early eighties, the destiny of this war-torn valley changed drastically. In fact, Yasir Arafat’s statement, about the repercussions of his hanging, became almost prophetic, as Kashmir slipped into a place of insurgency, uprisings, killings, kidnappings, and political vendetta.

This period of prolonged suffocation, of political promises, and betrayals, also became apparent, through vested, and self-serving actions of Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party.

Historically, it had been a political party, largely highlighting Jammat e Islami propaganda, even using their political slogan, of a pen and an ink pot. At a point in time, it claimed to act, as a referee, between separatist organisations, and New Delhi. In its past, it tried to mobilise the sentiment of a sustained, bilateral resolution, through Indian democratic institutions. At one point in time, Omar Abdullah, leader of Kashmir’s oldest political party, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference accused JKPDP, of outright secessionism.

The end result, for JKPDP, in the last general election, was not only an improvement, in electoral seats, but also a chance to fulfill the promises, it had given to Kashmiris, and the people of J&K, at large, mainly after JKNC’s era of deep-seated corruption, wanton slaughter, police brutality through SOG, making pro-government gunmen culture through Ikwan and Muslim Mujahideens, and repressing the rights of people. Yes, it was JKNC, and Omar Abdullah, who brought the pellet gun culture, in Kashmir, but it didn’t stop Mehbooba Mufti, in her deliberate double talk, who went ahead, in mind blogging proportions, by justifying the killing of protestors, by the security forces, at one of the press conferences, alongside India’s home minister, Rajnath Singh. This was something unexpected, considering the party claimed to have caught the public imagination, for sympathising with militants, secessionists, and resolution seekers, since its inception.

She passed this questionable comment, despite visiting the homes of militants, condoling their families, even praying at the gravesites of militants, during election campaigns, in her past. Quite recently, she joined the protestors, carrying the casket of a HM militant, Fayaz Ahmad Shah, near Bijbehara, PDPs bastion, in the past, and shedding her crocodile tears.

Despite apologising for her remarks, the political alliance with BJP, designed by Mufti Syed, and Narendra Modi, had received flak, inside the valley. It was dubbed as an ‘unholy alliance’, and a relationship of ‘strange bedfellows’, from day one.

Murtaza Shibli, in an Oped, for Kashmir Reader, wrote: ‘Ever since its existence and more so after it assumed power in the second term, the PDP operated like a ruthless mafia gang; it carried its politics and the governmental work through a certain clandestine order that was connected via blood-links, or caste allegiances.

‘Most of the inner ring of the party was either related to each other or consisted of the mullahs, the traditional clergy class who, in the past, would threaten the gullible masses, with their faux command over religion, and its dishonest interpretation. In the new avatar, they would intimidate people with arrests, incarceration, and attacks through the police and other paramilitary forces. In the process, the JKPDP destroyed the Kashmir police’s image and that of the India’s supposed commitment for peace in the region’.

He further wrote: ‘Mufti’s profile as a political proxy and an opportunistic chancer was impressive, but like any self-seeker, while he was sought after for his intrigues and evil plots, he had no constituency of his own; his real influence was situated within the power corridors of intrigue and not the public. He had been in politics for more than four decades, and made quite a name for himself, both locally and nationally, yet he had no place that he could call his own where he could safely contest an election’.

Kashmir, also, had seen a phase of such brutal crackdowns, during JKPDP’s political command. It had locked Kashmir’s most important mosque, Jamia Masjid, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, for months. Islamic festivities were barred, and the spirit of public was abused. It was something dastardly because JKPDP had started to betray the institutions, that it had claimed to represent, thereby undermining the public anger, which it eventually deserved.

The fall of JKPDP has also given JKPC, and its leader, Sajad Ghani Lone, an ex Hurriyat man, a reason, to entice his voter base, who are looking for a third option, in the Indian democratic setup, in Jammu and Kashmir. One of Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference’s popular leaders, Imran Reza Ansari, an ex-PDP politician, charged Mehbooba Mufti, of being severely incompetent, and transforming the party, into a family fiefdom, much like its archrivals, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, in the past.

The JKPDP-BJP alliance suffered its biggest blow, in its mutual paranoias, when killing of an eminent journalist, Shujaat Bukhari, editor of Rising Kashmir, was shot brutally, in his SUV, by unknown gunmen, just outside his office, during the Islamic month of Ramadhan. BJP, it’s quarrelsome alliance partner, claimed to have lost patience, some days after, and it told the press that it had a stronger reason to leave, due to precarious circumstances, that came after Shujaat’s killing. No organisation has claimed responsibility for his assault, until now.

For separatists, of the APHC, however, nothing has changed, and the tally of the dead has become a source of their inspiration, as they still cling to their basic demand, without any concessions. However, the void for bridging perceptions, and in making settlements, is still there.

In other words, it also means that Kashmir still struggles with its resolution and peace.

Naveed Qazi is the author of The Trader of War Stories (2018) and Musings on Global Politics (2018). His third non-fiction book Reflections on the Changing World (2019) will hit the stands very soon.


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