A Year in Kashmir Valley…

The summers in Kashmir Valley are exquisite. While the mercury soars and sweat finds every pore in your body in the other parts of the country, the mid summers in the valley are a travelers’ dream. As one drives past the NH 44, sadly the only artery that connects the valley with the rest of the nation, one wonders why there are so many security forces deployed all along the stretch. A few weeks ago, the NH was in the news for an attack on a SF convoy at Qazigund that resulted in the death of two Army personnel. In another such dreadful strike, the terrorists killed two police personnel and  injured four others leading to jitters and agony amongst the police rank and file. Attacks on CRPF camps, JKP personnel and political leaders have become a regular phenomenon in the valley. The security forces have been quite successful in eliminating a number of terrorist masterminds, but the irony lies in the fact that for every elimination there is a new recruit to take the vacant place and fit into the shoes. One of the biggest challenge to the Kashmir planners and observers is to find  methods to prevent recruitment into terrorist tanzeems.

Violence in Kashmir now spans into the third decade, generations of Kashmiris have lived their life in turmoil. If one takes the ‘conflict’ out of the equation, the place is bestowed with all the natural beauty that makes it a paradise on earth. Be it the snow-capped mountains, the pristine rivers, the unending greenery as a result of fertile soil, the Valley presents you with unimaginable tranquility and an air of serenity, that makes one fall in love with the place over and over again. But it is the violence that makes this Paradise,  a Hell on earth.

So what and how can one do to put an end to this violence? what prevents peace in the valley? Is it that the people are so used to violence and turmoil that they embrace it unknowingly? or are there vested interest that is in play to keep this place burning? who are Separatist and are they a big clout in Kashmir affairs? how does a handful of terrorist keep the SF on their toes? is the state of affairs beyond redemption? these are some of the questions that pop to those in other parts of the country and probably to some foreign thinkers. The fact is that Kashmir is at a ‘New Normal’. It is one of the states wherein a new narrative is sprung to purpose for every new situation. To some it is the PDP-BJP alliance, for some it is the special status of Jammu and Kashmir,  while some pursue Khilafat as a new narrative, some are wary of alleged Saffronisation of rest of India. Inspite of being a failed state, to some unification with Pakistan enthralls while some are fascinated by the very idea of Azadi or Freedom.

As the first anniversary of the slain terrorist Burhan Wani is fast approaching, Kashmir valley over the last one year has seen it all. Actually, the elimination of Burhan Wani was a trigger that set forth into motion a series of incidents that got triggered one after another which came to be known popularly as the Third Intifida. By end August 2016, it was no-more Burhan Wani who kept the agitations on, it was the civilian deaths, the pellet injury and the Kashmiri media that kept the agitations alive. Beginning November, it was only the Kashmiri media which frenzied over the post Burhan agitations, while the Kashmiri people was exhausted with continuous bandh calls and protest calendars.  I completely pity with the Kashmiri people. They have gone through great difficulties ever since the partition of India. I often wonder whether any other nation-state in the world has been subjected to a conflict of the dimension as being witnessed in Kashmir. The conflict has affected the very fabric of the society, while the older generation is caught between being loyal to the SF and fear of the terrorists, the youth has been influenced and brainwashed by the Jamaat-Hurriyat combo.

An average Kashmiri youth who has witnessed the agitation of 2008,2010, minor agitations of 2012, floods of 2014 and the 2016 Intifida cannot be expected to score 90 percentage in his board exams. He/she has missed school and mass promoted twice. Furthermore, most of them pick and throw stones at the age of 8-10 years, some snatch a weapon or lob a grenade at the age of 14-15 and join a terrorist tanzeem. As he completes his teen, he would have by then attacked a SF convoy or camp and registered by Police for terror activities. When he turns 20 years, he is categorized as a terror mastermind and declared as the area or district commander of a terror tanzeem. After a few more atrocities, he winds up in a cordon and is eliminated in few hours. Thus ends the life of a youth who, if educated and guided well, could have turned out to be a successful engineer, doctor or an entrepreneur. Many youth in the valley are carried away in the name of Azadi, Khilafat, Shahadat etc. Many schools in the valley are modeled on Islamic education and radical Islamic thoughts are prevalent in the Madrassahs. Though Wahabi or Salafist ideology doesn’t seems to have established credentials, but the anti- India/ pro-Pakistan/Azadi preachings finds its way into the Mosques in the Valley.

A youth wakes up in the morning in Shupiyan town in South Kashmir, goes to a Madrassah and gets educated on Shadahat and Shariah, heads to his Islamic model school where he discusses Syria and Afghanistan, during lunch views videos on Khilafat by Zakir Musa, Terrorist Commander, heads to a Mosque where anti-India/ Azadi preaching is a norm. By evening, he along with his friends pelt stones on SF deployed at the town center and gets home. How can you expect this youth to do well in his life when we don’t give him a conducive environment to develop?

The national media also doesn’t seems to help the cause. By highlighting Kashmir as an abnormal or conflict ridden state, the domestic and international tourist flow has reduced to an abysmal levels. This has badly affected the state whose people depend their tourism for a livelihood, Kashmirs’ loss is Himachals’ gain. The national media needs to become more responsible over their reporting on Kashmir. It is not that bad as it is shown across the News channels. Actually, barring a few sporadic incidents normalcy is prevalent in the valley. In the valley they say opening of Shops, Schools and plying of Sumos(cabs) indicate normalcy and they are very much functioning. Moreover the visit to Amarnath Shrine ahead of Pahalgam is gaining momentum.  Thus, Kashmir is slowly but steadily trickling back to normalcy with sporadic incidents albeit the New Normal…

9 thoughts on “A Year in Kashmir Valley…

  1. Great work!

    Would love to hear your thoughts on what could be done to accelerate the Sprint to a better normal from the new normal

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  2. A very well written piece. Congratulations. Expecting many more from your keyboard.

    I visited the valley in April 2017 during the Easter weekend as a civilian tourist, travelling by a taxi, who stopped in the heart of Baramulla and Sopore towns and had Tea at the tea-shop, discussed the current situation with the local people, and also declared to them openly that I retired from the Indian Army and had served at the very same location from 1987 to 1990 – when the so called Jihadi movement had commenced.

    One got to fully endorse your views on the subject, even though many not agree.

    The state need to work and progress as a democratic state and not as a military state. The need is to win the hearts and mind of population and it can never be done through force or by any military action. The prime aspect of government administration over the years has been rampant corruption which still continues unabated. The youth of Kashmir is not raising their voice against such corruption as it has a ‘Muslim’ face today, where earlier it had a ‘Hindu’ or ‘Kashmiri Pundit’ face. The volume of money that the centre government has over the decades ploughed into J&K, had even a portion of it reached the common man, the situation would never have been as of today.

    The need today is to “Educate”, “Employ” and “Empower”.

    The sight of various schools – both governmental and private – would make an observer feel that much more got to be done to get the students somewhere near the national level. There is hardly any employment opportunity – HMT is closed so is the Match Factory at Baramulla. If the youth have employment, they will neither have time nor need to throw stones at the government forces. Empowerment, especially of the youth, to form organisations, to represent their views, to showcase their dreams will go a long way in reducing tensions in the valley. Remember the Assam Students agitation.

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  3. Well written, Sarish. Coming from someone who has been posted there for a year now,all the information is first hand. Thank you for the positive note in the end.
    It is relieving. Sharing it.

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  4. “A society is what it is because it’s citizen are what they are.” Plato

    Well written bro.

    The tendency of general population to manipulate the complex issues into simple three part narrative has given rise to vote bank politics, which in turn has given the men in power to fuel the emotional energy in order to retain power.

    It is the dog chasing his tail scenario.

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  5. Well written…. straight from the heart of a countryman for his fellow countrymen…..whose future is being held at ransom by a few misguided people….all the best

    Like

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