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Kashmir—a case beyond militancy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi used his full energy, on Sunday, to project Kashmir merely a case of militancy. Addressing a gathering of selected audience at SKICC in Srinagar, he said that his government was committed to ‘break the back” of militancy in Kashmir. “My government will fight militancy with full might and give a befitting response to every militant”, he told the gathering. The Prime Minister was on a daylong visit to all three regions of J&K to inaugurate or lay foundation of several developmental projects. Prime Minister was also elective in condemning the killing of civilians by militants but remained silent on killing of civilians by security forces. “The entire country is angry over the killing of innocent people in Kashmir. These boys and girls were killed because they wanted peace and wished to live,” he said while referring to the killing of civilians by militants. One does not know whether this is Prime Minister’s feigned ignorance or the exact realization and understanding of the situation in Kashmir. However, whatever the truth, it exhibits, both, the erroneous reading and arrogant approach. One does not need to be extraordinary genius to understand the Kashmir imbroglio. Kashmir is a case beyond guns and grenades. Militancy is a phenomenon of last 30 years but the case of Kashmir existed even before it. It is rooted in history–history of independent India.

Few would dispute with the fact that people of Kashmir had never been at peace with rest of the country ever since the state was annexed to Indian union in 1947. New Delhi also knew the fact of Jammu and Kashmir’s restive relations with it. It is for this fact that local leadership was never trusted by New Delhi. They always tried to raise a leadership of their choice and government of their likings. The dismissal of Shiekh Abdullah’s government in 1953, Farooq abdullah’s government in 1984, Ghulam Mohammad Shah’s in 1986 and Mahbooba muftis in 2018 are the glaring instances of trust-deficit between Srinagar and Delhi. The large-scale rigging in 1987 assembly elections to keep peoples’ real representatives away from the power, and to bring in, instead, the pampered one was the actual reckoning of real problem in Kashmir. This proved a watershed, and people of came out with the entire belligerence and defiance. The Youth took up arms and launched a statewide armed campaign for the restoration of their democratic rights. There came occasions since then when militancy was reduced to zilch. In 2006 and 07, Kashmir was almost a militant-free zone. But that never meant that the problem was over. In 2008, the issue surfaced even with more horrendous form when tens of thousands of people rose in revolt and occupied streets for months. It was completely a civilian movement carried out in more fierce way.

 

In the ensuing years, 2009 and 10, the streets of Kashmir continued to witness civilian street revolt. No militant was involved in these movements. The public revulsion in 2016 proved the culmination. It was during this period that the youth of Kashmir came up with arms again. More than 250 militants were killed by security forces last year. The victories against militants are largely pyrrhic, and it only served to alienate ordinary Kashmiris. It can bell be understood from the fact that the armed youth have all the support of civilians. Unarmed civilians swarm on encounter sites, without any fear for their lives, in support of militants. On many occasions, more civilians died as against militants during encounters. The general shutdown observed on the Prime Minister’s visit across the valley should serve as eye-opener to understand the real genesis of the problem. Kashmir is a political problem, and needs a political resolution. Killing a militant is different from killing militancy. For killing militancy, Kashmir needs a political solution.