While the year gone by has been the bloodiest, the advent of 2019 has inflicted yet another unkind blow in terms of lives that it has claimed in this haunted valley.
Recovering from the shock and sense of loss being an element of human memory but the scars remain and some become a permanent reality of socio-psychological aspect of the community affected. A death, in any circumstance is not a thing to celebrate and only, as they say, wearer knows where a shoe pinches. It leaves behind widows, orphans, dashed hopes, unfulfilled aspirations besides a glaring denial of the right to live, grow and die with one’s own generation. As any generation at any given time has things in common cutting across its various beliefs and territorial borders. It often works in tandem to face challenges like earthquakes or tsunamis and death or disease which should make a human generation across the globe as one people. But the utopia cannot be reasoned in an atmosphere blinded by hate and rancour. The atmosphere where there is disdain for reason and taste for violence in which the space for dialogue shrinks and militarized policies are increasingly pursued.
Leaders instead of talking feel comfortable as fighting based on rhetoric of fighting terror and dominantly create a perception one like that, label and treat them so. The environment is equally conducive to lend a helping hand to the use of force. This is, in any case the fall out of conflicts. When parties are at variance, it is a conflict and so is it about Kashmir that makes it a conflict zone and the cost is death and destruction. More ominous dimensions are adding up to it lately, making it more complex. Not having recovered from the psychological effects of the blockade of supplies including the critical medicine to the valley during Amarnath land row, following the Pulwama tragedy, common Kashmiri has been subjected to sufferings, harassment, pain, humiliation and fear in many parts of India targeting, students, businessmen and travellers. Their properties vandalized. There is no doubt that those involved in the acts of violence do not represent the majority but at the same time this fringe element enjoys the power and connivance of dictating its writ on the majority and so has happened. The wheels of hate wagon have also sufficiently been oiled by some politicians and media houses. This belief is strengthened by a meaningful silence and inaction by the ruling class on the unruly behaviour of those involved and observance of law in its breach. More surprising was a tweet by Thatagata Roy, governor of Maghalya inciting boycott of Kashmir and its products adding insult to injury. One may need to re-educate oneself about the meaning and definition of racism. This also appears akin to the Nazi doctrine of 1933 when it for the first time came to power in Germany and ordered boycott of Jewish businesses before the infamous Holocaust of 1941 onwards. These uncharitable utterances have also not evoked any concern except a mild reaction from Dr Karan Singh, a tweet each from Omar Abdullah and P Chidambram. This attitude across the board is sure to widen the gulf between Kashmir and New Delhi. Those blamed for being engaged in trying to secede Kashmir from India require only half of the effort in this direction and another half is persistently done by those claiming to be more nationalistic and loyal than the constitution of the country itself. It does not require the rocket science intelligence to understand that the phrase: being driven to wall derives its meaning from the impact of the systematic attempts of bruising the Kashmir psyche.
It has also the potential for some to see a saviour in a militant and opening not only their doors but also hearts to him. Events of the recent past are suggestive of that and people like Yashwant Sinha, former union minister and BJP leader repeatedly has been saying that India has lost Kashmir and it is only through its security forces that India is holding on. This opinion of Sinha is not for the love of anything other than his nation. He as a saner politician, is in favour of a sustained dialogue instead of the military solution. Lt Gen Deependra Singh Hooda, the architect of surgical strike and hope he is not branded anti national, also suggests a socio- political dialogue as a way forward in Kashmir. He in one of his articles about Kashmir situation has quoted an Israel’s author IritKeynan from her book, “Between Past and Future: Persistent Conflicts, Collective Memory, and Reconciliation”, who writes: “…. Conflicts entail two major aspects— defined by scholars as a socio-political aspect—with later not less than the former…… the socio-psychological aspect pertains to a wide range of issues relating to the community, including a community’s sense of identity and self-perceptions, its fears and sense of collective threats, perceived past and portrayal of its role in the conflict—— the socio-political aspect involves issues such as land, natural resources, economic and political dominance. Despite the complexity of the socio-political matters, in situations of intractable conflict it is the socio-psychological aspect, as well as history, that dominates the relationship between the involved adversaries and plays a central role in interpreting and fuelling persistent animosity.” Saner voices all along have been emphasizing the urgent need of a dialogue and rightly so.
Unfortunately, a comprehensive dialogue has not remained a priority with the people with political and electoral ambitions all these decades of death and destruction. This element has remained an obstacle to a negotiated settlement of the problem which has resulted in the conflict becoming deadlier with every passing day. It also is helping in widening and broadening the social divide beyond the frontiers of Kashmir, which by no estimation is going to help anyone other than those not wishing well to the people of subcontinent. Dialogue is the only way forward in Kashmir. The solution to Kashmir’s problems lies in the political realm and not the military.
(The author, a leading lawyer and a poet is a regular contributor to this newspaper. Feedback at:[email protected])