The street protests by student community in Kashmir have somewhat fallen off but the provocations for such more protests are still there. The worst of it is that the provocations come from the government itself. The education minister Altaf Bukhari has virtually rebuked the students and threatened them ‘return classes or you will be treated as rowdies’. It is the most despicable way of addressing the anger among the student community. It should not sound too harsh to say that the minister has fallen short of decent words in communicating with the students and his threat was no less than the demonstration of a ‘rowdy’ in him. Students are the main ingredient of our societal order. They grow as the society grows. We have been in the thick of an armed conflict for the past 30 years. Our children have never seen peace. They do not know even what the peace actually is. They are born in conflict and they grow witnessing deaths, armed clashes, raids, arrests, flaying and firing of bullets and pellets. They cannot be disconnected from the situation around. Driven to corner, they look back in anger. They live with harassment and humiliation on daily basis. There is no harmony in their lives. Only naïve can think that what happens with a father cannot have the effect on his children. Kathua rape and murder case shocked one and all. We all protested against it. The protests by students are the natural corollary of the situation around. Street demonstrations and stone pelting has become the popular mode of protests in Kashmir over the years. Students cannot be singled out of it. We don’t mean to justify the stone pelting by student protestors. It is just to show the course Kashmir goes on. The recent advisory by the security authorities over growing influence of militants on cross sections of Kashmiri society is a candid admission of a brute reality. A whole generation of young Kashmir has been driven towards extremism.
In this situation it is the responsibility of the government to provide a dignified and peaceful atmosphere. The brute force used by the police and security forces including arrest of students should be the real concern of the government. The savagery displayed by police and CRPF men while treating students boils one’s blood. Video footage of student protests and the way they were treated available on social media should have shamed the people in power. The most shocking and shaming video in which a girl student is abused by a law enforcing personnel should have moved the government to inquire into and identified the personnel and action taken against him. It, however, meant little to the government. The education minister instead not only threatened student community but also insulted the parents of the students as well. Gone are the days when people, who face bullets and pellets daily in their lives, could be scared away by warnings. They proved it in 2008, 2010 and more lately in 2016. Use of force cannot be always a tool to calm the streets, more so, when it has failed time and again. The people in power should take the student protests seriously because in spite of reprehensible violent show this was a large protest with significant public support and the capacity to have a palpable impact on mainstream politics. You do not have to believe that the protesting students could be forced to silence. Most of what is happening on Kashmir roads is the making of the government itself. Instead of correcting its mistakes, the people in government are adding fuel to fire by making inflammatory and threatening statements. It should be taken note of by everyone that you are dealing with a people who cannot be cowed down or scared away by threats and warnings. Chief Minister Mahbooba Mufti should personally take a call on it and advise her ministers to be sane and sensible while talking on public issues.