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Kashmir Unrest: The Illusive Solution


Kashmir Unrest: The Illusive Solution

Brig Anil Gupta

Hectic activities are underway both in the national and state capitals namely New Delhi and Srinagar to find solution to the current impasse in the Kashmir Valley which had been under the longest ever curfew for fifty one days. Apart from discussions and parleys a number of measures have also been taken in the near past to restore normalcy. Appeals have also been made by the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Home Minister and the Prime Minister to the parents to ensure that their children are not misled and lured into stone throwing as well as attack on security forces. All of them have made it very clear that they are looking for a permanent solution and not a temporary solution through appeasement as has been happening in the past. While the intention is noble there appears to be a mismatch when it comes to execution. With no visible improvement it appears that arrows are being shot in the dark in the hope that some will hit the target. One thing is amply clear that the separatists and other valley based political parties are only playing to the galleries when they talk of restoration of normalcy. They are the perpetrators of the current unrest and in no way are interested in losing the political brownies they perceive to have scored over the ruling alliance. The solution which as of now appears illusive will have to be found by the Mehbooba-Modi combine. A major change of mind set is needed, the attitude of “us” versus “them” has to go. We not only need to save Kashmir because it is our integral part we also need to own the Kashmiris as part of us. PM Modi also said in Mann Ki Baat, “Ekta (Unity) and Mamata (Compassion) were solutions to all the problems,” while referring to the Kashmir unrest.

There are varying views while determining the typology of the current uprising.  Does it arise from the lack of job opportunities and poor development? Is it Pak sponsored; financially, militarily and materially? Is it a political, social or religious problem backed by growing radicalisation of Kashmiri youth? There are enough indicators to suggest that the mosques are being misused to fuel anti- sentiments and coordinate the activities like protest marches, violent street protests and deadly stone-throwing. To my mind it is a combination of all these factors coupled with a long list of unfulfilled promises that has led to the alienation. A large trust deficit between the agitators and the government (both central and state) is quite evident. The measures taken so far have been a mixed bag. Unleashing a counter strategy against Pakistan to refrain it from its unabashed interference in Kashmir by exposing the cause of the hapless people of Baluchistan, POJK and Gilgit-Baltistan who are the victims of unparalleled human right violations, brutalities and atrocities committed by Pakistan and its Army can easily be termed as a masterstroke. 22 MPs chosen by Nawaz   Sharif to plead his Kashmir cause globally will now be busy answering to the community about the situation in these regions rather than Kashmir since the Pakistan's claim on Kashmir has been rejected time and again by the global community.  Investigation by NIA into Hawala funding and Benami accounts is another welcome step. The investigations need to be taken to their logical conclusion and not sabotaged mid-way as has been the past practice. Proposed visit of all party delegation will certainly be helpful in cooling down the tempers provided they also talk to the youth.  Nomination of a joint-secretary level officer in MHA as Nodal Officer for J&K is a path-breaking decision. Harassment has been one of the major complaints by the Kashmiri youth while studying/pursuing a profession in other parts of the country. This was a major barrier for the Kashmiri youth to venture out of the state. This step would now encourage them to seek employment outside the state thus easing the problem of lack of in the Valley.   The decision to identify and jail the instigators has come little late but it is better late than never. The thought to appoint interlocutors is regressive in nature. There have been numerous commissions and interlocutors in the past whose reports are just piled up in North Block and gathering dust. In fact, this is one of the biggest irritants with the youth and any fresh team of interlocutors will not be welcome by them. Even the deployment of BSF has not gone well with the youth but the government had no option because the government is determined to restore law and order to ensure that the innocent Kashmiris are not harmed by the 5% miscreants clamouring for Azadi. Those clamouring for Azadi are living in a utopian world. They must realise that past three decades of Pak sponsored militancy has proved conclusively that there is nothing in the arsenal of the militants cum terrorists that can make the Indian nation concede. Negotiations must be held with wider cross-section but only with those who swear by the Indian Constitution and do not dispute India's sovereignty. A thorough overhaul of the JK Police both at the top and functional levels is urgently needed. Those policemen who have been either radicalised or compromised need to be weeded out. Fresh and young blood needs to be inducted.

While the security forces be mandated to stop infiltration, ensure law and order and crush the militancy with an iron hand the government must engage with the local youth. The Kashmiri youth is not estranged but disillusioned. Brought up under the shadow of gun and terror, they are eager to get out of the depressing situation but are handicapped due to non- availability of alternatives. The spread of Wahhabi radical Islam has led to closure and drying up of alternative sources available to their compatriots in rest of the country. Absence of alternative sources to spend their time has forced them to remain confined to mosques and social media leading to radicalisation of their minds. Easy and plentiful availability of Wahhabi literature both in the libraries of the mosques and the social media and non-availability of other forms of literature (both religious and cultural) has led to unidirectional thinking among the young minds.  Most of the young Kashmiris have not experienced the Sufi culture, an anti-thesis of radical Islam. Nothing much is being done by the media or the government for return of Sufism which will enlighten the young minds to a more tolerant form of Islam, which has been Kashmir's pride for centuries. The famous scientist Albert Einstein said, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I see my life in terms of music.” Music is not only soul-stirring but a great de-stressor as well. There is a need to organise regular music concerts and popularise traditional Kashmiri music and attract the youth. Traditional folk arts like ‘Bhand' also need to be rejuvenated. The youth has also been deprived of cinema that needs to be re-started. Opening of public libraries, restarting KPL type cricket tournaments, launching Football coaching camps and organising tournaments at village/block level and reviving NCC training are some other suggested alternatives. These are de-stressors and should not be viewed from the narrow prism of religion. Harnessing their skills and preparing them for jobs should be another priority area of the government.  Jobs should be given to the deserving and favouritism of any kind should be strictly dealt with. Last but not the least “no more false promises please.” The illusive solution lies in engaging the youth.

(The writer is a based political commentator, columnist, security and strategic expert. He can be contacted at

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.


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