How Long I Dream of Peace in Kashmir
Over the decades, the killing of innocent people by Indian forces in Kashmir has culminated a severe sense of loss in the minds of people. The hegemonic state has never restrained from coercion, intimidation, threats, and ruthless unleashing of violence against common people. Such a vicarious structure has paralysed not only the peace in Kashmir but it also has weakened the developmental accomplishment in Kashmir. The economic development has worsened since the region is simmering in the conflict.
The Story of economic development in Kashmir is pathetic; neither the wealth of the ‘nation’ nor the youth are contributing to the economic development. The thinking of young generation in Kashmir is paralysed by the combined effects of the political imbroglio, the high rate of unemployment, the police recklessness, that in turn have been contributing to the vile quandary of today’s youth in Kashmir. Growing up in the shadows of conflict, the people are witness to several baffling narratives engraved in their minds. This has emotionally paralysed minds of youth and has made them feel insecure about their future. Struggling economy, stunted agriculture and distressed industrial sector in the region has piled over the agony.
Conflict leads to an interruption of the production process and trade, massive capital flight and the destruction of infrastructure. They also lead to a breakdown of administrative and social structures, institutions, and the flight of human/capital through migration and the destruction of education and health care services etc. The political situation in Kashmir has led to constant curfew and strikes and kind of institutional arrangements that the policy regime has a direct impact on the state’s economy.
The picturesque scenery of Kashmir is one of the essential resources and a direct source of livelihood to a significant number of the population – from hoteliers and houseboat owners the shikarawallas, artisans and craftsman. For decades, it had been the pillar of the local economy. Historically, it has been a significant contributor to the state’s GDP as ‘The Planning and Development Department of the Government estimates that nearly up to thirty percent of the state’s population directly or indirectly benefits from tourism.’ Since a decade and a half because of enormous tensions in the region shrug off the economy.
The severity of the conflict can be understood by the detrimental effect that it has had on the economy and its prolonged nature. The massive inflow of resources from New Delhi has failed to quell the violence in the valley. India’s pattern of spending in Kashmir may be considered as counterproductive. The expenditure has been concentrated towards rooting out anti-India activism through military operations. One may argue that a more job creating an approach which also focussed on the development of infrastructure may have led to a decline in the conflict by increasing the ‘opportunity cost of violence’. Yet, the spending allocation is unlikely to be the only cause of the perpetuation of violence. India has used similar measures in the past and met with reasonable success.
The fresh outbreak of mass protests by students, which turned violent and brutal suppression by security agencies following the grave injuries and killings of a student by police, prods the question: Why does the Valley explode again and again? The Valley has become a place, where normalcy has a novel definition and the vicious cycle of violence punctuated by spells of calm is the ‘new normal’.
Ruling parties always comes up with clumsy excuses that all this happen because of past. Do politicians ever think about the past? Do they ever learn from the past? To judge from the current situation in Kashmir, the question must be answered positively. Kashmir, conflict-hit place since decades witnessing the shift in movement. However, they remain divorced from reality, even though the involvement of some vested interests in the insurgency cannot be entirely denied.
Last summer Kashmir unrest, which witnessed an increasing spiral of anger and the re-counting of horrifying pellet gun injuries now the government is thinking to replace pellets with plastic pellets. People have been blinded killed and maimed in hundreds and thousands. Instead of replacing pellets government should make effective peacebuilding initiatives.
Such kind of responses not only causes provocation among people but they also add a seal of perpetuity to the already absolute culture of impunity drilled through the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA. Because of this Kashmir has been central to the deepening sense of humiliation, injury, alienation, anger and frustration.
Talking to my friend Suhail (name changed) why there is a shift in movement in Kashmir. He replied that “the Indian government did not react to a civilised state, which would be clearly seen through their actions and reactions. Sometimes you hear talk of how the state exercised restraint but there’s no evidence of that. Their attempt for peace building process is but of a joke. By the end of the summer, it left an entire population brutalised, hurt, and fatigued.”
In contemporary times this is erosion in the faith of ‘democracy’ that is threatened by the state itself. This process needs to be stemmed and corrective measures should be taken immediately. As the responsible leader of ruling party suggested, move out Kashmiris and resettle them in the campus in Tamilnadu. Politics of recognition is important for the development of the idea of self. It played an important role in the fight for the rights of marginalised, ethnolinguistic, religious minorities, who saw themselves both equal and distinct form of the dominant majority within a nation state.
*The author is Research Scholar at Department of History and Culture, Jamia Millia Islamia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position of Oracle Opinions.