Engaging Kashmir’s alienated youth - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Stuff.

Home Top Ad

Advertisement
Advertisement
ad-placeholder

Breaking

Desktop%2BWeb%2BBanner
MOBILE-300X200

Monday, 22 July 2019

Engaging Kashmir’s alienated youth





The data on violence in Kashmir (graph at right, detailed figures further down) illustrates a missed opportunity for engaging Kashmiris between 2012-2015



By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 23rd July 19

Last week, I spent four days in Kashmir reading the mood amongst youngsters there. Engaging the Kashmiri youth is critical. With the decline of the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) – largely the outmoded separatists of the Hurriyat Conference – a fragmented and highly localised youth leadership now guides confrontation with the security forces. 

Speaking to youths, especially in the roiling districts of South Kashmir, it becomes evident that the longstanding Kashmiri tradition of anger at mainstream India has turned into bubbling, visceral hatred. Almost every Kashmiri will argue that the flagrant anti-Muslim bias of the Narendra Modi government has validated the two-nation theory, leaving Muslims with no place in today’s India. Person after person recounted mistreatment and abuse by security forces, especially at random check-posts that treat every Kashmiri as a terrorist until proven innocent. There was the grinding misery of random inconvenience: traffic being halted for hours to clear the road for security force convoys, youngsters being detained at military camps or police stations, purely for the mistake of being a young, fighting-age male. So deep-flowing is the vein of Kashmiri bitterness that even the rising epidemic of drug addiction is blamed on an “Indian plot” to plant a cancer that destroys the flower of Kashmiri youth. Youngster after youngster swore to me that Kashmiris would fight to the finish in their struggle for azaadi.

However, long-time watchers of the Valley understand, and factor into their judgement, the Kashmiris’ deep-felt need to vent anger. The first half of any conversation is different from the second half, which is far more coloured with pragmatism, even wisdom. It became quickly evident that the Kashmiris realise they are at a fork in the road – one path paved with continued violence, uncertainty and security force operations; the other characterised by dialogue and calm. Everyone realises the start of dialogue does not mean a full end to violence. But the emphasis will shift from confrontation to reconciliation. The Kashmiris are amenable to a dialogue outreach from New Delhi; but the government is keeping its cards close to its chest.

It is hard to miss the fatigue amongst Kashmiris, notwithstanding brave words about “a new generation having lost its fear of death”. Since Kashmir went up in flames in mid-2016 with the killing of Burhan Wani – a novice militant whose charisma made him a social media icon amongst Kashmiri youngsters – New Delhi has engaged Kashmir exclusively through the medium of security force operations. New Delhi’s strategy – often referred to as the Doval Doctrine, after National Security Advisor Ajit Doval – rests on the belief that Kashmiris have been pampered for decades (including by Atal Behari Vajpayee’s BJP government) and that they needed a robust reminder that New Delhi had hard options as well. Towards this, the Union government has squeezed the separatists on the simultaneous fronts of counter-militancy operations, economic targeting of separatist finances and incarceration of the separatist leadership. Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq are mostly under house arrest, while Yasin Malik and Shabir Shah have been consigned to jail. Mainstream politics too has ground to a standstill, with Mehbooba Mufti’s government dismissed and governor’s rule imposed for the foreseeable future. Omar Abdullah’s National Conference is unlikely to be spared either. The administration is in the hands of J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik, who has a well-deserved reputation for breath-taking faux pas. On Sunday, Malik urged militants to kill “the corrupt people who have looted Kashmir”, instead of killing innocents such as police officers. Facing accusations of endangering mainstream politicians and bureaucrats, Malik has clarified that he spoke in his individual capacity, not as governor. 

If there is fatigue amongst the Kashmir public, the security forces must also be feeling like they are running up a down-coming escalator. J&K Police violence statistics for the last decade starkly illustrate the lost opportunity for initiating political dialogue in 2013-15, when the violent street uprisings of 2008-10 had cooled, tourism was booming and there were just 150 active militants in Kashmir. Instead, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government’s majoritarian agenda drove Kashmir back into alienation. After Burhan Wani’s death in mid-2016, the flames have only leapt higher. The security forces kill a growing number of terrorists each year at a growing cost to themselves. Worse, from 2009-12, more than three terrorists were killed for each dead soldier. Since 2016, the cost in blood has almost doubled. If these troubling violence figures are to be mitigated, a fresh political engagement of Kashmir is essential.


J&K Security Situation^

Incidents
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019*












Grenade attacks
56
37
25
28
15
23
28
40
51
91
51
IED explosions
23
28
16
5
5
9
3
3
1
10
7
Arson 
21
23
4
2
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
Random firing
82
74
52
33
40
50
37
67
78
87
43
Cross firing
180
191
89
50
43
57
63
101
133
189
81
Arms snatching
2
2
1
5
7
6
8
11
6
12
2
Abduction
20
12
8
1
2
5
4
1
10
28
5
Violent incidents^
384
367
195
124
113
151
143
223
279
417
189












Civilians killed
63
47
31
15
15
35
22
20
51
55
23
Security forces killed#
79
69
33
15
53
47
39
82
80
91
76
Terrorists killed
239
232
100
72
67
110
108
150
213
257
127
Soldier--militant kill ratio
3.02
3.36
3.03
4.8
1.26
2.34
2.76
1.82
2.66
2.82
1.67













^ J&K Police official figures
* Up to 19th July 2019
# Including army, rashtriya rifles, CAPFs and J&K state police
^  Including grenade attacks, improvised explosive devices, cross firing, arms snatching and abductions

While little is yet conclusive, it appears there might be one in the offing. Home Minister Amit Shah visited Kashmir last month and addressed the panchayat (local government) heads elected in December. On Saturday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh declared that Kashmir would be resolved soon and “no power on earth can stop it”. Quickly tamping down on any optimism, he added: “If not through talks, then we know another way too.” Meanwhile, sources in Srinagar say the prime minister’s office has intensified the monitoring of the economic schemes it initiated – also pointing to elections.

Kashmiri political leaders believe the BJP is kick-starting politics towards a clear end: Forming a BJP-led government in Kashmir, which can lead the way to abrogating Articles 35A and 370 of the Constitution. Kashmiri politicians and security managers are wary about such a plan, warning that any political erosion of Kashmiri identity markers would constitute a red line that should preferably not be challenged. Mufti has already stated that, if Article 35A is challenged, “there will be no one left to hold [the national flag in Kashmir].”

However, the BJP apparently believes that a political majority and an enhanced security presence to control the reactions would allow it to ram through the changes. Obtaining a political majority involves sweeping the 37 seats in Jammu and two out of the four in Ladakh through a polarising electoral agenda; and winning a handful of seats in Kashmir to achieve a majority in the 87-seat J&K Assembly. The Kashmiri seats can only be achieved by fragmenting Abdullah’s National Conference and Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party, while simultaneously tying up with smaller Kashmiri players like Engineer Sheikh Abdul Rashid, Sajjad Lone and former Indian Administrative Service officer, Shah Faesal.

Without a dialogue aimed at engaging and co-opting the separatist hard core, such political machinations are likely to only discredit New Delhi further. Alongside a reconciliation dialogue, the government must also actively facilitate Kashmiri youth to move out of the state into mainstream India, providing visible alternatives even for those who stay back. The north-eastern states, once riven with insurgencies, are being steadily assimilated as large numbers of their youngsters find jobs in service industries in mainstream India. It would be useful to facilitate such a path for Kashmir’s youngsters as well.



12 comments:

  1. All Congress govts, bjp govts wanted & continued to desire dialogue with separatists, But with separatists smelling victory round the corner with active support of Pak guns & Pak gunmen in 1990s . Dialogue took back seat. Lahore declaration happened only to be scuttled in Kargil, Musharaf tried but was internally derailed, Modi broke ice with Nawaz again scuttled in Uri, Pathankot

    ReplyDelete
  2. Return to 1953 position would be the only acceptable solution to this 7 decades old problem that has cost so much of wealth that could have helped poor of the subcontinent out of their poverty.

    ReplyDelete
  3. NSR says ---

    Colnel Sahib... You have to be realistic...
    No reach out Kashmiri youth - boys & girls, men & women will be successful as long as hawala money and fake money keeps flowing to them through separatists and terrorists...

    Only very strict action on economic crimes and strong win by Modi made separatists to not call a Bandh when PM or RM visited J&K...
    India needs to establish the special courts to prosecute all these criminals speedily so the Kashmiri youth and adults goes back to schools...
    If you do not know, then all separatists children are studying abroad...

    Instead of advocating, sending J&K children to India where they congregrate and cheer for Pakistani cricket teams and celebrate Pakistani days.. India must abrogate Articles 370 and 35A immediately someway...

    It will facilitate the free movement of industry, development, jobs, people, educational institutions, etc

    It will also importantly rehabilitate 1947 POK refugees, Genocide suffering Kashmiri Pandits, Gujjars, Buddhists, Sikhs, etc

    I have seen too many of your articles from you but your line of thinking is really FLAWED..

    ReplyDelete
  4. Kashmiris have not had sovereignty since Moghul era and they are unlikely to have it anytime soon. Typically, discontented border territories are broken off from the mainland only by an overwhelming external power. Until India goes to war against China or America, Kashmiris have to make the best of their given lot.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Goes back years to what you used to say. Pity no one listened to you then.

    During my interactions with young Kashmiri's, especially students my impression is that they feel ashamed to say they are from India. They always say Kashmir and within few minutes articulate their utter hatred of all things Indian. If that's how their educated class feels, wonder how their other halves feel. Indian have made this a local movement now. Each generation will hate India more as more and more of their friends and relatives get injured and killed. Its a never ending cycle. ..and their numbers are growing still further. Imagine if you have been blinded by an Indian soldier, will you make nice comments about India to your family and friends.

    Years ago I wrote a paper with concluding remarks along the lines of; the day Kashmiri's have their own hero's that fight India and die in the cause, is the day it will truly be a local/indigenous movement and then it will be unstoppable. From then on-wards, the costs for Pak will decrease and increase for India. Also every attempt to make Kashmiri's feel Indian will be felt like an insult by them, i.e. making things worse.

    Peter

    ReplyDelete
  6. Strange for a military guy who is supposed to have clear thinking to write an article like this. This is purely a islamic fundamentalist problem and islam understands only one language - the language that China/israel speaks

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ashamed to know that you were once upon a time a colonel in the Army!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. its the bjp's fault...its the army's fault...its everybody's fault except the kasmiris themselves. Its time to take a hard stance. Kashmir has been appeased and pandered to for too long.

    ps im sure the army must be thanking its stars that you left when you did.
    pps oh and remove 35A already!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sir,
    "separatist hard core", "Kashmiri political leaders" are categories of thought that might lend clarity to your article on "alienated youth" to me they obfuscate understanding. do you think this separatist hard core is not nurtured by kashmiri political leaders, money is not laundered, that nia is sniffing up the wrong tree. what you see as distinct categories are but a spectrum.
    as a struggling entrepreneur i struggle daily to keep afloat, everyday i worry if i should eat into my savings to fund product development, existential concerns must be taken care of. that this animal called "separatist" is free of bread and butter concerns is a belief that i am not ready to buy. youth everywhere is rebellious, the more spirited/ unfortunate amongst them in a gun infested environment take up to gun.
    but even "alienated youth" who feel emasculated by security cordons, searches, pickets are continually evaluating their options in life. if forces ensure a short unprofitable life for those who seek gun, i am sure that will weigh on minds of future generation of youth.
    yes quotas for youth of kashmir in jobs in mainland india will ensure an escape out of kashmir jobless conundrum.
    don't bleed for jobless youth of kashmir any more than you would bleed for jobless youth elsewhere. even he is being given a raw deal in terms of deficient education, jobless economy.
    the moment you concede space to "mainstream politics " that thrives on Kashmir remaining a problem, you concede space to separatism since extreme voices are, on both ends of spectrum, more easily consumed.
    in a cross border terrorism (south of border) environment indian govt. must remain the only arbiter of life and physical security else the mainstream politics will start taking separatist lines (who so ever dispenses security( in terms of power to take away life) in coin env. will dictate the overt posture of political parties which in turn will dictate the overt stance of populace).
    as much as i hate bjp i agree with their stance that meets violence with an iron fist.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The use of statistics in the same manner that a drunkard uses a lamp post - for support rather than illumination. For instance, the worst 'kill ratio'year as per your analysis is 2013. And the figure for 2019 is largely influenced by the single terrorist success at Pulwama in which 44 CRPF jawans were martyred. And the surprising thing is your analysis considers Kashmir as an indigenous freedom struggle, completely ignoring the terror factory across the border. Also, you seem to prefer the comatose policy that lasted for two decades with military and socio-economic change both driven by the army. At least things seem to be moving towards a definite conclusion now. And yes, the route may not be pretty or to your liking. But change is coming.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The high cost that the Indian armed forces and paramilitary are bearing is the only reason the Kashmir issue will never become a true freedom struggle. If the Indian soldier was as trigger happy as the American GI, then you could say that India is an occupying force. You should know. In the American wars (Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan), body count and kill ratios were the holy grail and a simple comparison of casualty figures will show that the US forces with their massive firepower killed 10 or more enemy troops for every soldier lost. And still they lost/are losing. It's quite perplexing honestly, to see a respectable senior veteran repeatedly denigrate the efforts of his own erstwhile brothers in arms.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Israel style no mercy to jihadi even stone throwers is the only answer

    ReplyDelete

Recent Posts

Size_%2B300%2BX%2B200
Untitled%2Bdesign
Untitled%2Bdesign
Page 1 of 10412345...104Next >>Last
ad-placeholder
ad-placeholder