A BLOODY YEAR IN KASHMIR

Centre needs to re-assess Kashmir situation by desisting the foolish temptation of deeming bloodshed as a measure of success.As curtain falls on 2018, one of the bloodiest years in the last two decades or so in Kashmir, there is little hope for any turn-around in the near future. Not only did levels of violence scale-up in the last one year, the Centre’s handling of Kashmir remained bereft of sound logic or a holistic assessment of the ground situation.

The Centre is not only oblivious that a continued and exacerbated spell of muscular policy will spark greater alienation, unrest and push young men towards militant groups, it wishfully hopes that everything can be resolved simply by crushing popular rebellions. This despite the increasing anger, alienation and rebellion at the ground level. The assumption of the government that situation is under control is way off the mark, because it is simply based on the number of militants killed, without taking into account the increasing number of youth picking up the guns to replace the slain militants.

The official narrative is also unmindful of the continuum of excesses committed by security forces feeding into the culture of arming young men against the state or pushing them on a daily basis to engage the forces in ding-dong battles on the streets, where the ruthless power inequality of bullet and pellet versus the stone is constantly at display. Despite widespread world-wide condemnation of the inhuman use of pellets against civilians during protests, the government is continuing that policy with abject refusal to even review it. The use of pellets or similar so-called less lethal weapons, which were abandoned by a fascist state like Israel in Palestine and earlier by Britain in Northern Ireland, continues to be used by the Indian security forces against the citizens with utmost impunity. The government tries to legitimize its use in the name of ‘terror-sponsored’ protests, a logic that falls flat in the face of the latest pellet victim – a nineteen-year-old baby. The year 2018 has been a bloody year and one that is dismal from the political point of view.

While the government celebrates the killings of over 200 militants during the year as an achievement, it does not take into account either the blood-spill of the civilians or its own security personnel. Besides, the slain militants have already been replaced by a number which is much larger. The statistics reveal that at any given time since 2016, the number of militants operating across the Valley has been steadily increasing. In 2018, the number of militants operating have jumped up from 200 to almost 300, even as 240 militants have been killed. This glaring figure itself is an indication of the flawed muscular policy that is being followed in Kashmir.

A media report in a national daily on Sunday quoting unnamed officers in the ministry of home affairs said that central government would continue the singular approach of military methods to respond to Kashmir situation and that further scaling up the muscular policy was also under consideration. The move is more inspired by megalomania of the government of the day and its penchant for belligerence. It is less inspired by a fair assessment of the inflexible and ruthless military policy the government is already pursuing without any degree of success. To measure the effectiveness of policies on basis of the amount of blood spilled is the highest form of official brutality and the very anti-thesis of democracy. The present policy does not guarantee any short-term results.

In fact, in the long term it is extremely disastrous as a continuum of brutality and dehumanization will further cement the wide gulf of alienation between the masses of Kashmir and rest of India. It is hoped that better sense prevails in the new year and prompts government to back up its military strategic operations against militants with some effective talking and reaching out to the people, not just economically but also politically. With a government trying to relentlessly squeeze out even the space of the existing pro-India constituency and pursue its Kashmiri-demonisation project, 2018 unfortunately has taken India even further from that goal. With every passing day, Kashmir is being lost. It cannot be glossed over with the false belief that the government is winning it over by spilling the blood of Kashmiris.