Alienation root of problem

Govt must grasp the reality that radicalization or militancy in Kashmir cannot grow in vacuum or induced simply from outside

General Officer Commanding In Chief (GoC-In-C), Northern Command, Lt. General Hooda has more or less hit the nail on the head by stating the obvious – that youth getting drawn to the gun are as yet too few and do not project an alarming situation and that this fresh injection of radicalization and re-glamourisation of militancy stems from deep rooted alienation and lack of opportunities. Unfortunately, the political leadership of the country have either yet to get a grasp of this reality that militancy does not breed in a vacuum or don’t have the courage to admit that it is policy paralysis, lack of governance and wrong governmental decisions that create conditions conducive for the growth of alienation and frustration of youth. Hooda’s observations are quite apt and if he doesn’t spell out political as a suffix to alienation, as a top ranking army officer he may indeed have his limitations but by implication it means unaddressed political alienation. It is now for the political leadership both in New Delhi and the state to grapple with some truths that are often deemed uncomfortable at the official level. One is that while revival of militancy is as yet not quite a threat, there is enough potential in Jammu and Kashmir for its revival. Second is to understand that the threat is less from outside but from within.

Third is that a policy of non-engaging with the people of Jammu and Kashmir politically as well as the government’s inability to offset a comprehensive economic programme for sustainable economy that provides opportunities and jobs to youth is a far bigger factor in pushing alienated and frustrated youth towards radicalization and militancy. Fourth, added to this the rigid posturing of the successive governments from time to time and the continuum of human rights violations with enforced and systemic pattern of impunity to shield guilty men in uniform has fueled the alienation and helped transform it into bitter hatred and anger for anything that symbolizes India. Fifth, that there cannot simply be a militaristic solution to the Kashmir tangle and that it requires off the beat as well as bold political and economic decisions, policies and good implementation. 

The government in the state and at the centre need to grapple with these harsh realities about the nature of the Kashmir conflict and rather than perpetuating a conflict through inaction, flawed policies and tinkering solely with military solutions, they can only help manage the conflict, not resolve it. Hawkish positions, belligerence and rigidity would prove counter-productive as the requirement is to address and heal the wounds of people through multiple confidence building steps. A section of the media and intelligentsia which has gone berserk over the regular appearance of Pakistani and ISIS flags in Kashmir after Friday prayers and begun preaching bellicosity would be doing a great disservice by taking a very myopic view of the situation.

The General’s observations have added to informed opinion and should help contextualise the trend. Without legitimizing the presence of such flags, a glance at the recent history of Jammu and Kashmir would reveal that such symbols have been used from time to time as an expression of anger against the government and do not necessarily prove the presence of an organised networking. The General may be right that youth are being wooed through social networking sites. However, the remedy is not simply in plugging the source of propaganda. The real panacea is in the existence of a vacuum of political inaction that fuels the levels of alienation, frustration and anger. These can be best dealt with by giving people, particularly youth, relief from a stifling atmosphere of excessive militarization and curbs on their movement and free expression, by opening channels of communication with them without setting preconditions and by addressing the economic discontent in the state without making the people feel that they are being robbed of even their existing resources in the name of charity and financial aid. While the state government must strengthen its governance, the Centre must show some pragmatism and magnanimity.

News Updated at : Tuesday, July 21, 2015