There cannot be a more hypocritical statement than asking ‘why Kashmiris are so angry?’ It reminds one of the French Queen Marie Antoinette!
The entire world knows what has been happening in Kashmir for last three months. Almost a hundred people have been killed and thousands injured by the security forces. Not even nine year old kids, old men, and women have been spared.
The security forces have virtually gone berserk in killing youth to prevent taking out of peaceful protests. In spite of repeated declarations of a person no less than the prime minister of the country regarding use of non-lethal means of crowd control, youth are getting killed every day. In fact, most cases of bullet injuries are on vital parts. The aim of the security forces has not been to disable or restrain the crowds but to straight away kill the people. Allegedly, a large number of fatal casualties have occurred due to the security forces numerous roadside checks and often their refusal to allow movement of vehicles carrying injured. For more than three months people have been made virtual prisoners in their own homes. The entire valley has been turned into a prison. There have been allegations of drinking water supplies through tankers being stopped to some parts of the city. It has also been alleged that power supply to some downtown localities has been deliberately cut during night to prevent slogan shouting through the public address systems installed in the mosques. Earlier curfews and “restrictions” were imposed during day only. Now, even night curfew is strictly imposed. During the day the curfew is enforced with such ferocity that even medicine shops are not allowed to function. In fact, a large number of localities have reported barging in of security forces into their homes and ransacking these. Security forces have been reportedly indulging in the stoning of houses and breaking of windowpanes. The windscreens and the windows of hundreds of cars parked on the roads have been alleged to have been smashed by the security forces during night. The media has been totally gagged. There have been no newspapers in Srinagar for days on end. All the local cable TV channels have been banned from airing any news. A number of media persons have been thrashed and sometimes seriously injured. No doubt there is a two way tug of war going on which has brought on this virtual state of siege but the State cannot be expected to behave like non-state actors in inconveniencing its subjects. Shortages of essential commodities have been reported from many areas. Life saving medicine is also unavailable as no fresh supplies are coming. The schools, colleges, and the university are now shut for last three months. Trade has come to a standstill and the losses are estimated over Rs 8,000 crores.
The anger in Kashmir is not spontaneous or on the spur of the moment. It has been building over the decades. Right from 1947, the majority of Kashmiris were not reconciled to their association with India. They remained silent only because the most charismatic leader, the Lion of Kashmir had supported the association. However, the things changed when that leader was deposed in 1953. Since that time the Indian Government instead of honouring the aspirations of the people and working out a solution to guarantee the identity of Kashmiris, has saddled them with one after the other corrupt regimes. They ensured the total erosion of the autonomy guaranteed to them under the constitution. An edifice of corruption was built through these puppet regimes. Character assassination was used extensively to eradicate any resistance. Kashmir was made totally dependent on doles from Delhi. The bubble of so called normalcy burst in 1990 with the eruption of militancy. Brute force was used to wipe out militancy. As per official figures over 50,000 people were killed. Thousands were maimed. Thousands are still untraced. Thousands were orphaned. The entire social fabric was shattered. There are over three hundred thousand cases of psychosomatic illness. It is reported that before the outbreak of militancy there were only 8,000 cases in the entire valley. All these years Kashmiris have been simmering with anger. The events of last three months have acted as a fuse for the simmering volcano of Kashmir to burst with unprecedented fury. In spite of this senseless mayhem, and untold suffering if someone asks why Kashmiris are so angry, that person must be either living in a cuckoo’s land or is deliberately trying to keep eyes shut to the stark reality! It is said that during the French Revolution when the revolutionaries surrounded the Royal Palace and were shouting slogans, the French Queen Marie Antoinette asked her courtiers what the people wanted? On being told they wanted bread, she said “Why don’t they eat cakes?” On being further told that they wanted water, she said, “Why don’t they drink Champagne?” This shows the total disconnect the French Royalty had with the common people prior to the Revolution. The same appears the case in regard to the Congress president who is normally expected to be fully aware of the situation in the entire country through the prime minister of her own choosing. The All Parties Meet in which Sonia Gandhi raised the question of knowing: “Why Kashmiris are so angry?” itself is an exercise in futility. Instead of facing the situation head on by taking some concrete measures to defuse it, the only result was a lot of talk but no action. Sending an all parties team to assess the already well known ground situation or meeting unwilling people is like a cruel joke. Time for rhetoric is long past. There is now hardly any time for action even. We may be soon reaching a point of no return. Instead of putting its head under sand like an ostrich and hoping for the storm to pass over, the government should take immediate steps without any further dithering or discussion to defuse the situation. They cannot get a better offer from the opposite side. They are agreeable for a dialogue provided a conducive atmosphere is created. Any further delay in view of the continuing mayhem will make these leaders too irrelevant!
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