Kashmir: A Tragedy of Errors

The Rising Kashmir

May 02, 2019 |

Muneer Ahmad Magry

Kashmir: A Tragedy of Errors

Political disillusion aside, the alienation of Kashmiris from India is mired in history, economics and psychology. The problem is not communal, although some sectarian ideologues would like to view it in that perspective. While Pakistan and India engage in shadow boxing, Kashmir is trampled underfoot. The dispute over Kashmir can only be resolved by understanding Kashmiri aspirations. The Kashmir uprising is unquestionably political in nature and unusually powerful. In its sheer power it compares with the Algerian uprising of 1954, the Palestinian Intifada of 1987, and perhaps the Vietnamese uprising of 1944. As Kashmir valley is witnessing the mass alienation since several decades, this has led to devastation, uprising in militancy ranks, quotidian brutalities. There has been various initiatives’ by successive governments to recur peace in the valley but it failed subsequently, with no reasons concealed.

The current paradoxical political environment, in which youth participation in street protests must be located. The Kashmiri youths’ dissent and protests have developed in response to the political culture that state has maintained in Kashmir. And as long as the “paradox of normalcy” persists, political protests are likely to break out. The question, if this paradox can be resolved is a difficult one? The current dispensation in New Delhi looks at Kashmir through a particular ideological prism. Some right wing folds are against Article 370, 35-A; the only legal instrument which governs the relations between the Indian union and the state of Jammu and Kashmir. To produce more alienation among Kashmiris, the current national highway ban has added sourer flavor and wound salting to the grave undisputed issue pertaining to Kashmir. For the moment, what India wants in Kashmir and what Kashmiris want – seem to be unbridgeable scenario.
The total national highway stretch from Udhampur to Barmullah is roughly 271 km; this stretch is a life line for business community and economic development of the state, comprising various major districts alongside the periphery of NH 44 from Udhampur to Baramullah. In wake of Pulwama attack which the government had placed a sightless veto for utilizing the services of national highway for two days in a week i.e. Wednesday and Sunday. The ban is altogether an ill-advised move and the failure of security agencies. The mismanagement of Kashmir discourse in terms of mass alienation in recent years can’t be subverted by such illogical moves.

The security agencies failed in ‘Toto’ to avoid the horrible incident which took place in Pulwama leaving behind the death of more than 40 CRPF soldiers. Furthermore the ban can’t be justified in any sense by putting embargo on national highway usage. Kashmiris are subjected to grave harassments in these two designated days. Apart from these two days, other days in the week also throw discrimination towards Kashmiri travelers. I personally experienced such a grave mortification when I was travelling from Handwara to Srinagar airport, and I choose Tuesday as a safer strategical move. It usually takes 1.5 hrs from Handwara to reach Srinagar, but the ill-fated day took around 3 hours to reach the Airport, I was lucky enough to catch my flight. The serious manipulations, immediate barricading and unusual ‘checks and halts’ by security forces have led the situation into a fear psychosis. I was wondering that if two days are reserved then why this mess is engulfing the other days of the week as well. The only thought I could perceive; Kashmir has been turned into a camp – a Palestine in making.

Highway ban has added ‘insult to injury’ and a serious blow to the already feeble economy of Kashmir. The ban has impacted transportation of goods and flow of tourists. Banning the transport for 48 hours in a week will lead to a huge economic loss. Shortage of essential commodities due to highway ban has led to high steep in prices which ultimately will lead to crisis and financial instability.

Since the State is already under President’s Rule, it has pushed the political class and the administration farther apart. Ironically parties such as National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party have led the voices of protest in order to gain the political mileage out of it. Petitions have been filed in the J&K High Court arguing that the restrictions violate Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution. The effect of any response to the Pulwama attack ought not to be an increased alienation that places troops and local people in an ‘us-versus-them timetable’. The present scenario can prove horrendous and thus leading towards an obnoxious discourse which holds no elucidation. Let us pray for peace and prosperity for the people of this land. May good sense prevail upon all?

(Author is a Research Scholar)

muneer.magray@terisas.ac.in