By Mir Suheel Rasool
The 20th century political history of Jammu and Kashmir witnessed many uprisings, revolutions and movements, followed by dialogues processes. However, the core issue hardly saw any change, which the people have aspired for decades. Kashmir conflict has evolved radically and traumatically since the hasty Partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. It has over the years turned quite complex and multi-dimensional, i.e., historical, socio-economic, political, religious and international. It is apparent that the Kashmir dispute has changed from a comparatively simple territorial dispute to a far more complex political issue having global implications.
Being one of the intractable unresolved conflicts in the world, it has caught the attention of many intellectuals and writers. Eminent writers across the globe have written books and articles on the conflict. Kashmir conflict has both external and some internal factors. External sources of Kashmir conflict include antagonistic or rancorous relationship between India and Pakistan and incompetent or inefficient role of the United Nations, while the internal factors are about the bad politics in the state since 1947. The political parties in Kashmir stand divided on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. People of Kashmir have become increasingly isolated and dissatisfied with Indian democracy. They are completely disillusioned with the politics and the representatives, with the decisions and the decision makers because all political parties have a history of exploiting the issue for their own gain. The response of the state government towards subjugated and angry youth of the Valley has not been convincing and satisfactory. Both the centre and the state governments have failed to resolve the demands of the youth. Instead of resolving their demands, they deepened the alienation within them, ignoring the fact that the core cause of the alienation among the youth was the political disempowerment in the state.
India continues its presence in Kashmir only by means of its military might, and the force of its gun. The freedom struggle in the Valley has left a deep emotional and sentimental strain on Kashmiris. It is very unfortunate that the Kashmir freedom struggle is ‘projected’ in a different light globally. Countries like USA and Russia have remained silent spectators for too long, watching the Indian military and intelligence atrocities in Kashmir from the sidelines. On the other side, by issuing sympathetic statements in favour of Pakistan, China has employed an “appeasing tactic”.
Strategically, Kashmir is besieged between three nuclear weapons states of India, Pakistan, and China. Because of its strategic geographic location and political significance, India and Pakistan have both claimed Kashmir.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir have risen against cumulative injustice and have been fighting for their right to self-determination, wanting to decide their political future, as promised to them by the UN Resolutions of 1948-49. However, the aspirations of the Kashmiri people and their right to self-determination have been muffled not only by Indian stubbornness but, even more so, by the neo-imperial western hegemonic powers led by the US, which wants to project India as a counter to China’s emerging power in Asia. On the other side, Pakistan’s all-weather ally China also showed interest in the Kashmir region because it provided an excellent trading route for China to transport its products to Central Asia. Sino-Pakistan relationship has been a key component of Pakistan’s foreign policy.
Kashmir problem is a consequence of the failure of democracy’s hardware. The formal political institutions of democracy have been maintained erratically in Kashmir. Realistically speaking, human rights violations and claims of democracy can’t work together. The so-called custodians of democracy like the US have deliberately chosen a meaningful silence on the large-scale human rights violation by the Indian Armed Forces in Kashmir. Being the most militarized state in the world, the people of Kashmir have been suffering under brutal Indian occupation. It is obvious that whenever there is a gross violation of human rights, the people turn to unrest and uprisings as a way of protest. Such violations by Indian security forces add fuel to uprisings and worsen the situation. For example, the pellet guns have been banned in many countries but such lethal weapons are still used in Kashmir to blind hundreds, including children and elders. But the people of Kashmir, particularly the youth today, do not fear the pellet or bullet anymore; they continue to protest against oppression and call for freedom (Azadi).
The new wave of unrest that broke out in 2016 is quite different from the earlier nature of the protest in terms of strength, magnitude, and the ways of mobilisation. The rapid mobilisation in the aftermath of Burhan Wani’s killing points towards the long-pending demand of the Kashmiri people to decide their own political prospect. Kashmiris have made countless sacrifices for ‘AZADI’. The word ‘Azadi’ is gaining traction among the Kashmiri youth, mobilising them in large numbers.
This historical vexation of Kashmiris is always met by the state’s barbaric acts and forces. India always keeps its masses ignorant about Kashmir, whose struggle for a political solution remains bewildering till another cycle of protests and killings return. The youth in Kashmir are left with very little hope and see no peaceful future for them. But they have a staunch belief that only free Kashmir will lead to a prosperous future for the coming generations.
Mir Suheel Rasool is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Sociology, University of Kashmir.
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