A Violent Conflict

A Violent Conflict

Kashmir''s new found violence prompts for a serious reflection

The suicide attack killing nearly 50 CRPF personal is the deadliest ever attack on the state security forces in all these three decades of armed militancy. We still remember some of the militant attacks that were so lethal that it left Kashmir watchers dazed and numbed. To a human heart the loss of life, on either side, was always saddening.  After all, in this violent conflict the stories of victimhood are not that simple, and flat. The relational complexity involved in all such violent conflicts subjects an otherwise universal human pain to a morbid and cold analysis of sorts. It pours poison into minds, and fills the bosom with unmitigated savagery. This is the most tragic outcome of a violent conflict. A principled distinction between an oppressor and an oppressed, a neat differentiation of a victim from a perpetrator, and a theoretical cleaving of good from bad, don’t always suffice to capture the human tragedies that a violent conflict generates. The most chilling outcome of a violent conflict is that it shatters the natural architecture of human relations, and that is what the realist policy makers, and practitioners of extremist politics miss the most. 

Kashmir conflict has also shattered that architecture of human relations. What constitutes a pure human tragedy disappears into a ‘subconscious dichotomisation’. The us-vs-them finally wastes us all. To each side the other is a barbarian.  And each side has bigger claim to humanity.  

As India reels under the shock of this incident, it is very hard to capture how Kashmiris receive this dreadful incident, and how it impacts their minds. Having experienced violence for three decades a common Kashmiri knows, as if by instinct, how, on all such occasions, it is sane to speak through silence. The teens and twentyish who were born and brought up in violence are too young to grasp the enormity of such incidents. They are even susceptible to drawing comparisons between  human tragedies on one side with that on the other.  They can even make a bare, and rank, application of theoretical tools on this extraordinarily disturbing scene. But  the older ones know well what an escalation in violence finally means. The older ones also understand the pain of those parents, living far away from Kashmir, who lose their children to this deadly conflict. 

Certain occasions make it extremely difficult to choose between silence and speaking. This incident is a pointed example of the devastating dilemma seizing an ordinary Kashmiri. You slightly scratch the heart of even an embittered soul in Kashmir and a genuine pain on a human tragedy oozes out. This is not to wean towards the particular brand of politicians in Kashmir for whom lying is a strategy. When the lives are lost on one side their eye on that side sheds some tears, and when the coffins are shouldered by the people on other side the second eye turns moist. Their expression of grief is not just theatrics, it’s downright treachery. It’s a pity that New Delhi has always considered such politicians as its assets. It’s for the people of Indian to probe this layered dishonesty that has been always employed to mislead them on what happens in Kashmir.  But for this New Delhi have to confess the original sin. 

In an atmosphere of rage it is easy to set the turbines of hate running. The immediate commentaries in the TV studios, and the first statements from politicians in power, indicate just that. But if sanity and sense is allowed to retain its place in this moment of anguish, it’s time to step aside of the rancorous rhetoric and think seriously on how the winds of violence can be deflected.  For those who have lost their loved ones, and for a vast population that relates emotionally with this incident, it is not easy to observe calm. But this is the time when the saner, and wiser elements of a society are burdened with the task of consoling the bereaved, and also approaching the whole issue sagaciously, non-violently, and bravely.

The way Kashmir conflict is drawing new patterns of violence, it sends a clarion call to all the saner elements in the region to join heads, and think of a departure from the older ways of dealing with this conflict. Summon little bits of courage to tell the truth to respective sides, and restore the human relationships.  Continuing with the same old methods is not an option, looking away from the insights we all now have on this conflict is an invitation to more violence. If some people still find it fit to unleash the virulent rhetoric further, and resort to the tested iron-fist method, who can stop them. But it is an option like insisting that the world is flat. An the world that belongs to our children is not flat. We will  bequeath a dangerous legacy to our children, and they will one day curse us.

It is time all parties to this conflict think of a significant shift in the ways they have been approaching this conflict. Of course that entails a stiff resistance within for all sides. But if we retain the human in us, and if we are pained to see people die, that is the least we can do. 

About Voltaire it’s said that his bishop friend strongly pressed him to renounce Satan before the time was up. Voltaire coughed, and handed down to us that memorable deathbed comment: “This is no time to be making new enemies.” The value of this comment in literature, and philosophy  apart, in the case of Kashmir conflict each side  needs to renounce satan, even if it means making some new enemies. Along the way new friendships will flourish, and gradually the animosities will melt away before the warmth of the restored human relationships.