Will exploitation and persecution of Kashmiri youth end?
Listening to Satya Pal Malik, Governor, J&K State, at a financial inclusion function where he electronically threw open banking services through ultra small branches at Ladakh, was a delight. His speech was loaded with a lot of intellect backed by humour, love and sympathy for Kashmiris. While speaking fluently in Urdu on the importance of rendering financial services to the people irrespective of their status, he kept his focus on the importance of power of youth to achieve peace, prosperity and secured future for generations to come in this life consuming conflict situation in Kashmir.
Even as it has been a uniform line from all those who assume power at the helm to highlight the importance of the power of youth in political governance in a state like ours, Satya Pal Malik’s line seemed different. It was different in a sense that his concerning voice was echoing pain over the plight of our youth.
Basically, plight of Kashmiri youth is not a story of three decades of unrest. But it’s as old as the Kashmir issue. To pull out the Kashmir youth out of plight and channelize their power in the peace and prosperity of the State, it’s important to know what ails Kashmir. Understanding the causes is not so simple to fish out an exact and plausible answer to this question. Kashmir bears a single word tagline – ‘Disputed’, though also popularly called ‘issue’. From generation to generation no force has been able to alter or erase this tagline and the future continues to be uncertain.
Who is driving the conflict? It doesn’t need brainstorming sessions to answer this question. However, there are certain interesting observations which suggest that major players of the conflict so far acted more as drivers of the conflict than to see an end to it.
Let me explain. A new dawn was set in motion some decade back when the central government despite being struck by two mass uprisings in 2008 and 2010 observed patience while handling Kashmir affairs. They tailored rehabilitation and pro youth developmental schemes in such a fashion that Kashmiri youth was lured to move out of the valley to shape careers. Over a period of time the opening of career paths saw a crowd of Kashmiri younger generation coming out of the conflict-ridden home place and getting mingled into the Indian societies/culture to such an extent that they started forgetting their pain back at home.
As the seed of getting young Kashmiri generation into the mainstream had started germinating, things surprisingly started getting reversed. A wave of religious intolerance was spread across the country. Kashmiris who were either working in different parts of the country or were pursuing their studies were targeted to an extent that they were forced to leave and come back to Kashmir. So, the anger in Kashmiri youth against the prevailing governance system has also been equally fueled by the Centre.
Now channelizing power of Kashmiri youth into the mainstream rests on the intentions of people at the helm of affairs, especially those in Delhi Darbar. Will exploitation and persecution of Kashmiri youth end? We can only hope for the best.
(The views are of the author & not of the institution he works for)