Kashmir is back to square one. Mayhem, killings, blood soaked streets, battered bodies, curfews and protests. The return of chaotic deafening days, silent sobbing nights, the inauspicious summer and the same heart piercing wails of mothers. Gloom is in the air, charged are the emotions and the old story is unraveling exactly frame over the frame. The bullet sounds, pellet holes, teary red eyes, coughing peppery throats and the streets marked with brick pieces and glass remnants are not new. The Fridays, at the least in downtown and some other sensitive places, have kept the tradition alive. These ceremonial brickbat 'Friday battles' are though just the reminders that the matter has not settled, the conflict is still brewing. Meanwhile, however, certain intermittent events push the situation to the edge where we find Kashmir again languishing within its own screams and whispers. And these screams and whispers are too heart wrenching and painful for the ruthless blood bath associated with it.
Imagine 2010 summer had not witnessed killings and had not nudged the ego of young Kashmiri boys. Burhan and his associates would clearly not have taken this mantle to avenge the insults and abuses they perceive Kashmiris are constantly inflicted with. This new breed of Kashmiri boys pushed to the fringes could as a consequence be unmistakably attributed to the mishandling of the situation in 2010. Given this, imagine the fallout of 2016 summer killings. Is the anger, as an outcome, going to be yet another stock up of fuel which might burn the summers in the years to come? The circle is vicious and unending.
The lessons in this state of affairs are never learnt. Instead of adopting reconciliatory measures, salt is sprayed over the wounds. The festering wounds are left unattended and the result is obvious. The blame is, howsoever unashamed and unapologetic, blatantly placed on the wounds. Is there anybody who is introspecting and revisiting the policies for its positives and negatives? It seems that the Kashmir policy is driven more upon the emotive and collective patriotic factors than on logics, reasons and rationalities. The issues are raked up out of nothingness. Among some recent ones, Afzal Guru is hanged for satisfying the collective conscience. NIT row is kicked over a losing cricket match. Handwara girl incident consumes four lives without a reason. And there are many in the pipeline with enough potential to spark out new flames of unrest. The issues that were nowhere in sight for the last 70 years have suddenly cropped out and the passions are flared to the extent of burning everything that comes in the way.
Another feature that spoils the matters further are the media trials and the emotionally pre-determined verdicts. The speaking panel members that shape up prime time over the screens charge up the passions and establish an opinion which is completely skewed and detrimental to the nation not to talk of Kashmir alone. Most of the people who know nothing about Kashmir have become the News room experts just by reading a couple of books written on swayed premises and Kashmir maligning analysis. These self-proclaimed News room experts unfortunately erect a blind wall for the citizens of India to peep through and understand the finer threads that have been naively entangled in the process. These opinion makers unwittingly charge up the emotions on wrong hypothesis that result in wrong policy making.
Over the years, incident after incident nothing has changed. The fissures have grown and the hearts are blackened. Every small ripple causes a storm and every small issue becomes the prestige point that widens the cracks between the sides. While flipping the screen slides on social media one is terrified by the venom spewing remarks exchanged between the two sides of the line. The bitterness is mounting with the spirally cascading impact to jam all channels of reconciliation. The bridges are being burnt and Kashmir is being pushed into the dark tunnel of hatred and alienation. Nowhere in the recent future does a ray of hope seem to cast over the evil shadows. Nowhere does a respite in the blood bath seem to emerge. No measures of appeasement or resolution are in apparent perspective arrangements. Trading of accusations and abuses on the television channels and social media compounded with the unprofessional handling of things on ground are bound to worsen the already fragile relations.
(The writer is a post-graduate in Management Studies from the University of Kashmir)