In a situation within which vested interests remain harvesters of everything in the name of national interest and defending status quo, it is the ordinary people of Kashmir valley who are of least concern for the policymakers in Delhi, Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain writes.
In early sixties and seventies, the phenomenon of stone pelting and curfew used to be privilege of Down- Town Srinagar. Uptown seldom used to experience it. In spite of being on the periphery of Srinagar City, they had no experience of witnessing stone pelting.
Nowadays, the phenomenon has engulfed whole of the valley and sometimes even areas in vicinity of Kashmir valley across Peer-Panchal also experience it. This situation remains there in spite of so many initiatives taken by the state and the central governments to engage youth. So many of these initiatives were taken through state departments whereas others like Sadbhavna where pursued through Army or para-military forces.
It seems that all these initiatives have failed to yield any results and Kashmiris continues to be an alienated lot. With every passing year, Kashmir is often overtaken by more lethal modes of protests. The span and rigor of these protests keeps on expanding with every new phase of agitation. Dissatisfied population and self-defeating policies create avenues of such agitations almost every year. The State has failed to contain these, though all types of oppressive measures and draconian laws have been used.
What has been the fate of the above mentioned initiatives pertained to youth, same seems to be the destiny of various measures taken by government of India after 2010 agitation. Whatever was promised to youth is proving to be an illusion, like the initiatives in the political domain for example, appointment of interlocutors or assurance conveyed to Kashmiris through All Party Parliamentary Delegation that visited Jammu and Kashmir in 2010. Even interlocutors themselves expressed their dismay over the fate of the peace process and measures suggested by them.
The students who were lured to take admission in various education institutions across India are, of late, taken over by a nightmare. They ventured to go to these educational institutions with a perception that their financial needs will be taken care of through the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme. After getting admitted and investing out of their own or borrowed resources, the students are increasingly becoming desperate because the institutions are demanding heavy amounts of fee and the scholarship promised are not forthcoming.
It seems that the scheme was either a lollipop simply to pacify the agitated lot of Kashmiri population or has been hijacked by some middlemen who are utilizing it to the advantage of their kith and kin, or diverting it towards those for whom it was never meant.
This diversion started at highest level. One of the interlocutors managed to get a hostel allocated to her parent institution in the name of providing education and accommodation to Kashmiri students. The huge amount allocated to the institutions was meant to facilitate accommodation of four hundred students. Consequently, number of seats for Kashmiri students within that institution should have been accordingly increased. This didn’t happen, making it obvious that name of Kashmiri students was simply used for allocation of funds. The way high-ups make to divert funds same way some forums and NGOs are using these either for political or for individuals gains.
Ordinary student has been left without any assistance. For some whose parents were unable to support their education and who embarked upon going for higher studies in anticipation of support from the scheme, admissions have become an avenue of debt trap.
They took loans with the hope that once scholarship is awarded, they will be able to pay back but now they are unable to get anything and the loans are becoming a source of problems for the families.
It is established once more that common Kashmiris are of least concern for the policy makers of Delhi. Their concern is and remains a pampered group of people. This group consumes and has been consuming everything that comes from Delhi and masses seldom become its beneficiary. The pampered lot assumes the role of protection of so-called national interests in Kashmir branding others as anti-nationals, thereby contributing the phenomenon of alienation. Sincere efforts demand transparent mechanism of execution and such mechanisms can’t be visualized in a situation within which vested interests remain harvesters of everything in the name of defending status quo and branding everything else as a stone-pelter or a militant.
The author is a senior faculty at Department of Law, University of Kashmir. Views expressed are his own.