Chaotic Rhythms

Arshid Malik

 Kashmir conflict is a dangerous mix of political, geographic, religious and economic factors effectuating an interplay of a multitude of actors, some of whom are designated proponents or opponents of the “struggle” in Kashmir while others are ubiquitously unapparent with a stake or two in the whole state of affairs. This mix of interests and actors renders the conflict in Kashmir untenable in terms of reaching a juncture where it could be stated that the conflict is going through a state of what one may diplomatically categorize as a “post-conflict” situation.

The armed insurgency which started back in the year 1988 has been “silenced” to a major extent but skirmishes between the Indian armed forces and militants from within the state and elsewhere as also between the two “contesting” nations of India and Pakistan on the border continue to make to major headlines every almost every other day. People of the state who hold the primary stake in the whole affair are somehow jinxed in the political-cum-economic parallax which neither lets them move ahead in time and nor lets them be dragged down to a situation that could be particularly said to be on the “boil”.

I am perturbed by one factor in correlation with the actual state in Kashmir and that is the crime graph which has undergone a steep incline over the past few years. Had it been stably proven that Kashmir is going through a post-conflict era, exclusions and inclusions could be made on the basis of that but since it is not the case the reciprocating factors never lead to a closure?Now, where does one lead with the crime graph – with young boys stabbing each other to death, a motorcycle-borne youth shooting a girl perhaps just for the heck of it and numerous other cases of social violence (point in case which have been reported by the local press in the past month or so), not to mention sexual molestation of young boys and girls even at pious institutions meant for imparting religious education.

These are society inward crimes and these are retrogressively indicative of a post-conflict demeanour. There are other serious crime reported every other day where institutions are involved and the nature of the criminal act maybe financial, economic, and corruption-related offenses e.g., bribery, money laundering, abuse of office, embezzling public funds, and customs and tax evasion which is so very common down here but perhaps not graphed as yet besides trafficking and smuggling of goods; and crimes against persons or property e.g., murder, human trafficking, kidnapping, arson, and vehicle theft – and these are not rarities down here in Kashmir but rather a daily affair which certainly goes unnoticed since we are not sure whether we are inside or outside of the conflict by now. The signs of gravity appear when we look at the eventual fortification of such crimes which will evolve over time. In some situations, use of violence for political aims may be particularly destabilizing in the immediate aftermath of conflict. Over time, however, financial crime and deep-seated state corruption may emerge as the greatest threat to the peace.

Are we equipped to deal with the rising crime graphs in Kashmir and more importantly are the law-enforcing agencies and law-making bodies equipped to deal with such crimes and informed about the devastating effect these will have on the eventual “fallout” of the conflict or are they just busy counting them in as casual incidents of malfeasance. There is great need to circumspect the girth of the conflict in Kashmir, measure the vibrancy of socially chaotic rhythms in Kashmir in order to pre-assess mass criminality emerging here eventually catching us off-guard.

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