Why Not A Ceasefire For Ramadhan?

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by Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat

Killings, encounters, protests, cordon and search operations (CASO), and stone pelting is not at all coming to halt.  During last two wweks, nearly 40 Kashmiri youth were killed during encounters and subsequent protests. It is true that majority of them have waged a direct war against the Indian state. But same is the case from another side.

Narendra Modi is not going to win Kashmiri’s hearts and minds through his Operation All Out. In fact it will bring more death and destruction. More and more youth will come forward to fight this battle with bare hands. In view of the continuous killings, people across Kashmir valley are under stress and trauma. There are chaos and confusion everywhere. People are not able to cogitate what to do or what not to?

On one side we blame Indian establishment for killings and mayhem, but on the other hand, we accuse Hurriyat leadership as well for having no road map or a clear blueprint vis a vis Kashmir’s political discourse. We also accuse Pakistan of not coming to our rescue? We also blame 57 Islamic countries for being mum over the killings and destruction in Kashmir. We feel rejected, dejected on all fronts. It seems the Almighty Allah is also not at all listening to our woes and frustration. We are in a messy state of despondency and desolation.

Killings, encounters and stone pelting are no more a matter of discussion and debate for prime time TV show anchors In Delhi. They are instead busy discussing Karnataka elections. Priorities have changed in Delhi. They don’t want to listen about Kashmir and are instead busy to have better relations with China so as to alienate Pakistan.

In view of 2019, LokSabha elections, it seems BJP will not engage in a dialogue process with Pakistan or with Hurriyat leadership in Jammu & Kashmir. But why isn’t Modi behaving like a statesman? He has handed over Kashmir to his eight lakh armed forces. On a routine, they kill a dozen militants on weekly basis and the same number of protesting young civilians as well.

These killings are not creating a pressure on our youth to shun the path of violence. Instead, more and more young boys are coming forward to fight Indian state and get killed. This is not early 1990s when a platoon of Army would cordon a village and thrash people upside down. The oppression, torture and subjugation have not made Kashmiris surrender but in fact the new generation is more resilient and militant.

In the present day Cordon and Search Operations (CASOs) youth come out and fight the troops carrying assault rifles, LMGs, mortar guns with bare hands and stones. They are ready to die to protect militants who are symbols of resistance for a large number of Kashmiri youth.

Salman Khan, Amir Khan or even Shahid Afridi are no more role models or heroes for ordinary Kashmir youth. For a large number of young men Burhan Wani, Zakir Moosa, Saddam Padder or Sameer Tiger are their role models and heroes.

In-spite of being warned by Army Chief himself that those who try to create trouble during CASOs will be treated as militants, the youth, on the other hand, are ready to die and this is a matter of grave concern. When young men used to see soldiers or STF men in 1990s or early 2000, they would try to save their skin and run here and there, but today youth are not only confronting them but chasing and booing them with sticks, bricks and stones. They are fully aware that they would receive bullets in return and are ready to get killed. On daily basis we see youth getting killed and injured.

The government of India is least bothered to start a political dialogue. Pakistan, on the other hand, has its own internal political crises and Kashmir is not a priority issue for them right now. The situation is taking an ugly turn. Youth are getting more and more radicalized and hardcore. Kashmir can be a new battleground for Islamic State or similar organizations and by that time things would be out of control for everybody. This is a serious trend and needs a solution which is not a military solution but a political dialogue between people of Jammu &Kashmir, Pakistan and India.

The death of four young boys at Khudwani in Kulgam in a recent incident proves that youth are becoming more resilient and angry day by day. These deaths did not stop young men to come forward and become the literal human shield for militants.

The recent Badigam Shopian incident has proved it, again. Six civilians died when they came forward throwing rocks and bricks on security forces while the village was cordoned which finally lead to the death of four Hizb ul Mujahideen and Kashmir University Assistant Professor Dr Mohammad Rafi Bhat. This anger cannot be addressed through force or military might, but it has to be addressed with compassion.

In this scenario, it is an ordinary Kashmiri who is facing the music. We are getting killed, maimed and injured. Our properties are being destroyed on daily basis. Our economy and education is at stake. We live a miserable life and nobody around the world is bothered to even to appeal India to stop the bloodbath.

I believe Narendra Modi, instead of acting like a leader of Hindu India, should come forward and behave like a statesman. He must follow the roadmap of Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Almost 18 years back on November 19, 2000, Vajpayee had announced a unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of fasting, the Ramadhan. Why can’t Modi announce a similar unilateral ceasefire in the upcoming Ramadhan? Why can’t he halt Operation All Out in Kashmir for a month and release all the political prisoners and activists of Hurriyat and other pro-freedom groups? Let us hope there is a forward movement as Modi is flying to Srinagar on the second of Ramadhan.

(Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is Founder of Jammu & Kashmir RTI Movement. Ideas expressed in this article are his own.)

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