The struggle has changed its course completely with the angry younger generation coming to the forefront and taking bullets in their chests thereby declaring that even death would not deter them from seeking their legitimate demands of political settlement of Kashmir dispute.
When the youth, which is actually future of a nation, rises up to create their own destiny, they usually do – including of their nations.
The present situation in Kashmir is a warning to the Indian state by these youth mostly teenagers whom they would until sometime before term as “miscreants” that they cannot be taken for granted. They have stood up to seek freedom and expect New Delhi to respect their feelings and acknowledge it with honesty and maturity.
Fortunately some sense has prevailed upon the politicians in the central as well as state government and the Prime Minister has finally termed the situation in Kashmir as grim which requires immediate attention. To me, attending the problem would mean ultimately resolving it.
The sacrifices of all these youngsters and the fact that people are on roads from last three months, least bothered about getting killed or hurt have forced New Delhi to acknowledge that the struggle in Kashmir is not for economic development, but there is a larger issue which is the real cause of unrest and anger amongst people of J&K.
It took 60 innocent lives in the past three months for Government of India to acknowledge in the parliament that the Kashmir problem needs to be dealt with politically. We cannot forget the sacrifices of all those who lost their lives or loved ones in last 20 years of armed struggle but we also cannot undermine the role of these “stone pelters” in the sense that for the first time in last many decades Government of India and the main opposition party in New Delhi have publicly acknowledged that the people of J&K are seeking a permanent political settlement of Kashmir dispute.
In case the problem as acknowledged by Government of India is not addressed soon, then I am afraid they would not be in a position to control it even if they wish to. Therefore, the sooner the better, for all the stake holders.
In order to address the conflict and respect the sentiments of the people of J&K this is the right time where our leaderships on both the sides should immediately and without wasting any further time start to address the dispute and work together for reaching towards the much awaited solution of allowing the people of J&K to chose their destiny. For any problem to be resolved it is necessary to identify and acknowledge the problem first.
Besides the dispute should be addressed in such a manner so that parties to the dispute are satisfied. This can never be achieved unless talks are resumed with the intention and willingness to address the issue keeping in view the aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Most of the youngsters protesting on roads besides seeking their right to determine their future are also showing their anger against the excesses by armed forces together with disproportionate use of force resulting in civilian deaths. Immediate revocation of grant of impunity to the forces under AFSPA would definitely help in restoring some trust amongst the people of Kashmir which could ultimately lead to a conducive atmosphere to discuss the political settlement of Kashmir dispute. Further in any democratic society there should be a freedom to protest peacefully which is unimaginable in Kashmir. Youth of Kashmir require a space to vent their anger in a democratic manner and to protest against the wrongdoings of the government. This space needs to be restored, in order to make them feel that the state respects them as any other human being in any part of the world.
History makes it amply clear that we have been cheated and betrayed through false promises by Indian State for last many years, so the government of India needs to take some measures to build trust in order to invite the separatist leadership for discussing the resolution of the problem. By taking these trust building steps, New Delhi will help the separatist leadership to show flexibility in their approach as well. Unless trust is restored, result cannot be achieved.
I am afraid the present crisis, if not responded to by leaders from both sides immediately, would have a damaging impact not only on J&K but also on India as a nation.
Therefore it is high time the conflict is resolved forever in order to put an end to the ongoing violence in the valley.
(The writer is a lawyer at J&K High Court, Srinagar.)