MAMOSA Report — As South Asia’s most restive region stares down the abyss of what a BBC commentator calls another “hot summer of violence”, the doom-laden headline has returned with a vengeance: Is India losing held-Kashmir?
Last summer was one of the bloodiest in the Muslim-dominated valley in recent years. Following the killing of influential militant Burhan Wani by Indian forces last July, more than 100 civilians lost their lives in clashes during a four-month-long security lockdown in the valley.
It’s not looking very promising this summer, reports BBC – a view sounded off by several media outlets including Aljazeera.
This month’s parliamentary election in Srinagar was scarred by violence and a record-low turnout of voters. To add fuel to the fire, graphic social videos surfaced claiming to show abuses by security forces and young people who oppose Indian rule. A full-blown protest by Kashmiri students has now erupted on the streets; and, in a rare sight, even schoolgirls are pelting stones and hitting police vehicles.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of Indian-held Kashmir, who leads an awkward ruling coalition with the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), rushed to Delhi on Monday to urge the federal government to “announce a dialogue and show reconciliatory gestures.”
Reports say Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh told her that they could not “offer a dialogue with separatists and other restive groups in the (occupied) valley” while fierce violence and militant attacks continued.
Former chief minister and leader of the regional National Conference party Farooq Abdullah warned that India was “losing Kashmir”. What Mr Abdullah suggested was unexceptionable: the Indian government should begin talking with the stakeholders – Pakistan, the separatists, mainstream parties, the minority Kashmiri Hindus – and start “thinking of not a military solution, but a political way”.
Shekhar Gupta, a leading columnist, says that while Kashmir is “territorially secure, we are fast losing it emotionally and psychologically”. The abysmal 7% turnout in the Srinagar poll last week proved that “while your grip on the land is firm, you are losing its people”.
So what is new about Kashmir that is worrying India and even provoking senior army officials to admit that the situation is fragile?
For one, a more reckless and alienated younger generation of local youth is now leading the anti-India protests. More than 60% of the men in the valley are under 30. Many of them are angry and confused.
Most Kashmiris in the occupied valley say the government should be more worried about “political radicalization” of the young, and that fears of religious radicalization were exaggerated and overblown.
Also, the low turnout in this month’s elections has rattled the region’s mainstream parties. “If mainstream politics is delegitimized and people refuse to vote for them, the vacuum will be obviously filled up with a disorganized mob-led constituency,” Mr Mattoo of the National Conference said.
In his memoirs, Amarjit Singh Daulat, the former chief of RAW, India’s spy agency, wrote that “nothing is constant; least of all Kashmir”. But right now, the anomie and anger of the youth, and a worrying people’s revolt against Indian rule appear to be the only constant.
(Based on original report by BBC)