The author is a law student at Christ University, Bengaluru

At the start, I am extremely grief-stricken on the killing of 44 martyrs in the Pulwama District of Jammu and Kashmir. I Pray for the families of these martyrs and wish for them all the strength, support, and courage.

I have come across certain posts on social media platforms wherein people have expressed their anger by stating that we should go on an all-out war with Pakistan, revoke Article 370, take away the subsidies given to Kashmiris, and some have even gone to say that we should give away Kashmir. These are just some of the stupid comments I have come across and the list is never ending.

Firstly, these people should understand that it is very easy for us to say that India should do another surgical strike or wage a war against Pakistan while sitting in our living rooms and watching the news. Don’t tell the army what to do, as they know what to do better than us. The cost of war is extremely high and with that you do nothing but just put the life of so many army men at risk, more than it already is.

Secondly, the revocation of article 370 or giving away the state to an already unstable country is not the solution. Kashmir is a part of India and will continue to be only if we understand the core issue revolving around Jammu and Kashmir, Kashmiris and Kashmiriyat. If there are martyrs, don’t forget they are innocent civilians who die every day in Kashmir (highest in 2018 in 71 years of Independence) and whose killing is justified under AFSPA. Feel the same aggression for the deaths of these people as well if you really consider Kashmir to be a part of India and take so much pride in it. A loss is a loss, whether it’s a one-year-old Kashmiri girl, a CRPF jawan or any other person.

Terrorism should end, the perpetrators of violence should be punished, whether it’s a Kashmiri militant, an army officer or any other person and all terror groups should be annihilated.

However I believe we should ask ourselves as well as the government some important questions:

1. How did the usually secretive movement of CRPF battalions get leaked? Is it not an intelligence failure? How can a terrorist carrying 300 kilos of explosives get to strike at the center of this convoy? How has our legendary surveillance failed here? Who is ruling Kashmir now and in last several years? Whose Intelligence is failing? Kashmir is under President’s rule for a year or more now, and was earlier for three years under PDP-BJP government.

2. A speeding vehicle laden with over 350 kilograms of explosives, cruising down the wrong side in the most militarised zone in the country rams into a paramilitary convoy. The death toll goes up. Our sentiments get instigated. The media for few weeks stops talking about corrupt activities of the BJP, and the Rafale deal, or the citizenship bill. We notice mass hate against Kashmiris. And all of this is happening just two months before the Indian general election? Coincidence? Sure.

3. Further, why is Kashmir in such a mess today, worse than any situation since 2000? There was a huge turnout (72 percent) and the large majority of seats were won by PDP in Kashmir and BJP in Jammu (53 out of 87 seats). An unlikely PDP-BJP government was sworn in, and in Lal Maidan of Srinagar, Indian PM Modi and Kashmir CM Mufti promised a Rs 10,000-crore development package to the people. But, not even 10 percent of it saw the light of the day; PDP and BJP kept bickering, and BJP unilaterally withdrew the support, and the government fell. President’s rule was imposed.

4. Why was the huge turnout of electorate in last assembly and a historic government formation was turned into an opportunity lost? Those who are ruling Kashmir and at the Centre need to give a white paper on what they have actually done for the people, and why this situation persists today. Indigenous militancy within J&K is currently complimenting cross-border terrorism, and sadly so.

5. Why are even civilians turning against the government and joining home grown militancy? If Kashmir is bleeding, why is the rest of India not disturbed enough? If Kashmir is an integral part of India, why isn’t there any political solution in spite of the peaceful polls four years ago?

6. And wasn’t the terror funding finished by demonetization? From where do the terrorists get so many arms and money? What purpose have the surgical strikes served? Or was this merely for political optics and use in Bollywood and in political campaigns by the ruling party which is so regrettable indeed? There were surgical strikes done many times earlier, but no government chose to politically capitalise army action in the past, as is being done by the current government.

The Indian television news media, by and large, shamelessly in quest of the TRPs, is milking the human and terror crisis of Kashmir, and calling for war with Pakistan, which is decidedly a rogue and a nuclear state. No, a full-scale no-holds-barred war cannot be a solution. It will aggravate the situation, can lead to a high number of civilian casualties on both the sides, and can lead to use of weapons of mass destruction.

We have to understand a painful reality of the day. A disturbed Kashmir is in the interest of Pakistan so that it gets more money and arms from the US, using Kashmir crisis as an alibi. It also ensures the stranglehold of the Pakistani army and ISI on the civilian society, business at large and bureaucracy there. On the other hand, a disturbed Kashmir gives India the opportunity to amass more arms, and as we know, India is the biggest importer of arms and ammunitions in the world (still short on many crucial military infrastructure). It helps some Indian political forces to polarise votes in the elections season.

A disturbed Kashmir helps the army, and the local police to get higher budget, and a free run for their actions (sometimes needed, sometimes exceeded). A disturbed Kashmir is great for the terrorists to raise resources globally, and run their propaganda machinery.

A disturbed Kashmir is great for local politicians and Azad Kashmir apologists as their political nuisance value remains intact only then. Only the ordinary Kashmiri stands to lose on all fronts with the mess there. That’s the sad scenario.

Yes, terrorism must be crushed. Let military do their job professionally. But the people of Kashmir must also be won over. That cannot be done by pellet attacks on children. That cannot be done by an ordinary Kashmiri who came to vote, but was put up as a shield on an army jeep. That cannot be done by routinely clamping down on media and internet in the valley. That cannot be done by putting Kashmir against Jammu politically. That cannot be done by standing for rapists just because they are Hindus while the little child raped is a Muslim girl.

For now, I can’t do anything more than feel sad, light a candle, donate some money for the families of these martyrs. But the least I can do is ask the right questions to the right people and spread awareness on the issue and help people to think about the whole issue rationally. If we continue to believe only what the Indian media wants to show us and not understand the other side of the issue, the problem of Kashmir can never be solved. How we see Kashmir and what we feel for it as citizens of this country is extremely important and will play a major role in deciding the future of J&K. For it is our emotions which are used by these political parties to take their propaganda forward. It’s the time to have a balanced perspective, it’s time to educate, it’s time to empower, and it’s time to change.

image courtesy: PTI

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