Kashmir - Questioning the Unending Cycle of Protest

For the first time in decades many local Kashmiris are beginning to question the wisdom of repeated calls for life disrupting hartals, strikes and protests for one cause or the other.

08 July 2021

For the first time in decades many local Kashmiris are beginning to question the wisdom of repeated calls for life disrupting hartals, strikes and protests for one cause or the other.

It is well known in the Kashmir Valley that separatists, militants and other pro-Pakistan forces consistently use every occasion to popularize any anti-India event. It is like event management with the sole aim being to portray New Delhi and the Indian government as the Satan responsible for the terrible condition of people in the Kashmir Valley.

Every occasion, be it the Martyrs Day (originally meant to commemorate the Kashmiris martyred by the erstwhile Maharaja in the year 1931) or the innumerable "Black Days" to mark some long-forgotten event, is used as an example of Indian oppression or cruelty against the Kashmiri people.

This has become a well-known propagandist strategy. The idea is to keep up the anti-India tirade and eventually the common people will believe in it.

While this strategy has helped keep the anti-India pot boiling it has also done immense harm to Kashmir, which today is associated with protest, radicalism and constant protest.

As a result, mainstream industries, including the hi-tech sectors, have completely bypassed Kashmir. Tourism too is not at the level it should be. Pro-Pakistan Kashmiris have, in fact, shot themselves in the foot and crippled the future of young Kashmiris, justifying it in the name of the cause of accession to Pakistan. But it has been a heavy price, paid for by the broken future of Kashmiri aspirations.

Today, however, for the first time there is a glimmer of realization among sections of the Kashmiri youth that the three decades of violence, killings and protests have not yielded anything positive. In anything, it has ensured they do not have a share of the enormous beneficial changes taking place in the world. They are stuck in a dreadful backwater and blaming it all on New Delhi does not help.

This time, during one of the recently established protest days, created to mark the killing of popular militant leader Burhan Wani who was killed on 8 July 2016 in a shootout with Indian forces, there is some introspection.

Several posts on Twitter and other social media platform found people questioning the efficacy or point of such protests. This could be a beginning of change.

Already, statistics point to a drastic reduction in protests in Kashmir, including stone pelting which was a popular form of protest for several years. Stone pelting events which peaked at 2,653 (Government figures) in 2016 following the killing of Burhan Wani, continued over the years: 1,412 in 2017, 1,458 in 2018 and 1,999 in 2019. In 2020, however, this figure plummeted to just 250.

Clearly some new processes are at work and it cannot be attributed solely to the abrogation of Article 370 and end of statehood, which should logically have increased such protests.

Today, some posts point to the severe disruptions repeated protests have caused to life in general in Kashmir and to education in particular. The young continue to suffer and many see a dark future ahead of them. A rising number of your Kashmiris have opted for suicide in recent times unable to come out of their depression.

This is a horrible trend and a direct legacy of the faulty strategies followed by the separatists and their pro-Pakistan supporters. The more they continue along these lines the darker will the future of young Kashmiris be. These are difficult times all over the world and to stay afloat, there is no alternative to spend young energies to build, create and innovate for the future. Protests, stone pelting and rallies are a one-way street to perdition.

Md. Sadiq

08 July 2021