The Poster Boys of Kashmir

There is a relentless battle going on to create icons for the youth to pull them into different directions….

Historians of world, particularly of Kashmir, will write nineties in bold letters. The period saw population up in arms against the mighty Indian state. This period witnessed violence all around, The gun being the order of the day. It took the Indian government more than a decade to suppress militancy by force. The only policy with the government was to suppress the revolt by force and so was the case with the militants. Their policy was also what government had, to force the government into submission by gun.

Both sides seem to have adapted to the changing circumstances. The policy is now to wean away the youth by using less coercive ways from opposite camps. The creation of icons for the Kashmiri youth has been employed to serve these interests of the both parties. Kashmiri’s love hero worship and it has always been there. Style, grace and courage matters a lot now. It is what people especially youth cherish.

Media has been at the forefront of creating these icons and hero’s. The exposure to the media has expedited it. Heroes and villains are created in minutes. With android phones and net packs connectivity is possible everywhere. Social media especially what’s up, facebook are seen buzzing when something heroic is done by any Kashmiri. The likes and comments reveal all this. Some uploads by these icons get thousands of the likes and comments.

The valley’s first topper in the coveted IAS exam, Shah Feasal was instantly turned into a role model for the youth. Even the then prime minister of India on his visit to Kashmir made a reference to him. His advice to youth was to do what Shah Faisal did. There was relentless campaign by the local and the national media to capture the imagination of the youth and they were successful. He became a household name. We see now more and more people joining the IAS, KAS ranks.

The next in the line was the cricketer from the north Kashmir.  Parveez Rasool became a household name. Cricket maniac’s glued to sets to see their man bowl and bat. He is the most talked boy when India goes for any match. Kashmiri’s likes to see their boy in the team and when he is not, they feel irritated. Many have now chosen cricket as their career option.

Roushan Illahi popularly known as M C KASH is renowned for hisrap songs. He has used a unique and innovative way to vent his feelings against the state. His song, ‘I protest’ was sung by thousands in the uprising of the 2008-10. His songs are almost in every androids, blackberries and Samsungs. 

Apart from some Kashmiri based known icons, there are various jour-nalists, young writers from every corner of Jammu and Kashmir who share their experiences and these are locally cherished and iconised. The myths associated with these figures are sold like hot cakes in the market. Everyone continues to believe what their icons and peers do. And in Kashmir myths and stories spread like wild fire as sir Walter-Lawrence wrote in his famous book, ‘the Vale of Kashmir’.

There is also another side of the story. Kashmir has now witnessed renewed militancy. Young, educated and energetic boys have joined their ranks. Dressed elegantly in army uniforms these boys have created an impression. Their facebook page, photos and video’s have gone viral. Many facebook users have kept their photos as profile pic-tures. Burhan Ahmad Wani and his associates are becoming famous day by day. They seem to do what government does, create icons and use internet to further their interests. The impression these boys have made has put security establishments on their toes.

The psychological impression is bound to alter the behaviour of the youth. Unfortunately the pullings from different sides is confusing. In a region of conflict, it is necessary that youth should be given a sense of direction and media can play a role in it. In fact, whoever wins the psychological warfare wins the battle. In rural areas people like chatting which is their perfect past time. People like to sit in groups to discuss new happenings. The icons and their life stories are discussed and praised. The more the iconic penetration in their minds, the more they will tread their path along their peers. 

The author is an activist pursuing MBAand the dream of breaking the status quo. He hails from village Nazneenpora, Shopian. He can be reached at [email protected]/ @Syedtajamulimran)

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