Peerbagh Murder: Kashmir’s Angry Young Men

A young man was murdered in Peerbagh a few days ago. The police version states that the main accused in the crime was  a “bisexual” and that he was in a relationship with the murdered. The accused pretended to be a girl who would speak to the murdered on phone masquerading as a girl. This had been going on for while till the accused’s cover blew up; the murdered, in a fit of rage, entered into a scuffle with the accused but the accused, in the melee, murdered the deceased victim.  This, to repeat, is the police version; it may or may not be entirely correct but for the purposes of our analysis we will take the police version as the peg for our analysis. The parents of the accused have questioned the police version stating that , “ they were pretty much sure of their son’s gender orientation.( The reference here is to being  “transsexual or transvestite). And that the accused was meek and gentle so much so that he would not even think of let alone commit a crime that was of a gory nature. 

The question is: whose version is correct? Or more accurately, where does the truth lie? 

We cannot answer this question- definitively or with any degree of certainty.  However, we can build a hypothesis around the nature of the crime and the general drift of our society-especially our youth.

The essential and the real nature of the problem is that Kashmir’s youth are angry. This does not necessarily or always pertain to the conflict in and over Kashmir. The anger of Kashmir’s youth stems from many sources and themes but then youth generally speaking are angry- the transition from adolescence to adult hood is not always seamless. This transition makes for both emotional turbulence and emotional vulnerability. However, in “normal milieus” , the transition does take place and by and large youth become “normal, law abiding and productive” members of society- at peace with themselves and the world at large. But the story is different in Kashmir. First, there is the conflict and the issues it raises and the uncertainty thereof. Then there is the traditional nature of Kashmiri society which jostles with a world where media- social, conventional, and entertainment- has gone “berserk”. And where, generally speaking, societies are in transition. In this world imagination is unchained and titillation of a nature that excites and propels the imagination and impulses is unleashed. This is overlain by a constrained opportunity structure, in terms of career options and have you , for the youth. All this is complemented by a very “easy” life in Kashmir; young men neither have to earn their living or status in society nor are there any great “bread and butter” issues for Kashmir’s youth. What accrues and emanates from this “easy” life is a sense of great entitlement and a lackadaisical attitude towards life. There’s virtually no great struggles for the youth of Kashmir in terms of bread and butter issues; this cute across segments of society.

The picture that emanates from these paradoxical features of the “inner” and “outer” worlds of Kashmir’s young men is that of great “inner conflict” and anger. This conflict and anger is suppressed. There’s very few , if any, vents-sport, normal entertainment, vigorous reading or writing culture- in Kashmir for our youth. The consequences are obvious: bottled up rage and anger which manifests itself in fraught conditions.

So if the police version of the Peerbagh murder is correct, then the sequence of events that have happened which led to the murder make sense. The bottled up rage, fantasies and imaginations of the two youth in contention-the accused and the murdered- get aroused after the “ accused’s”  cover is blown and then in a fit of rage what determines who dies or stays alive is a matter of a trial of strength.

There’s also another angle to the whole saga- the types of personalities that the paradoxical social, political, emotional and psychical conditions obtaining in Kashmir begets. If the accused is taken as an example and if the police version is correct, then the case is a classic example of a split personality in the nature of the famed Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story. It needs to be stated here that Dr. Jekyll was the nice, gentle doctor who after taking a concoction morphs into an enraged, murderous man at night. The aim here is not to demean the accused but to put things into perspective. Here there is a lesson for parents and even society at large: children can take on any personality especially if the stimulus they are subject is paradoxical and contradictory. This may be the case with the accused. His “ gender orientation” as suggested by the police, meek nature, the masquerading as a girl for over a year and then exploding in rage suggests this.

What then are the lessons we , as a society can draw? 

There are issues and structural factors that nothing can realistically be done about-the conflict in and over Kashmir but there are aspects that we have control over. These pertain to the social, emotional and extra social stimuli that youth are subject to. Here parents have a critical role to play by being friends to their children and though this delve into the emotional worlds of our young men. Monitoring of behaviors may be helpful too. But this can work only upto a point. When and if parents notice something remiss which they can do nothing about, they must seek professional help for their children. Counseling and, at times, medication, may be critically need by those in serious problems. Society should also be understanding and not necessarily judgmental. In combination, these measures- parental empathy, counseling and advice , coupled by , when need be professional help may help our young men with their anger issues and , at certain times, save lives too. Transition to adulthood in any context and situation is fraught and delicate- more so, in conflict situations. Let’s all do our bit to make it easier for our youth.

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