Between Sainik Colony, Conflict and Aspirations: Kashmir at Cross Roads?

 SRINAGAR: Three observations made and a question posed to Kashmir Observer by Kashmiris from different socio economic backgrounds and age groups are both suggestive and indicative. Person A asked KO: What does the Sainik Colony issue mean and entail for Kashmir and Kashmiris? He added,’ I don’t want my children to be captive to conflict and the uncertainty thereof. I am disturbed”. Person B asserted, “  I am on the horns of a dilemma;  I am a small business owner. I have responsibilities towards my employees; I need to pay rent, salaries and what have you yet at the same time I want to be part of the hartal(strike) against the creation of Kashmiri Pandit ghettoes in Kashmir by the BJP. Person C stated, ‘Kashmir needs development and investment if not to thrive but to survive. You can attract investment and get development only if you allow outsiders into the state. Referring to conflict and a prudent conflict resolution paradigm, Person C added, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”.

 The age bracket these people fell into ranged from 28-40. In other words, these individuals were young. They had something to look forward to in terms of their lives and life trajectories. Yet , 2 out of three were disturbed and distraught at the development or potential development of Sainik colonies in Kashmir and the potential of conflict escalation thereof.  What do then the comments of these individuals means? Admittedly, the sample is small but it may be safe to posit that the three comments may reflect the overall sentiment of the youth bulge in Kashmir.
Kashmiri opinion is divided or more accurately conflicted but at the same time uniform too. The axis of division revolves around rational selves of Kashmiris and their emotional selves. Rationally, Kashmiris want to grow , develop and live peaceful lives- a fair and a very rational aspiration. Emotionally Kashmiris want a just and sober resolution of the conflict on and over Kashmir. (Emotionalism –not referred to disparagingly here- blurs into concerns over identity). This constant and consistent tug of war in the Kashmiri collective unconscious is now the nub of the issue in Kashmir now.   How each denoues and/or which one prevails will determine the character of the conflict in and over Kashmir- after discounting , to an extent, extraneous factors. 
However, what is alarming is the current state of politics in the state – especially Kashmir division of the state. There is a sense of drift and directionless in the politics of the state- both mainstream and separatist. Overlaying this drift is the conflicted psyche of Kashmiris. This addled condition is poked and needled by the BJP’s agenda over Kashmir. The question then is: what will all this lead to?
The answer is obvious. Unless and until the politics of the state is focussed, conditions in Kashmir will drift and regress. Kashmir, to borrow  a Nietzschean  phrase, is peering into the abyss. Only prudent and focused politics and statecraft can take it out from the abyss and restore Kashmiri consciousness and the collective fragmented selves of Kashmiris some form of closure. But as of now, this kind of statecraft and politics does not seem to be forthcoming. Consider the mainstream spectrum of politics. They neither appear to have a plan to combat dark forces nor do they appear to have anticipatory plans of action to take Kashmir to a different but salubrious plane. The mainstream like its political adversary then is a fragmented lot with no cohesive plan or program for Kashmir. Their politics appears to be predicated on ad hocism and is very unstructured. The separatists too are a divided lot. Added up the inference that can be drawn from all this is that dark forebodings hover over Kashmir. If no one reads these and fails to take pre-emptive action, a very dark future awaits Kashmir and its people.   The “Kashmir Curse” will then be the pervasive and dominant reality of Kashmir and in an interlinked world may have regional connotations too. Alas!


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