Day 13th: How Will Battle of Wills in Kashmir Play Out?


Srinagar: As the Vale of Kashmir reels under curfew and protests for the 13th day after Burhan Wani’s killing, the momentum behind protests shows no signs of abating. However, what is significant is the “battle of wills” between the separatist conglomerate, the Hurriyet Conference which stands united as of now and the government of Jammu and Kashmir. The separatist camp had stated that there would be a relaxation in the protest calendar from 2 pm on the 21st of July, 2016. The premise of this relaxation appears to have been to give people some relief and latitude for stocking up on essentials and what have you. However, the government did not relax its curfew guidelines, fearing deterioration of conditions that obtain in the vale. What does this suggest? First, there are parallel fonts of authority obtaining in Kashmir contemporarily- the government and the separatist camp with people responding to the separatist camps calls and pleas. The government, as of now, appears to be on the back foot.

All in all the situation in Kashmir lends itself to the analysis that there is a test or battle of wills going on in Kashmir. One the one side are arrayed the separatists and on the other, the government with people gyrating to the call of separatists. But there appears to be another dynamic at play as well. If reports heard by the KO  regarding the relaxation are correct, then there is among the youth that was even averse to the relaxation call given by the separatists. These young men are loath to allow even a wee bit of relaxation of protests and want the protests to prolong as much as possible. By doing, these youth- the younger cohort of Kashmir want to register their anger and make a statement. This is the prosaic bit of the analysis; the more profounder being that the baton of conflict in and over Kashmir has passed on to another generation which will not or in the least does not appear to be in any mood for compromise. From this younger cohort will emerge a new generation of leaders whose basic orientation and reflex might be stronger than the older cohort. This has implications for the conflict in and over Kashmir- the essential one being that the gen next of Kashmir is more aware and more truculent  and that sans militarization of the conflict contemporarily, the sentiment undergirding the conflict has only grown stronger.

From the perspective of the state then, the battle of Wills may or may not pan out in either direction in the immediate term but in the longer term , the vale of Kashmir- the centre of gravity of Jammu and Kashmir is primed for more conflict. If the state’s default reflex- that of containment and management is held to be an indicator of the state’s approach, then the real battle of Wills is between the younger cohort of Kashmiris and the state. How this will pan out and denoue falls in the domain of the “ Unknown unknown”.


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