Why Violence Will Rear Its Head Again In Kashmir

J&K Government’s game plan – as notional as it has become over the past days- towards the mass protests that have rocked Valley and have led to the killings of 49 people is crystal clear now. The government’s technique, premised upon prolonged curfew, choking and blocking of information by banning  the publication of newspapers, a blockade of the internet and mobile services (barring broad band and BSNL post paid services to which only a few have access to), is to pre-empt further killings and throw a spanner into peoples’ resilience and tire people through attrition. 

This approach is likely to work: there is a limit to peoples’ resilience and resistance; there is also a “natural” shelf to the nature of protests that have rocked Kashmir. All in all, then the Government’s technique is likely to work sooner or later. But the real issue is not the length and duration of the ongoing protests; it is the impact and consequences on the collective unconscious of Kashmiris and how this will pan out in the future.

How conditions may obtain in the future – near and longer term – may be arrived at Freudian and Foucauldian lenses by dissecting and analysing the conditions that obtain in Kashmir?

Consider first a retrospective and prospective analysis of the rage that spilled over to the streets of Kashmir. I will begin with the sequence of events and then analyze these Freudian theories. Burhan Wani, the young militant commander, was killed by the state on July 8. Following morning, after a brief lull defined by grief and sadness, collective anger spilt over to the streets of Kashmir and the state reacted with violence. 

What can be gleaned from all this? Freud may have answers here. According to the pioneer of psycho-analysis, “anger must reach a certain intensity before resulting in violence”. In terms of Kashmir, this means anger was brewing within Kashmiris before Burhan was killed and his murder catalyzed or brought latent anger to the fore resulting in aggression.  

Now, according to Freud, “there are two types of aggression- reactive and what he calls explosive rage”. The former is reactive and proportionate to a frustrating situation (which in the context of Kashmir may be held to be lack of resolution to the conflict in and over Kashmir). Both these types of aggression, it is pertinent to note, release tension.  However, the rub lies in what Freud called “secondary aggression”.  That is, “hostile or violent behaviour which taps into a warehouse of previously stored hostility. In secondary aggression, aggressiveness continues to be expressed in a repetitively compulsive fashion  even when the consequences are disastrous”

The pattern delineated by Freud corresponds to the pattern of violence in Kashmir post Burhan’s killing. The question now is: what major factor can be isolated as the one that led to the conditions that obtain in Kashmir? Here Foucalt might have an answer and this may lie in a domineering state that has blocked conflict resolution in and over Kashmir. It is worth citing the French philosopher at length here. According to Foucault:

“When an individual or a social group manages to block a field of relations of power, to render them impassive and invariable and to prevent all reversibility of movement – by means of instruments which can become economic as well as political or military – we are facing what we can call a state of domination. This is the danger of power: its perversion until unrecognizability. The moment power leaves its essential properties of being “changeable, reversible and unstable” so that the relation is blocked and made static, we can speak of a state of domination – a state of affairs where an asymmetrical fixation of power is installed and the margins of liberty become limited”.

Power and power politics, which from a larger perspective, vis a vis Kashmir, mean blocking resolution of the conflict and in terms of contemporary perspective means prolonger curfews, communication blockades and articulation of state power through violence, engenders a condition of domination.

Bracketed together, what can the Freudian and Foucaldian analyses tell us about the future of Kashmir, in terms of violence?

The answer is obvious. Given state domination and attempts to block conflict resolution and the denouement of  events post Burhan’s killing, it may be inferred that Kashmir, under conditions of a stressful or cataclysmic incident , will once again descend into violence and anarchy. This will be a repetitive cycle and could, in all likelihood feed more orgies of violence.

Can these be pre-empted? Yes. If the state takes a sober and prudent view over Kashmir and institutes a win-win conflict resolution paradigm, then these cycles of violence may be prevented. Will the state take recourse to this paradigm? Unlikely is the answer. Under these conditions in which a dominating state chokes conflict resolution, the pattern that will unfold in Kashmir will correspond to what Freud delineated. 

Anger will brew in the hearts of Kashmiris  till it morphs into reactive aggression and then explosive rage which in turn will mutate into the much deadly secondary aggression – which will be met by the dominating state with violence. All this means that Kashmir will, until the conflict is resolved to the satisfaction of all stakeholders-especially Kashmiris, will be in the grips and throes of perpetual violence. The implications and consequences will be that more Kashmiris will be consumed by the conflict. If this does not concentrate minds of powers that be, what will?


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