Protests 2016: What Next?

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There is a clear cut pattern to protests that engulf Kashmir. If the starting point of public protests where mass anger spills on over to streets and gets mutated into mass anger and then violence under a catalytic spur is held to be 2008, and an average gleaned, then Kashmir irrupts after every 2. 6 years. In a way, this pattern has become institutionalized. The state’s default reflex is to play the attrition game and wear down the public given the very nature of these protests (mass protests where every section of society is involved) renders them as having a shelf life. But the glaring question that the protests open up is what strategy do the separatists have given the institutionalization of the protests? It is clear and obvious that once latent anger in Kashmir acquires a violent hue, the state arrests separatists who then give a protest calendar till the protests fizzle out and die. The casualty here (besides the real casualties in terms of deaths and injuries) is the politics of Kashmir.

Here is how it all pans out.  Kashmir being Kashmir is always on edge; a catalytic spur or a series of ungainly incidents and events gnaw at the Kashmiri psyche till a threshold is reached and anger spills over onto the streets. The separatists are bundled into jail. They give a protest calendar and people follow till they are drained and then we are back to square one.

One theory lends itself to scrutiny is that there is a leadership crisis in the state which creates a void in the politics of the state and after the critical threshold of protests especially in terms of their intensity, separatist leaders follow their own agendas- frittering away in the process their leverage. If this analysis holds, then Kashmir has a problem on its hands. While the state is the bashing or the punching bag for most of us, why don’t we also direct attention to the problems plaguing the other camp?

It cannot or should not be the case that all that Kashmir’s intelligentsia has to offer is a critique of the extant power structures of the vale. The intelligentsia should also move beyond and offer constructive and robust pathways out of the morass that the vale of Kashmir has gotten into. This includes an endgame to the conflict in and over Kashmir. KO’s take regarding this has been a stakeholder approach which satisfies comprehensively the interests and aspirations of all stakeholders especially Kashmiris. The condition that obtains in Kashmir cannot be left to chance akin to a Russian Roulette wherein Kashmiris get killed and injured and at the end of the day there is nothing concrete in hand.

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The 2016 protests and the orgy of structural violence it begat must concentrate minds in all camps. Lives have been lost. No power on earth can bring the dead ones back to life. But what can be done is to devise, articulate and implement a strategy by all stakeholders that makes the death of our valued and valuable youth worth their ultimate sacrifices. This is the least what we owe to them. Let protests 2016 and the loss of life these engendered yield way to introspection and crafting of bold and beautiful approaches that make our martyr’s blood worth the sacrifice and also create a template for our future generations wherein they lead wholesome and unencumbered lives.

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