The “kinetic anger” on eloquent display in Kashmir since the killing of Burhan Wani shows no sign of abating. Yes: honestly speaking, the state’s strategy and technique of wearing out people and its opponents through attrition may work one day, but surely the long term implications and consequences of the ongoing protest movement and the state’s approach is going to be deleterious. The reasons, if academic jargon is employed to throw light on the issue pertain to anger, political violence and their consequences. (Obiter Dictum, both anger and political violence are now well known categories in political science). The question is given the prolonged display of “kinetic anger” in Kashmir, what will be its political consequences? It needs to be stated here that the latest display of anger and political violence in Kashmir has a spatial and temporal dynamic and nature. That is, it precedes the current spasm of violence and is historical – it is spread across space and time. The state’s response has been to “soften” up Kashmiris through an admixture of manipulation and coercion. Whilst this may have worked in terms of the insurgency component of Kashmir’s modern history, it really has not ‘softened up” the Kashmiri sentiment. To the contrary, what has happened is what political scientists call “hardening” of ethnic identity in Kashmir.
Kashmir has historically and contemporarily confronted the Indian state with anger and this anger has grown in intensity over a period of time. The reasons pertain to both Kashmiri grievances and hurt and aspirations which Kashmiris feel have been denied to them. The focus of Kashmiri anger then has been the Indian state and in the process Kashmiris have become what political scientists call “ intuitive prosecutors” of the Indian state – that is people here have a specific target or more accurately a perpetrator in mind; Kashmiris seek justice against this “perpetrator”. In this psychological schemata, anger is key and central; it feeds on itself and the appraisal mechanism it develops is that “ when an emotional trigger is set off, past history and even ungainly events associated with this emotional trigger are brought fore to consciousness which intensifies the initial and the new emotional trigger”. The killing of Burhan Wani and the violence which has exacted a death toll of 70 persons so far corresponds to this patter.
Kashmir has historically and contemporarily confronted the Indian state with anger and this anger has grown in intensity over a period of time. The reasons pertain to both Kashmiri grievances and hurt and aspirations which Kashmiris feel have been denied to them. The focus of Kashmiri anger then has been the Indian state and in the process Kashmiris have become what political scientists call “ intuitive prosecutors” of the Indian state – that is people here have a specific target or more accurately a perpetrator in mind; Kashmiris seek justice against this “perpetrator”.
Given this hypothesis which has been reified over a period of time, the obvious consequence is intensification of emotion and, to repeat, hardening of ethnic identity in zero sum terms. The question is: can anything or theme ameliorate this anger and lead to “normalcy”?
While the Indian state’s response to the contemporary crisis in Kashmir does not leave one sanguine and hopeful (it sometime appears that the state has no clue how to deal with anger and emotion here), the answer may lie in what, in psychology, is called “ quenching”. Quenching is a process that disrupts or dispels anger. The process essentially, according to psychologists, is a thought or behavior or external phenomenon that changes the angry emotional state. Here political science comes into the picture. According to academics trained in this discipline, “if violent conflicts are sustained by anger and its effects, then the quenching of anger must be a major part of termination of conflict. But what is central to quenching is “apology” and “truth”.
Are either forthcoming?
No. Not if the state’s approach and behavior in both the past and the recent past are any indication. The state has taken both a rigid and an amateurish stance towards the conflict in and over Kashmir – historically and contemporarily. It seeks to contain and squelch which feed anger. But the question here is what approach could the state take? The answer lies in apology and truth – apology for the violent approach it has adopted and seeing the truth about Kashmir. But this would mean introspection and a confrontation with the truth. Given the nature of the emotion and the illusions that recent ideas of nationhood in the subcontinent-especially India – a confrontation with and seeking the truth would be politically unpalatable to powers that be in the Indian state. What then will or is likely to happen? Pretence over reality or truth is the answer. Will this help Kashmir or anyone else? A resounding NO is the answer. What will be the consequences of pretence and illusion? Tragedy and farce is the answer. The emanations of this will be suffering and holding hostage the future of all peoples of the subcontinent till the day people and power confront the truth and reconcile the two. This day given the emotions and sacrality attached to territory in Kashmir and the sensibility of powers and people is far away. Alas!
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