Like elsewhere in India, the surgical strikes inside Pakistan Administered Kashmir has left Kashmir agog at the prospects of a major confrontation between India and Pakistan. The continuing cross-LoC exchange of fire and the attacks at Army camps and police stations in Valley have only heightened these fears. However, these extraordinary developments have made a little difference to the existing troubled state of affairs – albeit, the number of the protests across Valley has registered a perceptible decline on all days except Friday. It was during the protests following Friday congregation prayers that Junaid Ahmad, 12, was hit by pellets at Saidpora area of downtown Srinagar. He succumbed to his injuries at SK Institute of Medical Sciences early Saturday taking the toll in the 93 day long turmoil to 94, one killing for each day.
The communication blockade continues across Valley. Only least subscribed post paid phones are running which has drastically hampered the social engagements. The reality now is that the Valley has been under curfew and shutdown for three months. Bazaars remain closed and the streets deserted. The neighbourhoods give a ghostly feel in broad day light. Trade and tourism has been crippled with the president of the Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation Mohammad Yaseen Khan saying that Kashmir loses Rs 135 crore daily. The total loss has now gone up to more than Rs 13000 crore.
Similarly, the education has been worst affected. Schools are shut and the children are confined to their homes. Ironically some schools have recorded lessons and posted study material online which in the absence of internet no one can access.
But now the surgical strikes have only deepened the uncertainty. Nobody has a clue where the situation is heading. Far from any improvement, the situation has only gotten worse by the day. And there is no knowing when it will end.
The post-Uri fallout has come as a serious disappointment to a majority of Kashmiris as it is seen to have largely turned the attention away from the three month old uprising in the state. People expected the ongoing upsurge to lead to the centre initiating a credible political engagement with Kashmir. Nothing of the sort has happened. The turmoil in Kashmir has been left to linger on. This topped up with Uri attack and surgical strikes has now put a full stop to all Kashmir related efforts. And with polls in Uttar Pradesh looming, BJP is unlikely to announce even a cosmetic political initiative to appear to address the Valley unrest. On the contrary, an unyielding approach to Kashmir suits BJP’s painstakingly cultivated tough image and its already bright electoral chances in UP. And with surgical strikes inside Pakistan Administered Kashmir, BJP has tried to look even tougher. This rules out any political engagement with Kashmir until the UP polls are over.
But this unhelpful environment has hardly influenced or informed the ongoing uprising in Valley. Hurriyat has issued protest rosters regardless. And the Government has continued the killing and blindings of the protesters, most of them teenagers. This is a tragic state of affairs. Kashmir struggle needs an intellectual upgrade, if we can use the term. The leaders need to think out of box. A struggle has to be smart, not suicidal.
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