As day 118 of the protest movement that engulfed the vale of Kashmir melds into day 119, the state’s strategy and technique of killing the protests or what is left of these is becoming clear. The state, it would appear, understands that the protests have, to some extent lost their sting in terms of broad based, willing support by the cross section of Kashmiri society and there is resistance in pockets of Kashmir. In lieu of this, the state appears to be taking a hard line and hard power approach to squelch the remaining pockets of resistance across the vale of Kashmir. This, approach, KO contends is a flawed one. We believe that the need of the hour is dialogue and reconciliation; not confrontation.
It stands to reason that given the resources, staying power and power that the state has, it might prevail over the pockets of protests in Kashmir. This is a short term approach. And it is precisely because and on account of short termism that Kashmir and Kashmiris continue to a pay a price for a conflict that is not of their making. Consider a factual. The state, when it adopts a hard power approach antagonizes a swathe of people- especially the youth- and makes them bend to the logic of confrontation. The arrests, slapping of FIR’s( or even PSA’s in some instances), imprisonment and violence induced injuries further extend the logic of confrontation by etching alienation, bitterness and angst in the hearts of these youth. While, to repeat, the current protests, might die down, but by virtue of a hard power approach, it these very youth are, in many ways than one, being set up for violent recrudescence. Youth scarred by violence, coercion and hard glove of the state will not take kindly to these approaches in the long term. But, it seems, that neither the state nor the political class is interested in the long term. It may be stated here that this has been the bane of Kashmir- historically and now contemporarily. No lessons have been learned. If it may be recalled it was this hard power and coercive approach towards the resistance and a new idiom of politics that catalyzed , hardened and later mobilized the doyens of separatist leaders like Yasin Malik and Salahuddin. If there is a historical parallel in place and the denouement of this parallel extant in clear cut terms, has the state not learnt any lesson? No, it would appear.
The idea here is not to root for or hint at solutions of pacification of Kashmiri youth through softer measures but instead take a sober and prudent view of the impasse that has befallen Kashmir; another ancillary component is stem what KO believes might be in the nature of an avalanche in the future in the form of widespread violence and even insurgency in the vale. We have lost many lives to the conflict in and over Kashmir. It would be a travesty to let Kashmiris further feed the conflict through their blood, lives and treasure. Prudence and sobriety demand not to allow the situation to come to this pass. This can only be done by instituting a conflict resolution paradigm that redounds to the benefit of all stakeholders- especially Kashmiris. For now, a beginning can be made through a process of dialogue and reconciliation that is win-win. This could be in the nature of a template for a definite and definitive resolution of the conflict in and over Kashmir. Let not our youth be victims of a conflict that is not of their making. Let them look toward a future that is bold, beautiful and free from the encumbrances of the conflict.