Two months after the end of the post-Burhan upsurge, the situation in Kashmir is at a dead-end. The summer’s heavy security crackdown has brought about some moderation in the intensity of the protests but the situation continues to simmer. Hurriyat protest timetables sans blanket shutdowns continue to be issued and observed by the people in breach. The security response to the summer unrest has wrought havoc: Nearly hundred people have been killed, several hundred have lost their eye-sight and around 14000 were injured. In addition, the government made hundreds of arrests, many of them minors and booked several hundred under Public Safety Act including the human rights activists. But as the situation stands, this has made a little difference to the situation on the ground. As the Kulgam, Hajin and Handwara encounters demonstrate, there is little change in the sentiment.
If anything, the fresh killings have come as a reminder that far from being over, the turmoil that followed Burhan Wani’s death is on a pause and may resume soon. If Sunday’s development is any indicator, the things have only moved to the next level. In recent years, the groundswell of euphoric support for the militancy was reflected in the ever-growing participation in the militant funerals. Young speakers would pledge to carry forward the “mission of the martyrs”. For sometime, this mass support was exhibited in the posts and comment threads on the social media, a trend inspired by Burhan himself. That is before the security agencies started patrolling the web, restricting the quantity of the daily pro-Azadi online discourse. But now people don’t wait for funerals to express their support but prefer rather to act directly in ever larger numbers to save the trapped militants.
But while all this is happening, the centre has shown least concern for the state of affairs. After a feeble attempt at a political engagement in the first weeks of the unrest, New Delhi has given up all pretence of any outreach. Fidayeen attack at Uri which killed 19 soldiers followed by other attacks and their consequent still unfolding fallout has further taken the attention away from the deteriorating situation in Valley. Similarly, except for some half-hearted statements emanating from the United Nations, America and OIC, the world has remained untroubled by the situation in Kashmir. This has created a dead-end scenario. Pro-freedom camp, on their part, has once again exhibited little political imagination. They have struggled to innovate on the protest rosters, a strategy that also failed in 2010. If anything, none of the parties involved in the conflict have gone through a learning curve. Situation seems to be going on regardless, with none of them pausing to think where we are heading. But while New Delhi being the disproportionately powerful party can get away with its mistakes, not so the separatist groups in Kashmir or the Kashmiri society for that matter. Onus is on us to act smarter than persist with a strategy or strategies that have started giving diminishing returns.