Kashmir is not known for the raucous and euphoric New Year celebrations. And even if it was, this year there was no reason to celebrate. In fact, the occasion calls for a solemn reflection and refreshing the memory of the people who lost their lives and those who got blinded by the pellet pump action guns used by the police to quell the protests. But this call has been conspicuous by its absence both in the statements of the pro-freedom camp or the civil society groups. And this is a negligence, if at all it is unwitting, that is inexcusable.
For the message that we are sending to these hapless victims of violence is very cruel in nature. We are effectively conveying to them that they count for little now that we have drawn all the political mileage that there was in their sacrifice. This kind of uncivilised political and social behaviour needs immediate mending. This is inherently exploitative in nature and the societies which are so apathetic in nature always stand to lose.
Anyway Kashmir is now normal again. The five month unrest ended without any gain, in large part also due to the ill-conceived strategy of Hurriyat which resorted to endless hartals to perpetuate it. The result was that the people deprived of their right to earn their livelihood were forced to give up protesting sooner than even government expected to do so..
Kashmir is not agitated. There is no demonstrative sense of unease at the state of affairs. But at the same time this, by no means translates that the people are happy with the situation. What is palpable, however, is a profound degree of indifference with the governance, its promises and excesses or for that matter with the rhetoric of separatists. But what is it that animates this indifference? And whether this something will remain content with exhibiting the unconcern for long. There is no telling.
All this complexity of the normalcy in Valley, however, doesn’t detract from the fact that this year has been normal in Kashmir. And the government whether it deserves or not can take the credit for it. But one undeniable fact remains and which is that this peace is by no means authentic and not underpinned by the strong fundamentals, so to say. It is this inexplicability of the peace and understandability of the trouble that makes Kashmir such an uncertain place. Can this reality be reversed? Not in the foreseeable future, at least. The redressal mechanisms that have been undertaken so far don’t even make for a bandage.
What does this tell us of future? The answer is again uncertain. But this is an uncertainty that is the only thing that is certain about Kashmir. Come summer and Kashmir could well plunge back into the familiar turmoil. We could again have the rock-tossing protests break out in our streets. And even if they don’t, Kashmir will not be normal. It will be a peace, held up, looked after and managed by the day - or a result of the people choosing to remain calm for reasons other than those that make them comfortable with the situation.
This is the reality of Kashmir. And will remain for a long time to come. Our NC, PDP and Hurriyats rise from here with all the contradictions of their politics. The dysfunctional separatist struggle and thousands of the vested interests in the security establishment hinge on its odd dynamics. What will it all end up into? There are no answers. But is there a credible measure by which to judge the genuiness of peace in Kashmir. Or what will be it like when we have it. There sure is a measure. That is, the day we cannot only intellectually explain peace in the state but also intuitly feel it, Kashmir will truly be a peaceful place.