Incidents involving multiple players are often very difficult to resolve due to conflicting interests of the parties involved. However, one such incident that had happy ending concerns 20 year old youth resident of Khanyar in downtown Srinagar named Ehtesham Bilal.
Studying Radiography in Noida, he left the university premises without telling anyone after he was roughed up during a fight between two groups of students. A few days later his photograph appeared on social media in which he was wearing a black pathan suit with a grenade pouch and posing in front of an Islamic State (IS) flag. Everyone was shocked that Ehtesham had joined Islamic State J&K (ISJK) as he had always been a focused student and had never shown any inclination towards militancy. Moreover, being the only son in the Sofi clan he wanted to live up to the expectations of his family by doing well in life.
On looking back one finds that there really wasnt any provocation that could justify his taking the extreme step of joining militant ranks. There is no denying that Ehtesham had been attacked during a clash between two groups of students, but this was not because he was a Kashmiri. The fight was between Indian and Afghani students which turned violent and Ehtesham was roughed as he was mistaken to be an Afghani. Later on, when his attackers realised their mistake they apologised to him and thats why everyone thought that having been resolved amicably, this matter was closed. However, Ehtesham surprised everyone.
While his decision to join ISJK spread a pall of gloom over his shocked family members and friends but it came as a windfall for those in Kashmir who anxiously await (and perhaps even pray) for such incidents to happen so that they get another case to add to their narrative that oppression is forcing Kashmiri youth to pick up arms.
The tragedy of Kashmir is that news of a young boy picking up the gun doesnt seem to bother anyone except the individuals family, relatives and friends. Mainstream political parties do talk a lot about the sufferings of the Kashmiris but seldom go beyond sermonising and cleverly avoid supporting the appeals made by family members to militant groups to send their sons back. And this is evident from former Chief Ministers tweet in which he borders on the philosophical by stating that If what happened to him at #Sharda University has led him to choose such a destructive path, its even more tragic and then conveniently washes off his hands with the pessimistic remark that One more life on the path to ruin and one more family in turmoil.
Separatists are no better as they too have avoided supporting any appeal of distraught parents asking militant groups to return their sons. However, whenever a militant is killed in a gunfight with security forces, the separatists suddenly appear to be filled with immense sorrow and they express great concern while lamenting loss of young lives. Yet, they never advise or appeal to the youth not to pick up arms but instead use such occasions to talk about how the blood of martyrs would never be allowed to go waste and that their mission would be taken to its ultimate conclusion. Though full of high-sounding words and thoughts, what our leaders actually convey to Kashmiri youth is that they should pick up guns to avenge the deaths of freedom fighters martyred by security forces even if they too have to die.
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