The loss of more than forty CRPF lives in an attack on CRPF convoy has generated outrage across India. In Kashmir too the scale of the attack and the consequent killings have left people sad and worried. If anything, the attack has underlined the drastic shift in ground situation in the Valley. And unless New Delhi makes some drastic re-adjustments in its policy towards the state, there is little hope for any improvement.
But sadly the union government is once again choosing not to confront the reality in Kashmir. It has once again taken refuge into a self-constructed narrative that is only tangentially related to the situation. It has conveniently absolved itself of all sins of omission and commission in the state and chosen to put all the blame for the Pulwama carnage at Pakistan's door. The truth is that over the past four years Kashmir Valley has been groaning under a no-holds-barred muscular policy that is geared to kill its way to peace. This has involved the killing of not only the militants but also a harsh response to public protests. The use of the pellet guns has been encouraged leading to partial or complete blinding of hundreds of Kashmiris. And while this has caused untold sufferings, the media, security and the political discourse in the country has chosen to celebrate it. The toxic television anchors have used Kashmiri blood and suffering to raise their TRPs. And the ruling BJP uses it to drum up electoral support.
This vicious environment brutalizes the perpetrators and the victims alike. Both lose the ability to understand each other and see the situation for what it is. As a result, both New Delhi and Kashmir Valley now deal with the stereotypes of each other than the complex realities as they exist on the ground.
Will Pulwama attack cause a fundamental shift in how New Delhi looks at Kashmir? Unlikely. If the runaway political and media rhetoric is anything to go by, the attack has only cemented the existing narrative. In fact, any dissenting opinion which seeks to project a more nuanced view of the incident is being silenced. The people are being fed on a chilling war-mongering discourse which is creating a mass demand for revenge. While this is easy to do and television channels and their anchors mint some money from this, it will be exceedingly difficult to slake this ever-growing thirst for bloodshed. More so, when the country being dealt with is armed with nuclear weapons. There's thus no option but to confront the elephant in room, which is the deteriorating ground reality in Kashmir and address it empathetically. Everything else is a distraction and any miscalculation in response to the current crisis could lead to towards destruction.
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