I was amazed less and annoyed more to read the (words of wisdom) recorded by Professor Amitab Mattoo in his article “Rebels with a Cause” published in the Hindustan Times of 8th July on current violent turmoil in the Valley. As a Kashmir watcher for more than fifty years I tend to disagree with the prognosis of Professor Mattoo for the persisting malady of the Valley because ground realities are farther away from the theoretical illusions some of the peaceniks and human rights activists are harping on as a matter of fashion these days. In fact Valley seems to be sinking back in deep crisis and anarchy where writ of the state does not run as happened in 1989. Professor Mattoo can not be correct that the writ of the state at present is not challenged by the insurgents, militants and even separatists when he feels that the young generation of Kashmiri youth are the only challenge to the state. The fact is that all anti-state, anti-democracy and anti-national sentiments are whipped up by Islamic radical separatists and some politicians of the Valley who have become cohorts to them, with incitement and support from Pakistani Agencies. While the Professor sees it only as anger of a new generation of youth who have grown up during the last two decades of protests, conflict and violence in the Valley, in real terms these civil protests are manouvered to lead to violence and insurrection but are presented as peaceful demonstrations. These demonstrations are closely monitored and manipulated by hard core separatists in connivance with some sulking politicians of the Valley. These violent demonstrations can by no stretch of imagination be called as resilient protests of a civil society for a just cause. Though this too is a fact that our policies on Kashmir have yet again derailed for reasons not known. We have allowed the separatists and the enemies of the State to manipulate and organize such demonstrations as the State Govt. and Central Govt.continue to fumble for solutions of ordinary day to day problems of the people of the Valley.

It is true that civil rage ignited by vested interests in the protesters was ignited  from specific instances of violence which in turn led to the death of  young protesters. These events are a part of the drama of violence and anarchy designed and enacted by the enemies of the state for decades now. Unfortunately, law enforcement agencies fail to fathom and pre-empt these situations consistently.

Professor Matto’s prognosis of Kashmir malady is at the best cosmetic and at the worst jaundiced. When he calls civil turmoil in the Valley as expression of anger, disillusionment and frustration of the youth of the Valley he seems to have fallen to the propaganda and explanations of vested interests in the Valley. He wants the angry youth to be empowered by the State, Centre, and Private sector and Civil society. This is as if youth of Jammu and Ladakh province and Kashmiri Pandits who were hunted out of the Valley by the Islamic terrorists have no such problems and frustrations which plague all youth of the country. Do they also have an option to come on the streets and paralyze all civil activities by lethal stone pelting to press for their demands which may be otherwise justified? No that gives them no right to hijack civil society by creating anarchy and chaos by violent protests.

He further says that we should not reduce and relate the current turmoil in the Valley to rabid Islamists and Pakistani machinations and promptings of other vested interests. But all these demonical factors who nurse and guide all anti-people, anti-Govt and anti-Centre protests can not be wished away even if one wants to on such platitudes. Though this is a fact the Kashmiri youth see suffering, killing and political uncertainty all around yet it is to be admitted that the crisis is of  their own creation because a section of the youth has connived and participated with the secessionist movement abetted by Pakistan all along. Professor Mattoo has stated that though the youth of the Valley have been empowered by internet and telephonic connectivity but the same has been misutilized to galvanize anti-Govt sentiments to resurrect radical Islamic fundamentalism  and fomenting insurgency in the Valley. New technologies have been misused for radicalization of  the youth and mobilization of stone pelting brigades, leading to intimidation, street violence and arson.

Professor Mattoo may not be correct that there is no leader who guides and controls the present anarchy because no civil movement that is violent in nature can survive without involvement of a core group to plan and guide the project and perform those acts which are needed to sustain  it. Calls for strikes and Bandhs from different agencies are a regular feature in Kashmir politics which can not be ignored. In addition to hardcore separatists of the Valley, some politicians who have sworn by the Constitution of India and the Constitution of the State have openly come on streets to support the violent stone pelters and these are from mainline PDP and some other organizations.

No one can however disagree with the Professor that there is urgent need to stop the cycle of protests, violence and protests in the Valley. Regarding the need for fine tuning the management of protest control, there is great scope for improvement so that pain and lethality arising out of the protests leading to further violence are minimal. But this too is a sad fact that the professional goons and moles who take over all civil protests once they emerge even on legitimate causes use stones  and brickbats against the security forces as a fine art form of attack by ambush. Stone pelting has remained an effective tool with the politicians of the Valley for decades to press demands and create havoc and mayhem. It has been perfected to a war act of offence. When these pelters attack the security forces with “cold missiles” as they are called in Kashmir, the intent is to inflict lethal wound which can hurt, maim and even incapacitate. Besides these pelters are shrewd enough to maneuver their movement in a way that their attacks are always a surprise with suspense because they plan their hit and run strategy always in advance and with precision. It is therefore always that these pelters escape safe from the retaliation of the security forces. And it is usually the other protesters who fall victim to the retaliatory charge of the attacked security forces. Thus occasionally such action of protestors and reaction of security forces cause painful injuries and unavoidable, unfortunate deaths which are essential in the scheme of things of separatists to keep public anger and rage smoldering and gain publicity which is easily available these days when all news channels vie with each other for breaking bites. The ground situation can be explained only by one who is a part of or has remained a part of such anti-protest measures and faced such situations and not by arm chair advocates of human rights. There has to be zero tolerance to violent protests because security forces protect citizens against transgression of their civil and public rights by professional goons let loose in these staged demonstrations. It is also not fair to ignore the same human rights of the security forces that are also the citizens of India and perform their legitimate duties to protect political and civil rights of the citizens and safeguard integrity of the country. It has become a fashion to demonize the security forces who work under tremendous pressure of provocation and violence in such circumstances.

Professor Mattoo finally advocates that these angry violent young youth of the Valley need to be engaged in creative ventures not only by the State but also by the Central government and private sector along with the civil society at large. Does Professor advocate a policy of appeasement to the aggressive youth of the Valley ignoring the law abiding youth of other parts of the State that live in peace in Jammu, Ladakh and not to speak of Kashmiri Pandit youth who faced the worst turmoil in the Valley and yet struggle in other parts of the country for their survival in peace and with grace? His idea of Council of Elders to restore peace is too naïve to work because even the Maha Panchayat (that represented all sections of people of the State) that was called by the PM some years back to restore peace and order in the Valley could not make any breakthrough because of intransigent attitude of some vested interests who owed their allegiance to separatists sponsored by Pakistan and pan-Islamic forces active in the Valley. Besides, militants who freely mingle in such demonstrations of stone pelters have already destroyed the fabric of social structure which could  have otherwise been utilized to lead people of the Valley back to peace and prosperity.

We need not buy peace in the Valley by placating violent protestors with promises and freebies. This policy has not paid in the past. Time has come when Kashmiri Muslims have to learn to respect the law of the land. Political rights of dissent and disagreement are to be used in a decent and democratic way without hurt to others, be it security forces. They have to learn to respect and follow the institutions of democracy which do not allow use of force and violence, They have to think big and come out of their self woven shells which are crippling their free will and initiative which has unlimited scope and recognition in the democratic emerging powerhouse of Modern India of which they are a part.

Professor is right that our policies on Kashmir have overwhelmed and derailed and have thwarted the state’s journey back to normalcy and stability. We need to draft policies to quell rage and anger of the frustrated youth. Yet he may not be correct that the rebellion has been prompted by specific instances of violence and killings because violent demonstrations have been a permanent refrain in the policy of separatists who have all along spearheaded such protests on causes which are not usually genuine. The protests are not because of killings; rather killings occur because of violent protests. The sense of hopelessness, disillusionment and alienation of the youth of the Valley is not the result of violence and killings It is rather the cause of the same because stone pelting is an accomplished martial art form in the Valley which aims to hurt, maim and incapacitate the opponent who is attacked by ambush without any justification. What kind of victimhood, injustice and insecurity of identity of Kashmiri Muslim youth does Professor talk of, one fails to grasp. All sectors, State Govt. Central Govt. and Private sector which provide employment are the monopoly of Kashmiri Muslim youth who countenance no competition from any other section of people of the State in the Valley or any part of the country. Even such posts which were vacated by Hindus of the Valley on their exodus have been usurped by Muslim youth. Businesses abandoned by the Hindus of the Valley on their exodus have also been taken over by the Muslim youth. So it is not fair to allege that youth of the Valley have crisis of identity which needs to be restored to them.

It was not a mistake to consider smooth conduct of elections in Kashmir in 2008 as a return to the business as usual in politics in the State because Kashmiris had by and large rejected the politics of dissension and violence by confronting and ignoring boycott calls of the separatists by use of their ballot paper in full numbers. It were the blunders and failures of Omar Abdullah Govt. that catapulted the simmering discontent of some segments of the society to ignite into a big conflagration which was fanned and abetted by his disgruntled colleagues, sulking bureaucrats, hostile politicians and rabid separatists who are working under guidance and control of the enemies of the country.

It can simply not be understood as to from what kind of freedom from fear of physical, political economic and cultural influences Professor wants to redeem the angry youth of the Valley. What are such influences and wherefrom are they penetrating in the Valley? By all symptoms and indications these are pan-Islamic influences and prejudices which have already infiltrated into the Valley through Pakistan and its rabid terrorists who had lured a tiny segment of youth of the Valley to their fold initially. Their idea was to convert the Valley to Nizam-i-Mustaffa (Puritanical fundamentalist Islamic state) by intimidation and violence. No one except the people of the Valley have to break off from this fear of fundamentalist violence by mingling with mainline-secular, multi-faceted, all-inclusive culture of democratic India which is too willing to embrace all right thinking and peace loving people of the Valley. This can easily be achieved after they reject the rabid fundamentalist calls and promptings that they receive.

*P.N.Ganjoo was born in a modest Kashmiri family about 7 decades ago, lost his father early and was raised by his honest, hardworking mother. With her efforts he received his education in Srinagar and went on to serve in various Government Departments before retiring as a senior grade KAS officer.

Presently he is working on his varied interests besides being a consulting Director of a software services company.

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The Muslims of Kashmir should read this article and this magazine. It will help them improve their lives and the lives of their future generations. They will learn to be productive in the new world order and get rid of their scheming leaders who use them under the garb of religiosity.
Added By Vijay Aima