|By now, you must have added this to the list of weirdest jobs. You need no education or seed investment, get paid in cash, get respect from some quarters at least, stay active and in shape, are part of a growing community and most importantly (at least till recently) do not get charged with any cognizable offence. Funny, isn’t it? It will not be so as you read on. For starters, let us take the glamour out of this job and know that it is one of the oldest professions in the world. Even in Roman times, there were jobs for slingers because the Romans had made the sling an essential part of their military strategy, as stones could be more effective in distance and damage than an arrow. By catching them early, the militarists would create armies of youth who could accurately throw stones up to a pound in weight to a distance of 200 meters or so. Children - slingers-in-training would be required to kill to eat. That would teach them fast.
So now you know that stone throwing is not as harmless as you might think. In certain countries, death by stone throwing is still a form of punishment. A person who is in the line of stones being thrown by professionally trained youth is staring at grievous injury and even death from a “good” shot. Mostly, the person who is in line of these stones is the person who took the job of defender of people instead of being a stone pelter. He knows that among the stone pelters would also be lurking a person with an AK-47, a hand grenade or another bomb. He has been equipped with a gun himself along with an order to practice deep restraint. He does think about his young family at home as he dodges being the target of a stone, bullet or bomb. You put him in this fiery cocktail situation and hold him seriously accountable if an unfortunate event occurs. And they put the youth in this situation and do not hold themselves or the youth accountable to anything! There is no romance in this situation, only tragedy. So wake up everybody.
- Who employs the stone pelters?
- What is their degree of accountability?
- Where do they get the funds from?
It is reasonably well known that the paymasters of the stone pelters are from a conglomerate of separatist outfits. They are in turn funded directly by foreign intelligence agencies and religious states and indirectly by the Government of India. “Religious states and foreign intelligence agencies we understand but the Government of India!” you ask? Yes, the Government of India, which pumps in thousands of crores of Rupees as aid to the state government without assigning responsibility. A good chunk of that money goes to buy peace with the big trouble makers and is spent in some garb or the other; Government jobs that pay but do not demand services or office presence, construction contracts to build bridges to nowhere, in the name of security for the common folk, to provide Z class (highest level) security to the separatists… and the list goes on. From the big trouble makers, it goes to the armies of stone pelters and gunmen, among others. The children of these big trouble maker paymasters have modern education, travel the globe and live well. The Jihadi lifestyle, they have reserved for the common man.
There are many others who make a living from the acts of the stone pelters and the active gunmen. Some even make a killing from their killings or their getting killed. The taped conversations between two Hurriyat functionaries prescribing deaths from common protests so that violence gets a fillip showcase some of those who have a vested interest in the escalation of violence. The likes of Barkha Dutt at the NDTV/ CNN combo have been providing non-stop coverage to the stone pelters, which is a contributing factor in the escalation of violence in Kashmir. This is the kind of reporting that has brought the credentials of Ms. Dutt and the quoted news channels into question even at earlier times; Like when the Chief Admiral of the Indian Navy suggested that Barkha Dutt had compromised the security of Indian troops by giving out troop locations during the Kargil war and the Vanity Fair magazine carried a report that her coverage of the Mumbai attacks of 2008 was used by the terrorist handlers to inflict greater casualties. When a person can be arrested for a single speech that could be considered as likely to cause violence, how can someone who unabashedly stokes the fires of violence against the nation and its people and troops get encouragement and celebrity status instead? Should the aims of foreign publications operating in India be investigated and should their granted privileges of being able to visit sensitive locations and war zones be seriously curtailed in the interest of the nation and to save the lives of our troops as well as civilians?
You would argue that this conversation avoids the root cause of the gunman’s and stone pelter’s being; his quest for joining mass with his religious brethren in Pakistan and freedom/ azadi from India. The separatist outfits, the religious states and inimical neighbors are only feeding into this basic desire for the sake of their own goals, you would say. These are the kind of arguments that come everyday from the Pundits of Kashmir. No, not the half a million aboriginal Kashmiri Hindu people whose cultural genocide at the hands of religious fanatics with Pakistan leanings has created a quasi religious state in Kashmir. Those Kashmiri Hindu views have been effectively choked in the media and government or superimposed by those of a few hand-picked, cherry-picking self-servers running rag-tag outfits. Instead, these are the scant-knowledge, false-imagination “Pundits of Kashmir” who are prone to wax eloquent on all matters of Kashmir. Their notes, statements, speeches and poems will carry passion whether they are in the know or not. They create a liberal avatar for display in their personal or web interactions and try to be “king of the hill” among all liberals in every group interaction. If only they understood that public relations or communication when it is not honest is propaganda and that they could be termed as its worst proponents or victims, depending upon their degree of naivete about Kashmir!
Ask a common Kashmiri Hindu anytime or a Kashmiri Muslim in his honest moment and you will know the raison d'etre of the stone pelter and the gunman. I will quote two incidents and leave it for you to understand:
- 1950’s : Near a large boat on the Jhelum river bank, there was huge commotion and soon slogans of Pakistan Zindabad and Hindustan Murdabad. A person went close to check the cause of the commotion and came to know that the boat was used for ration distribution by the local Government and the boat owner had a tiff with a person about jumping the queue. But why "Pakistan Zindabad and Hindustan Murdabad" for that asked the seeker. "Listen",said a seemingly wise man standing close by; “I travel all over India to sell my shawls and wares. Nowhere is ration better or cheaper than it is here. If saying Pakistan Zindabad gets us that without doing anything else, why not?”
- 2010: True conversation. “Why did you stoke this fire when peace seems available and around the corner?” asked the seeker. “Listen”, said the wise man, “Tourists had started coming by the droves, more people were signing for the Amarnath Yatra and some Kashmiri Hindus were even considering accepting jobs that would bring their return. That might have killed our golden egg hen.” “But what do you really want through all this. Do you want to be one with Pakistan?” asked the seeker. The wise man said that “No, we want to be with Hindustan but also to keep sucking its blood.”
The average Kashmiri knows what he wants from the “Muhim”or mission and what his “cause” is. The average person from the rest of India does not know what the Kashmiri’s “cause” is and what is at stake for India in Kashmir. Why not? Why does India keep getting its “news” from propaganda by the likes of Barkha Dutt, NDTV and CNN? Where is the Public Relations and Media Outreach effort by the Government of India? Or is all media in India already bought by foreign interests involved in the process of cultural invasion?
Leave aside for a moment what the Government is doing in Kashmir at this time. You tell us what the Government of India should do. Selected comments will be carried in the next issue of Shehjar magazine, due within the next 2 weeks.
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