Pratap Bhanu Mehta in New Delhi

From Indian Express: “Stones and Silence

“We can debate the security rationale of our troop strategy in Kashmir. We can acknowledge the toll our strategy is taking on the security forces, whose edginess and internal corrosion are a symptom of the price they have paid. But we have not fully understood what it means to live life under the daily interdictions of security forces, where the freedoms and status associated with citizenship seem so elusive to grasp. We make the mistake of assuming that a modicum of a representative process, the flow of funds, as important as they are, can compensate for the existential scars of living amidst a thick security cover.”

“What is revealing in this episode is how insecure the state is, and in a conflict situation obtuseness and insecurity are a deadly combination. In fact, perhaps the only thing that now bonds so much of the rest of India with Kashmir is that we cannot get the government to listen; we cannot get it to prevent it from becoming a victim of its own self-fulfilling fears.”

‘…there is something so predictable about how we all want to simply buy what the state is telling us. But more importantly, the whole construction now is to deny any legitimacy to protests in Kashmir. This may give us some ideological comfort. But its net effect is to marginalise the ordinary Kashmiri even more. First, they were under the pall of suspicion; now the sum total of our message to them is that they are also dupes, so we don’t need to take their protest seriously.”

“The proper response is for the state to accept radical criticism. At the risk of being graceless, let us ask ourselves honestly, how many of us have not, at some point, felt deep frustration at the state?”

“…the three things necessary for any possible pathway are completely missing: credibility in any of the parties, a willingness to take a risk and, most importantly, deep understanding.”

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