Samar Harlankar

From Hindustan Times: “A night without end

‘Liberty has never come from the government,’ observed Woodrow Wilson, the 29th US president, sometime before World War I. “Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance.” If you were to consider the true meaning of liberty, you cannot fault the angry young men — and now women — rampaging through the streets of Kashmir. It is a truism that this Kashmiri generation has known only conflict, and it’s quite obvious they believe freedom, azaadi, cannot be bestowed, that it must be achieved, that the time is now. And so they burn police stations, government offices and frighten security forces with a hate so deep and a fury so intense that even the separatists and India are stunned.

Not in the worst days of militancy has Srinagar seemed so distant from Delhi, now witnessing the consequences of an era of duplicity and dishonesty. When school students as young as eight, but mostly in their teens, die every day — 27 people are dead since Friday alone — it’s hard to believe the sops that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah now seeks from Delhi will do anything to calm the rage.

It wouldn’t make a whit of difference if the UPA government were to pardon young men who crossed over to Pakistan, allowed more trade and people across the Line of Control, took away the sweeping powers that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) offers the army, and discussed the autonomy resolution passed by the Jammu and Kashmir assembly in 2000.

Tragically, azaadi is an ‘impossible (?)’ dream.

The truth is Kashmir will not get azaadi — for the same reason the Muslim Kurds will not get their homeland from Turkey, itself a Muslim-majority nation; for the same reason the Chechens, or the Nagas, will not be a country.

The future is bleak for Kashmir’s GenNext because it finds no support across India, even from fellow Muslims, many of whom still struggle with acceptance. As one of my best friends put it: “As an Indian Muslim, I am still paying the wages of Partition.”

There are no easy solutions to Kashmir’s rage. In the short term, the government must urgently fix its ill-trained security forces. It is inexcusable that every dead teenager has been shot above the waist during the rioting, sparking new frenzies. It is inexcusable that some paramilitary forces, in response to teens shouting the Islamic war cry ‘Nara-e-takbeer, Allah-o-Akbar’, are responding with the Hindu war cry ‘Har, Har Mahadeo!’


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