Najeeb Mubarki in New Delhi

From The Economic Times: “The Politics of Protest in Kashmir

“The Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish once said that the Palestine-Israel conflict was also important in what it revealed about Israeli society, about what Zionism had done to the Jewish psyche. It is, without doubt, in times of extreme stress and conflict that a people, a nation, or just even a political system, both manifests its deepest urges, its driving forces, and its core aspirations . Taking that piece of historical wisdom , the current strife in Kashmir is, at heart, also about the battle over the content and essence of Indian polity and democracy . Without much hyperbole, India is facing an uprising in Kashmir.

If one were to take the eruption of the militancy in 1989 as the starting point, through the years of the armed forces re-establishing and asserting their supremacy, and the gradual shifting of Kashmiri resistance on to a political terrain , New Delhi’s overall response could well be termed one of the longest pacification campaigns of the century. But that has certainly not lessened the political reality, the political problem, which lies at the heart of the Kashmir issue and is one of the main reasons for the emergence of the phenomenon of an intifada-like situation in the Valley.

Faced with that sort of savagery , with not much by way of condemnation or concern expressed by Indian civil society at large — leave alone a state government seen as the instrument of a wider policy to curb protests and dissent at all costs — vast sections of Kashmiris seem to have relapsed into a firm belief that only by continuing such protests, despite the enormously high costs entailed, can they force some sort of political breakthrough.

THAT desperate thinking and situation is also a manifestation of a wider failure to actually try and comprehend contemporary Kashmir. The security paradigm in the state operates on the principle of force and fear, the belief that a Kashmiri can neither understand any other language nor be controlled by any other means. This wholly negates or prevents the state from realising that the years of strife and violence have bred a generation of Kashmiris that is politically aware, conscious of the rupture between the state’s discourse of rights and citizenship and the daily violence and denial of those rights in their own lives.”

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