Peter Goodspeed

From National Post: “Youth in Revolt

“It is being called a “cyber-intifada” — a violent rebellion in which youths, armed only with stones and cellphone cameras, are challenging Indian rule in the Himalayan valley of Kashmir.

Day after day for three months, thousands of angry, disenchanted young people have clashed with heavily armed Indian security forces, taunting the soldiers with chants of “India Go!” and “Freedom for Kashmir!,” while bombarding them with stones and insults.

The soldiers regularly respond with volleys of tear gas and rifle fire.

The youths record and photograph the clashes, posting images of the dead, sobbing mothers and funerals on Facebook and other websites.”

Since then, the entire Kashmir valley has been subjected to a six-day, round-the-clock curfew that has failed to stop the confrontations or the killings.

Thousands of police and paramilitary troops have been deployed to keep the valley’s eight million residents indoors; all flights to and from Srinagar’s airport were suspended for three days; and the only road connecting Kashmir with the rest of India is blockaded by soldiers.

India’s government, worried the insurrection could tarnish next month’s Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, held an all-party emergency meeting Wednesday to search for ways to quell the unrest.

But all they could agree on was to send a fact-finding team to Kashmir next week to consult other politicians and community leaders in India’s only Muslim-majority state.

No one expects that to accomplish much.

“Kashmir’s young people no longer respond to orders; they are giving them.

That could mark the beginning of a dangerous new phase in the 60-year-old conflict.”

“So far, the youth movement has no real political or economic agenda. The mobs are united by anger and reject the political establishments who have manipulated Kashmir for decades.”

With nearly 600,000 troops in Kashmir, policing a population of just eight million, the valley has become one of the most militarized societies on earth.

Soldiers with automatic rifles and bullet-proof vests guard almost every street corner.

Combat patrols roam the countryside and heavily armed military convoys snake slowly along valley roads.

Once regarded as “paradise on earth,” Kashmir has lived with a ferocity and fear that has left most residents exhausted and broken.

As a result, an overwhelming sense of antagonism and alienation lingers over the valley like smoke after a disaster.”

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