Kashmiri Society Will Have To Come Out Of Denial Mode Or This Destructive Fire Of Terror Will Burn Us All

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Salim Dar

 The last few weeks in Kashmir have been extremely tragic. It is highly unfortunate that once again our land has turned red with the blood of innocent people splattered by Pakistan’s proxies. This time the victims are poor Golgappa sellers and labourers from Bihar and UP, prominent Kashmiri Pandits and a Sikh Principal, and also numerous Muslims. Leaving aside politics, the murder of innocent people is an extremely inhuman act anywhere and everywhere. It must be condemned by everyone. But the terror has been so severely weaponized by the Pakistani deep state in Kashmir that they don’t care about humanity and ethics anymore.

Pakistan has created ruthless, inhuman zombies in Kashmir using the power of religion. They execute utter perfidy on the ground showing complete disregard for basic human decency and rights. The attackers who committed these gruesome acts need to realize that the language of terror can never dampen the spirit of the always plural Kashmiri ethos.

Some Elite Drive The Conflict, The Poor Kashmiris Suffer

We know that most of the victims of Pakistan’s proxy war in Kashmir have been people belonging to poor farming and labour class. The rich elites have immensely benefitted from the tragedy. Some of these elites continue to validate such acts of violence while enjoying opulent, peaceful lives in Malaysia, Europe, America, and the Gulf. But the common Kashmiris continue to suffer.

The suffering Kashmiris include people of all classes –civilians, policemen, security personnel, and now these migrant labourers. I will include even militants among the suffering Kashmiris. Many of them are innocent, gullible youth who are deliberately pushed into the terror ecosystem. This is a brutal fact of this conflict. It is true of conflict anywhere on earth, which often gets overlooked. The poor people like the ones who were brutally murdered know no political and religious barriers. Their only concern is to survive amidst adversity by earning livelihood through blood and sweat. This basic question of livelihood brings thousands of labourers to Kashmir every year despite the turbulent conditions prevailing here. They came here the same way labourers from Jammu and Kashmir go to work in other states during the winters.

Kashmir Depends On Migrant Labour

Even though this manufactured conflict has raged for three decades, Kashmir has always welcomed the non-local labourers who hail from the various states. They come even from outside India, like from Nepal. In fact, much of Kashmir’s labour force is dependent on states like Bihar and UP. Unfortunately, the recent attack has created fear and uncertainty among them and they are leaving. Many of them had stayed back even during the Covid lockdowns. They did so probably because of the trust and amity they enjoy with the locals. In Kashmir, the outside labour felt secure and welcome because they were provided with good wages. Unlike the rest of India, they were also provided with free meals and accommodation by the locals.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir has always been characterized by communal harmony and rich traditions of brotherhood. These values have stood the test of times even during the most horrendous phases of turmoil in the state. It is difficult to fathom why these poor labourers were targeted. The perpetrators of these attacks need lessons on how the secular and syncretic fabric of Kashmir has survived despite difficult circumstances. They forget the “light” that Mahatma Gandhi saw in Kashmir amidst all the bloody events of the partition in 1947. The killings are also an indication of the continuation of the vicious cycle of violence and death which is now the daily feature. It is sadly the new low of common Kashmiri life despite all the government claims. No one seems to be safe in Kashmir. It is a fallacy to assume that even the majority community is safe. Every day brings the sad news of killings from somewhere.  While all this is carrying on, the government seems to be helpless.

We Cannot Allow The Wounds Of 1990s To Be Inflicted All Over Again

There also appears to be an indifference and weariness overtaking Kashmiri civil society regarding the tragic happenings. The right-wing circles continue to stoke hatred on social media in mainland India using Kashmir. It cannot go on like this. There has to be an end to it. But when will this dark phase end? No one is sure about that, given the levels of despair and hopelessness creeping in.

The basic fact remains that every Kashmiri, regardless of political and religious affiliation, has no choice but to forthrightly condemn such brutal attacks. I cannot stress enough that such attacks are highly condemnable. They not only go against the Kashmiri ethos but also against basic humanity. These attacks never help the cause of social bonding in Kashmir, which suffered irreparable damage in the 1900s because of forced Pandit migration.

We cannot allow the wounds of 1990s to be inflicted all over again because of terror and fear sponsored from Rawalpindi by the vicious generals of Pakistan Army and their local cohorts. The test of any society’s humane character is how it treats its minorities. To be honest, we have largely failed this test in the last three decades. It is an abject and shambolic fact of our society which can no longer be brushed under the carpet. Pakistani-sponsored enterprise of death, destruction, and inhumanity will have to be foiled by the Kashmiris in order to survive as a society. Mere lip-service condemnation and evasive attitudes of indulging in absurd conspiracy theories won’t help. Kashmiri society will have to come out of the denial mode otherwise this destructive fire of terror is going to burn us all.

Already, the existing fear and insecurity is once again forcing Kashmiri Pandits to leave their homes for safety and survival. Their long-cherished dream to return to their homeland is again being snatched by the Pakistan-sponsored terrorists and other proxies. Over the years, this displaced community had to suffer a lot. They are again being ruthlessly targeted for no fault of theirs. Nothing can match the agonized memories of this displaced and repressed community. It is also a matter of extreme shame and denunciation for the majority community in Kashmir.

Our Silence Won’t Help Us

Even though these murders were condemned by some sections of Kashmiri society, but still large sections maintained indifferent silence, while some indulged in conspiracy theories. It is imperative that every section of Kashmiri society rises in unison in forthrightly condemning the dastardly attacks. Till the time Kashmiris as a whole don’t stop sanctioning and supporting the violent acts of Pakistan’s proxies, the lip service condemnation will mean nothing. This realization has to grow within the large sections of the Kashmiri society. We must understand that for preserving the future of Kashmir’s majority and minority communities, we need to delineate our lives – especially our young people – from the growing religious extremist consciousness being driven by Pakistani deep state and its proxies in Kashmir.

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