The terrorists are attempting to normalize exclusion. Terror blogs and terror operatives on the ground level have categorized outsiders as unacceptable in Kashmir. Their killing has been advocated. It is highly unfortunate that our politicians are deepening this perception in society. Our politicians are justifying the logic of exclusion. They are reinforcing the perception of outsiders as a burden upon Kashmir. This is a reality we shall have to confront. If we don’t speak out against what is wrong, our silence indicates our complicity. Through our silence, are we Kashmiris encouraging xenophobic and racist rhetoric?
Our political leaders, our political parties – all of them are deepening the dislike of the outsider. The political parties have intentionally built the local versus non-local narrative to create an environment of fear among the non-locals and minorities. This is being done under the garb of giving protection to indigenous identity and culture. These same politicians, academicians, journalists etc urge the state to create opportunities for higher studies and employment for Kashmiri youth across mainland India. On the other hand, they deny such opportunities for non-locals in Kashmir.
Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have been consistently demanding reservations for Kashmiri youth in professional and technical colleges outside Kashmir. Our youth have benefitted from the unique scholarship scheme for Kashmiri students called the Prime Minister Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS). But when similar benefits are extended to students from outside, our politicians oppose it vehemently. Recently, the government decided to reserve 15 percent seats for outside students in the medical colleges of J&K. This invited sharp criticism from our political leaders. They took the stand that non-locals should not be given any kind of reservation in J&K.
On October 6, Najmu Saqib, spokesperson, PDP termed the 15 percent reservation as “systematic decimation” of the healthcare sector in J&K. “If non-local specialists study here and then leave this place, who would serve the people of Kashmir?” PDP questioned. It is evident that politicians are inflaming the locals that their jobs are being snatched because Jammu and Kashmir is a union territory. By taking a harsh position, political parties are fanning hatred in the society against non-locals, whether it is the issue of domicile certificates, post-graduate seats or land laws. With these constant offensives, anger against the locals is rising to the fore. Political parties are fuelling this hatred to strengthen their domestic base. The politicians are channelizing the anger against the non-locals. Following the recent terror attacks in Kashmir, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Vijay Kumar said, “These acts are committed by newly recruited terrorists, or those who are about to join the terrorists’ ranks. In some cases, OGWs (over the ground workers of terrorist organisations) have been found directly involved.” If locals youngsters of a violent mindset are carrying out these attacks, it is indicative of the intensity of hate and the depth of radicalization.
And when any non-local or non-Muslim is brutally killed by terrorists all political parties come with crocodile tears for condolences. Global studies have established that the deepening sentiment of xenophobia and racism in a society may prompt physical or psychological attacks against those considered as outsiders. More and more members of minority communities who had stayed in Kashmir for years are now leaving in panic. We are increasingly becoming a homogenous society. We are exposing our children and grandchildren to the extreme dangers of enforced cultural homogeneity.
Terror Ecosystem forcing us to deny how we benefit from the services of outsiders
The terror ecosystem is forcing us into complete denial of the multiple ways in which Kashmir is benefitting from the services of outsiders. According to a report in The New Indian Express in August last year, 40,000 non-Kashmiri migrant workers were engaged in different works in the Union Terrbeforeior to the pandemic. By August 2020, about 25,000 non-Kashmiri migrant workers, who had gone to their respective states after the Covid outbreak, returned to Jammu and Kashmir, the Divisional Commissioner (Kashmir) was quoted in the news report.