Power Versus Politics In Kashmir – OpEd


It is evident … that a conflict is always concerned with a distribution of power. Indeed, an exertion of power is prerequisite to the retention of a share in the determination of future relations–as well as for the acquiring or retaining of other benefits perceived as the “reasons” for conflict. — North, Koch, and Zinnes, 1960

The recent events of stone pelting of defence forces in Kashmir and emerging violence backed by separatists and the ISI demand a stringent action from those in power. The political cauldron in Kashmir is boiling and any chances of peace being restored in the valley seem like a distant dream. The alienation of the people and lack of socio political and economic opportunities makes things more difficult for the forces.

Conflict as the quintessential intermittent dissociative social process is often defined as a conscious action, as the deliberate attempt to oppose, resist or coerce the will of another or others. (Green, 1956). Gillin and Gillin (1948) opined that “Conflict is the social process in which individuals or groups seek their ends by directly challenging the antagonist by violence or threat of violence.”In order to understand conflict, social, economic, political and class related, one needs to develop deeper insights into the various dynamics of conflict, its causes, transformation and current manifestations. To put it in Marxist theoretical framework, Conflict simply is the Anti-Thesis of cooperation. It is struggle and opposition involving emotional altitude of hostility and violent interference with one’s autonomous choice.

Conflict is omnipresent. Its degree may vary from society to society. The element of consciousness is very crucial in conflicting scenarios. Those involved are fully aware of the harm they are causing to others and in particular the social fabric of the country where it erupts. There are not one but several triggers such as biological, social, economic, political, religious, ethnic etc.

The fulcrum of conflict in Kashmir is shifting inexorably in favour of the separatists. Statistics reveal a very disturbing picture of the number of Kashmiri men who have disappeared leaving their wives alone to live in perpetual fear. These “Half Widows” as they are called face the flak of both the forces and the government concerned.

The solution to the Kashmir issue is a political one and occasional use of hard force, counter insurgency operations are needed to keep the volatile situation in check. There have been numerous success stories where hard uses of power and force have wiped out all forms of terrorism from the society. There is the Chechnya example, the Sri Lankan example but following a similar tactics in Kashmir won’t work.

The expanding landscape of communication technology and the wide use of social media have made matters worse. After the killing of Hizbul operative Burhan Wani, the valley witnessed violence that takes us back to 1989-90. Several experts on Kashmir have written that a human shield is not the humanitarian form of dealing with stone pelters but what can the army do if the Kashmiris take to the street and attack defence personnel and vehicles.

The victimisation of the people, the alienation of the people and the increasing influence of Pakistan army and agencies on young minds need to be addressed. Opportunities for constructive work need to be created. The valley needs development and only then the conflict will transform itself into something more positive. Autonomy , freedom are all adjectives used to justify violence. It is historically established that Kashmir acceded to India so the question of giving it away to our notorious neighbour doesn’t arise.

Essentially there are four ways to address the issue. One, bring about large scale development, create jobs so that there is no brain drain. Two, involve the Kashmiris in decision making processes and keep them informed. Three, continue with counter insurgency operations to establish some form of peace in the valley and four recognise the rights of the people assuring them of proper action. Disillusionment needs to be done away with. It is a very dangerous term.

The controversial “Armed Forces Special Powers Act” needs to be looked at from a more humane perspective. The Armed Forces need to work in cooperation with the coalition government to seek possible solutions to the issue. Success stories of IIT’s and other academic institutions set a very good example but the Kashmiri youth largely is focussing more on the Radical forces hell bent on tearing the valley apart. The police and the defence forces need some form of reforms to tackle the situation. Kashmir has been the bone of contention between India and Pakistan for far too long. The bloodshed needs to stop and it can be stopped only politically.

The separatists and terrorists are taking undue advantage of the vulnerable sections of the Kashmiri population to further their agenda of “Aazaadi”. The confidence with which Pakistan supplies funds and weapons for the fight in Kashmir is known to the world , yet every time the Indian forces take action, they become the culprits in the eyes of the Media. The Media plays a very powerful role in changing mindsets , mostly against the Indian state. Though the Media in India is largely self regulated some form of control needs to be exercised especially in Kashmir. This is to stop the ongoing psychological warfare.

It is not hidden from the world that Pakistan’s agenda is to destabilise India through disguised aggression and continuous proxy war in Kashmir. A joint action needs to be taken and above all issues of socio economic development needs to be addressed with immediate attention. It is only development that can bring about change.

“An eye for an Eye makes the whole world blind” — M. K Gandhi

Vishakha Amitabh Hoskote

Vishakha Amitabh Hoskote is a Communication Professional, Research Scholar and a Defence Enthusiast. With an MA, MPHIL in International Relations, Political Science and Development Communications, Ms Hoskote regularly writes for Eurasia Review on subjects of geopolitical importance.

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