Is Kashmir Really That Insecure? – OpEd


When we fail to blame anything in Kashmir, raising alarms on security and casting doubts on the security apparatus becomes the content of our daily discourse. Even politicians off and on use the phrase ‘insecurity in Kashmir’ or ‘Kashmir is insecure’ simply to target the rival parties, but overtly or covertly they undermine the efficiency of security mechanism at place and add to the magnititude of uncertainty already prevailing thereby having scores of ramifications in public and security circles. Is Jammu and Kashmir really so insecure, remains a disturbing and simultaneously a crucial question when we proudly argue that millions of the active deployment of multiple security agencies, state police, etc, are alert and doing their job with great vigil.

It’s not just leaders, but also the media keeps adding insult to injury by highlighting punch lines like ‘the security situation in the valley/state is tense’ mostly due to continued border skirmishes,’ the violence graph has highly increased in the state’, ‘we are back to 1990’s’, glorification of young militancy, Kashmir’s new age militancy, radicalization of youth in south Kashmir, ‘increasing terrorism in the entire J&K region’ and scores of other sensational lines and new tags which really have led to a mass scare and indirectly undermined the holistic and robust security apparatus at place. Such an irresponsible and unneeded glorification has a counter effect and virtually serves as an encouragement to the mischief mongers and enemies of peace. Yes there is a sense of feel insecure psyche among many people like Panchs, sarpanches, mainstream political party workers, etc, who feel insecure but that is purely the government’s concern and needs to be looked into seriously.

It is worth pondering the question, is it actually the sense of political insecurity of our politicians or others who directly or indirectly undermine the security mechanism (in the pretext of criticizing the ruling party) that otherwise needs more encouragement and morale boosting to overcome various challenges rather than a bashing via statements on insecurity. I would say at least the security institution should be kept away from politics and we all must stay away from doing the politics of insecurity in Kashmir as it can have serious security implications and can affect the morale of the forces especially police who are constantly under the burden of high alert culture.

After all there has to be a basis to undermine security and we must acknowledge that security is apolitical and insecurity is a state of mind. We must realize that so much of the security is not sitting idle and is consistently trying its best to maintain order at least now that there still is a lot of scope for improvement. Given the fact that the security policies and procedures do not appear out of nothing, but are part of the ongoing efforts to stabilize the target areas and keep watch on vulnerable areas and simultaneously watch the developments occurring carefully. This very process of securitization needs to be understood in a holistic perspective and appreciated by all and sundry without just playing the politics of insecurity. Let us recognize the fact that this ideally sophisticated and practically alert security makes an important contribution to the decreasing tensions and rising security sense in the valley but hasty security related or security targeted statements coupled with media exaggeration virtually shape the collective feel insecure psyche and make people re-imagine the brutal, violent, uncertain and turbulent past.

Also when we talk of insecurity in Kashmir, who do we consider insecure, masses or others or security itself. Masses have no enmity with anyone so they are not insecure, others are already secured and security is potentially strong enough to deal with any untoward happening around. While giving too much hype to insecurity of masses, we need to answer who are masses insecure from? Guerillas, military, police or others? Common sense dictates that it (insecurity widespread) is not a reality but things blown out of proportion. What remains is nothing but the politics of insecurity that should be replaced with some constructive idea which Kashmir direly is in need of. Yes it is agreed that masses feel insecure at times rather harassed by military or police insensitivities but situation is not too bad to be painted as a monster especially today when so much has changed on the ground though much more needs to be done to be people friendly.

Last Word

The public scare trend should go down as a scare leading to more scare and distrust begets distrust and uncertainty only. Also raising such concerns blindly, we as a state will be in a foot in mouth situation reflecting no trust in our security machine or raising eyebrows on their capabilities.

At this juncture I strongly believe that the security personnel seriously need more field sensitization and especially gender sensitization training that will enable them to develop more goodwill while operating. But honestly speaking and given the ground realities, forces have not improved enough in this perspective. Had the forces been people and gender sensitive such a dichotomy of ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ would not have evolved and Kashmir’s new age militancy faces like Burhan Wani and many others like him would not have taken a different route. Instead of solving the problem and taking the ‘young and educated militancy’ seriously, masses and politicians are making it more like a monster which perhaps has no solution. Last but more essential is that political leaders while targeting their opposites should never bring security in between as the fallout becomes bigger than their personal and party politics. Instead of talking fear and insecurity, our collective leadership should find more ways of crafting peace in Kashmir besides delivering social justice on the ground and punish all those who are involved in human rights abuse since 1989 be that forces, police or non-state actors.

A version of this article originally appeared in The Pioneer.

Dr. Adfer Shah

Dr. Adfer Shah, (Adfer Rashid Shah, PhD) is a New Delhi-based Sociologist and Social and Political analyst.He writes his columns for various reputed international and national media groups. He has been writing on South Asia's Socio-political realities especially on Kashmir sociology and Conflict Situation at Eurasia Review since 2012, where he is a Special Correspondent for South Asia Affairs and Associate Editor since January 2014. His recent publications include his three books (1)"Kashmir-Yearning for Peace: A Socio-Political history of Uncertainty and Chaos,2016" (ISSN: 978-3-659-55971-6), (2)'Social Science Research in Conflict Zones,2017' (ISBN: 978-620-2-47937- 0) and (3)'Tibetan Refugees in India: Struggle to Survive,2018' ( ISBN 81-8324-919-1)]..

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