There are times, when in conflicts, established hierarchy betrays, reverses or inverts itself, the place or the binary distinction breaks down, while locating the moments of rupture caused by blunt trauma, torture, oppression and heebie-jeebies. This is not to permanently invert the edifice of hierarchy and lend legitimacy, but to expose the arbitrary or constructed narrative and nature of that hierarchy i.e. isolating the established hierarchy. When the seemingly dependent entity turns out to be foundational for the dominant entity, it finds subservient installation is the ground on which the dominant entity stands. Philosophically, this is the trichotomy (India – Indian establishment in Kashmir – People resistance group) that plays it out in the battlefield and also represents the present ontology of conflict state in Indian Occupied Kashmir.
India by virtue of its Machiavellian political structure has used her brains as evil genius to distort the history of Kashmir and terming it as its integral on a confounding anabasis of instrument of accession. From jugular vein to integral part lies an unending thirst of territorial expansionism and rising tide of fanatical Hindutva fascism. India manages Kashmir conflict shrewdly on international forums by referring it as a bilateral dispute between India and Pakistan and at home terms it as an internal matter, hence feeding kashmiris as “peaceful people, egregiously exploited by fringe religious fanatics, sponsored by arch enemy Pakistan to rebel against India” to common Indian masses with the help of fourth estate jingoistic media. In case of Kashmir, India media has rendered government’s role in New Delhi as second fiddle and constructs narratives and manufactures consent ad libitum. Since nationalism and patriotism debates have taken new heights under BJP lead India with purchase footing in neo-liberal economic policies and growing ambitions for membership in nuclear supplier group, Indian media follows a strict, systemic and conniving pattern of total blackout on current unrest in Kashmir while the government’s official maxim remains iron hand in a velvet glove.
The Kashmir Conflict is murky and baleful, once considered as heavenly serenity now turned as war-zone by India with express support of some kashmiri opportunists (commonly known in Kashmir as Indian stooges), which concentrically circles around blinding, maiming, intimidating, injuring and killing of common civilians in Kashmir en masse; seemingly simplistic but a dangerous endeavor, testified by history. However, paucity of space doesn’t allow me to invoke the history of this sanguinary conflict but I will logocentrically analyze the metaphors of pain and resistance, which have manifested in new forms with the passage of time, leaving India and its stooges buttoned up.
Kashmir has been a victim of state terrorism and violence and always been at the receiving end from India ever since Indian soldiers landed in the valley, in the form of massacres at places like Gawkadal, Khanyar, Tengpora, Zakura, kishtwar, Bijbehara, Doda, Wandhama, Hawal, Sopore, Aloosa, Kupwara, et`al. If one tries to locate the radius of these places on political map of Jammu and Kashmir, a gory image of a river filled with blood appears. Since these massacres were carried out by Indian soldiers in a conflict zone, included all those methods deemed by internal conventions as war crimes but the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and other allied lawless laws, provides immunity to these soldiers and hence can’t be tried in any civilian court and this dispensation keeps on committing such heinous and horrendous war crimes at their will, at the behest of Indian government in New Delhi under the garb of farce Counter Insurgency( COIN).
However, after the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the brainchild of Indian security corridors, was at helm of affairs in 2002, there was a “perceived” shift from armed to non-violent resistance in Indian camps. The PDP structure was created by Indian espionages in such a manner that it was portrayed to masses in Kashmir as “soft separatists with self rule as agenda” in order to annihilate the “Hurriyat Conference” (amalgamation of pro-resistance parties) which works for right to self-determination of kashmiris in accordance with the aspirations of kashmiris as mentioned in UN resolutions on Kashmir. The dictum was clear for PDP “behave like a normal party in a normal state”. To get a grip on things and have a say in entirety, PDP started having meetings with journalists, ex-militants, political renegades and other bureaucrats. It started showing concerns for state excesses, extra-judicial killings, demanding release of political prisoners, dialogue with Hurriyat conference. It would vehemently critique government of India approaches towards Kashmir and ask for implementation of UN resolutions on Kashmir but the real and ugly face of PDP was only to be disclosed later in 2014, when it entered into coalition with Indian right wing Hindu fascist party BJP to form government in the valley and now seems curtains for the party in valley.
Although the elections in Kashmir continued to be held under the covert overture of barrel and client regimes kept on changing but what never changed was the “longing for freedom (Azaadi) and an iron will of kashmiris to die for it”. Armed rebellion never crossed the Styx in kashmir, despite the fact that India kept on dispatching its armed contingencies to valley, approximately figuring 7 lakh, which ratio proportionately implies: for every nine kashmiris, there is a one Indian armed soldier. Security establishments in their grandeur of delusion and a sense of mental fragmentation fed by hindutva pride, approached Kashmir conflict parochially in terms of status quo,
development and demographic transmogrification in a bizarre and grotesque manner, only to boomerang later.
The rebels and pro- resistance leadership desperately needed to buy and kill the time and period between 2002-16 essentially served as capitalization time (sic) with the spirit of age and in the face of the occupier. The popular armed uprising of 1990’s was almost cut to size brutishly and ruthlessly by Indian armed and paramilitary forces, which involved the sadistic and austere murder of unarmed 1800 activists of Jamaat e Islami as well. Rebels and pro-resistance camp had lost the grip on things between 1997-2005, because of fear factor created by trunk headed Indian security cohorts across the length and breadth of the state. The benign, compassionate and thoughtful nudge was needed to recreate the moments and fervor of social legitimacy, whereby violent and non-violent ways of resistance are akin to bread and butter of common kashmiri masses and to a greater extent have been successful in this ploy. Still, cadre and institution building is needed, which can essentially act as buffer when the resistance is to be streamlined in future. They hurriyat conference is caught in a catch twenty two and to my optimism, if they do they are damned and if they don’t they are doomed.
Globalization of Resistance and the Rise of New Rebellion
As Indian legal luminary, AG Noorani says “it’s not a revolt but a revolution”, the present generation has shouldered the responsibility of carrying the charge of light brigade in a new direction. These young boys and girls were raised and nourished in the lap and under the shades of crackdowns, curfews, mass rapes, disappearances, custodial killings, judicial murders, intimidation, humiliation, subjugation, oppression and worst of all under “Occupation”. With the advent of social media, online newsletters, tabloids and other platforms, the simmering outrage of Kashmiri’s is visible on these platforms and in a great deal has helped them to destroy the façade and mantilla and breaking the impasse of fear created by security and political renegades in valley. The metaphors of pain and resistance have made them politically mature and intellectually sound, as put aptly and fearlessly in a column by a budding kashmiri scholar Umair Gul “A cliché as it may seem –Resistance cant be decorated bouquet of flowers when occupation is an ugly volley of bullets and pellets. The fact that occupation is multi-faceted, resistance can’t afford a monotonous luxurious response. This is war and documenting, historicizing and language building are just secondary exercises that complement actual fighting. War of positioning and war of manoeuvre are indeed two fronts, while mere positioning will yield little but strengthen an armed occupation, manoeuvring is primarily important. Since the armed phase of resistance and before that people have rendered innumerable sacrifices. In fact the struggle has been irrigated by the blood of martyrs and rightly so. Mothers haven’t stopped showering flowers on coffins of martyrs. Teary adieu funerals are symbolic pledges in support of continuing to offer sacrifices and are enough to debunk the argument of fatigue and non-readiness to offer blood”. There are countless examples like this which reflect the changed mindset of how kashmiri people approach the conflict and build narratives on logo centrism.
The last 15 years saw an uneasy calm in valley, disorderly ordered climate of violence and non- violence resistance. Bout of fear of persecution and intimidation, parents started sending their kids out of valley to study, which, through shared experiences and knowledge lead to the transformation of perceptions and created a bond of solidarity, unknown before in conflict ridden history of Kashmir. The Kashmiri Diaspora started relating to situations in valley more actively through books, blogs, music, art etc. This has created a sense of belongingness and now people have started to reason Kashmir globally in the forms of seminars, conferences, workshops, concerts, where alternatives are searched for and haughty heap of Indian betrayal and lies are unveiled, hence blossoming from bottom to top.
Back in Kashmir, security establishments continued to stifle the dissent through crackdown on student activists and ex-rebels, hurling choicest abuses on folklore and intimidating them, so as to make them succumb to their authority and occupational rule. This didn’t get down well with the masses as it annihilated them emotionally and physically and resulted in deep alienation with India i.e. sentiments turned from anti India to hate India. The psi-ops and warfare pedagogy used by India pushed young Kashmiri’s to the wall and new indigenous brigade of well learned armed rebels sprouted from the very dungeons of valley, who allied with the residues of 90’s and a dawn of new guerrillas embarked the crimsoned canvass. One should try to draw parallels between “rampant corruption and spending in Indian army and pushing Kashmiri’s to the wall, denying them the legitimate space other than arms” as reflected in the book “blood on my hands: confessions of staged encounters”. These valorous rebels were loved, respected, cherished, blessed, and sheltered by the natives, the manifestation of which was only to be seen later in the funeral processions of top rebel commanders “Abu Qasim and Burhan Wani”.
Burhan, a tech geek, had a new sense of intent and purpose and stroked a chord of harmony, honor and self esteem with the people of valley by posting the pictures and videos of his associates, navigating through the valleys of heart and mind and welcoming Kashmiri pundits to valley and assuring the safety of Hindu pilgrims to amaranth cave, attracted everyone in and outside Kashmir towards burhan in particular and new rebellion in general. He got what he aspired for, his martyrdom broke the shackles of fear and replaced it with sense of honor and integrity in the heart of every Kashmiri, basically a super operative, who had dedicated his life for the sublime cause and Indian security forces in the Burhan aftermath have retaliated by killing over 100, injuring 15000, blinded 400, arrested 5000.
Kashmir is witnessing a surge in hate India moments for the past four months and it’s likely going to continue despite the harsh winter and may also witness some fatigue but it will definitely spiral in the form of new uprisings, which all will pay homage and will be part of this new revolution. The longer India holds onto this territory, the more blood will be spilled not only in valley but in India, because Kashmir revolution is trending in other parts of India as well: sooner the wiser, Burhan was not the first and will never be the last.
(Shahid Lone is a doctoral candidate in political economy at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He hails from Kashmir and his columns have featured in various international newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at [email protected].