Kashmir crisis is now more about religion than politics 

The Valley is now seeing a desire for Muslim identify rather than the ‘Kashmiriyat’ of the past.

 |  4-minute read |   15-07-2016
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The mass uprisings we have been witnessing in Kashmir since 2008 must be seen in the right perspective.

Opinion is divided on the unrest in Kashmir. It is not about the stakeholders alone, who profess strident views on both sides. The political analysts and Kashmir watchers too have conflicting views.

For a section of observers, the Kashmir spring is the result of the alienation of the Kashmiris from the Indian mainland. They argue that the Centre is doing little to engage Kashmiris, and address the discontent.

Their theory is that people come out on the streets and indulge in violence to give vent to their anger and frustration against the Indian State.

Also read: Wake up before India loses Kashmir to collective conscience

They say that despite repeated cycles of mass agitations, the Centre does not reach out to the agitating Kashmiris, which further complicates the situation.

Recycling of militancy, according to this section, is due to the denial on part of the government of India to recognise the problem and address it.

kashbd_071516030713.jpg For a section of observers, the Kashmir spring is the result of the alienation of the Kashmiris from the Indian mainland.

In Kashmir too, both unionists and separatists argue that economic and employment packages won’t work. This argument is being reverberated with great fervour by Kashmiris for the last few days, in the post-Burhan violence.

These commentators have been urging the Centre to resolve the Kashmir issue by taking "bold political initiatives".

Though the problem of Kashmir is essentially political, it is far beyond politics alone – for varied reasons.

Also read: India makes Kashmir poorer, not richer

Many Kashmiris are now sick of discussing the history of the Kashmir issue. They want to focus on the situation of the Valley today.

A section of the Indian establishment has described the current spring as agitational terrorism. Kashmiri separatists call it a peaceful independence movement.

The protagonists of the Indian mainland and of Kashmir are in denial mode.

Going by the current fervour, using the word "denial" for anyone else other than the government of India will raise eyebrows.

The fact is that the argument on both sides is biased, based on their respective long-held views.

There are multiple factors responsible for the prevailing situation in Kashmir.

Alienation, of course, is at the centre of the present mess. Transformation is at the bottom of it.

The premises of both sides holding strident but opposing views are based on sentiment, not logic. These sentiments have now acquired a religious colour.

This is the transformation.

The agitation in Kashmir is now more religious in character, than political. The Indian response is equally based on religious lines.

These are the identified fault lines, with which we live today.

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Under the given scenario when right-wing Hindus are holding the reins of power at the Centre, the response to any situation is expected to be driven by a strong ideological basis.

In Kashmir, the radicalised mindset is now in direct confrontation with Hindu majoritarianism.

The Islamic radicalisation of Kashmir is now perfectly complemented and balanced by Hindu radicalisation. The two support and strengthen each other.

The mass agitations of 2008 and 2010 were not as religious in character, as the present one.

At the time, right-wing India was not seen as the obvious enemy.

Since May 2014, the radicalisation of Kashmir has deepened alarmingly.

Earlier, Kashmir was a matter of national prestige in times of peace, and a threat to Indian secularism in times of turmoil.

Now, the dynamics have changed. For right-wing India, Kashmir is an issue of precious real estate, and a threat to Indian nationalism.

On the other hand, the urge for azadi has actually subsumed a wide range of aspirations.

The Valley is now seeing a desire for Muslim identify rather than the "Kashmiriyat" of the past.

The basic urge has changed over the years.

Earlier, the azadi slogan was for autonomy and dignity. It is now the expression of hate and anger against Hindu India.

This feeling among Kashmiris have emboldened the militants to assume a leadership role. This was not the case till 2014.

The ongoing violent protests are the manifestation of this accumulated anti-India rage. The rage is intense now and it reflects the transformation of a largely homogenized society.

Under these circumstances, political engagement with Kashmiris seems difficult.

What needs to be done to de-escalate the situation is to encourage some specific forms of protest and discourage others. 

Writer

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