For over 70 years, unarmed Kashmiris, including men, women, school-going boys and girls and aged people have continued to witness mental, psychological as well as physical humiliation and torture. Every day, there are incidents of gashing of eyes, use of ever-new methods of persecution during unending curfews, torching of their villages along with crops and destruction of their business as well as economic life. In fact, a complete genocide of the Kashmiri people is in utter defiance of international Human rights laws. The Kashmiri youth is retaliating by pelting stones. The Indian media and government both are convinced by the view that those pelting stones are pro-Pakistan elements. They are either being instigated by Pakistan or they may be doing this for money. As these young men have been resorting to pelting stones as a form of protest and anguish. One can see the clear pattern in worsening repression and an increase in their activities after every major act of hanging-murder , Afzal guru (2013) and recently Burhan Wani (2016).
The turmoil in Kashmir got intensified after the encounter of Burhan Wani in July 2016. It has been worsening ever since. Post Burhan Wani murder, the Kashmiri political leadership gauged the intensity of the situation. Mahbooba Mufti, then Chief Minister of the ruling coalition, wanted to go for a dialogue with the dissenters, but her coalition partner and the party leading at center BJP shot down the idea. It seems the ruling BJP wants to take a hard line to deal with dissidence by intensifying the suppression, as they only view the dissidents as pro-Pakistan elements not humans. But the real question is that who are these boys who pelt stones? Are these merely Pakistan inspired and funded youth? In the aftermath of state crackdown, hundreds have died, thousands have been wounded and many more have lost eyesight. The whole of Indian media is going hammer and tongs about the role of Pakistan and the funding these stone-pelters receive. The point to ponder is that will young people risk their life, loss of eyesight or other harm to body just for someone’s bidding or some money? Many of them are teenagers, tech savvy and they are so much full of deep hatred that they are willing to risk their lives, not caring about their future. Showing the horrific level of degree of frustration among them.
In 2016, I met a MBA student from south Kashmir, while asking him questions about political scenario of Kashmir, he told me, that he is a stone Pelter because whole of the Kashmir has been occupied against the will of Kashmiri people. The Govt is interested in land but the people of Kashmir. Stone pelting is not new in Kashmir but goes back to 1947. The mothers to whom Omar AndMehbooba have appealed to keep their children indoors, have come out on the streets pelting stones themselves from time to time.
Only a small section of media has gone deeper into the issue and have interviewed some of them. The stories of their experiences and feelings shatter one’s perceptions about law and order in Kashmir. Many belong to families which have given up hope of any type. Most of these young boys have experienced torture, beating, harassments of sorts and often humiliation. For many of them stone throwing comes as sort of catharsis, a feeling of having taken revenge of what has happened to them. It is the only strong way of protest they must be feeling is left for them. This in turn is due to the suffering and pain to which Kashmir has been subjected due to the prolonged highly military presence in the area.
If I die in the Battle zone.
Box me up and send me home,
Put stones on my chest,
And tell my mom i did my best,
And N tell my dad not to bow,
He will not get tension from now,
Tel my bro study perfectly,
Keys of my bike will be hispermanently,
Tel my sis don’t b upset,
Her bro will rise after this sunset,
Tel my love not to cry,
cozI m an “STONE PELTER BORN TO DIE” ( Unknown Poet)
Nearly seven decades after the accession of Kashmir to India, there is a need to recall that forcible merger; repression of dissent was never the idea of founders of Indian nation.
Snedden provided suggestions on how to resolve the Kashmir conflict. For him, the blame equally lies with India and Pakistan both, because they are intransigent states who are obsessed with Kashmir though he cites fourteen events in between 1950 – 2005, which (he claims) could have altered the status quo but unfortunately couldn’t. The international powers have no compelling reasons to intervene either. So, the best way is to let the people decide, as the first party to the Kashmir dispute. Let them discuss the issue among themselves and arrive at a solution; this approach is reasonable and in conformity to the UN resolution also.
(The author is a noted human rights activist. His views are personal)