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READING LIST

AUGUST 2016 ISSUE

Force Magazine

The New Normal

Collective amnesia on Kashmir’s history of discontent is dangerous for India
 

Pravin Sawhney and Ghazala Wahab

Either all of us are living in a fantasy world, or as a nation, we have voluntary suspended disbelief. Nothing else can explain the response of the government of India, the entire political class cutting across party lines and the mainstream media to the so-called disruption of ‘normalcy’ in the Kashmir valley.

Collective amnesia on Kashmir’s history of discontent is dangerous for India

Expressions of shock, anger and threats have been hurled against Pakistan for fomenting the unrest in the Valley after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on 8 July 2016; and surprise, dismay and detached empathy are being expressed towards Kashmiris by the hand-wringing Indian mainstream. They are unable to understand what is wrong with these people. Why are they being ungrateful wrecks, standing with a ‘terrorist’ against the great Indian nation? What inhumanity they display celebrating the martyrdom of patriotic Indian soldiers and mourning the deaths of terrorists? Is it the glamour of weapons? The lure of political Islam? Or the simple business of terrorism being flogged by a handful on the pay-rolls of Pakistan?

No less than a person of Union home minister’s stature spoke in Parliament, raising these questions. He spoke expansively about Pakistan misguiding Kashmiri youth, leading them astray. Both his mannerism and words conveyed that the government has been taken by surprise by the mini-uprising after Wani’s killing and that relentless tumult on the streets was one-off event which will be quelled by the Centre. He assured the nation that the government will do everything in its power to bring ‘normalcy’ back on the streets of Kashmir, with sensitivity and humanity. He may as well have been talking about the rioting Jats of Haryana earlier this year.

Incidentally, taking a cue from him, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, who has inherited the mantle from her father Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, said roughly the same thing to the media in her first interaction since the Wani incident. On July 24, after her meeting with Singh in Srinagar, she told journalists: “The country (Pakistan) that claims they are victims of terrorism themselves, encourages Kashmiri youths to take up guns. Pakistan needs to change this policy of theirs.”

That Mufti was completely out of her depth in the face of the first major crisis of her term was evident when a few days after her first plaintive statement she said that had her government been aware that Burhan Wani would be killed by the security forces, she wouldn’t have allowed the operation to take place. Why? Was he not a terrorist?

 
 
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