Kashmiri life devastated in the shadow of terror?
By Tej N Dhar?
Social Impact of Militancy in Kashmir, B A Dabla; New Delhi: Gyan Publishing House, 2011,Pp 295 (HB) Rs 750?
The impact of Kashmir’s two-decade old militancy has been studied variously by researchers belonging to different fields of inquiry. Dabla, who is a sociologist by training, states that the impact has been catastrophic; it has hit the people of Kashmir politically, culturally, educationally, economically, and psychologically. To demonstrate this, he has made what he calls a “scientific and realistic presentation of basic realities, problems, issues” related to militancy, by making use of “credible, authentic and primary” data provided by the government and the NGOs. But soon after, he states two more things that complicate his schema. First, that the leading objective of his study is “To carry out a critical analysis and objective assessment of the dynamics of the processes of social change and development in J&K state in the post-1947 era in general and during the past two decades in particular.” Secondly, that the book is in the form of a compilation of various papers written by him over a period of four to five years, some of which have already seen publication in journals, magazines, and newspapers.
To put his research in its proper perspective, Dabla sketches the political problem in Kashmir, with a period-wise analysis of post-accession developments in the state, from 1947 to 1989, and its differing perceptions because of the varied Indian, Pakistani, and Kashmiri perspectives. As if this were not enough for the purposes of his research, he writes another long chapter in which he takes a definitive position on events and happenings in the Valley: these he calls the indianisation of Kashmir, imposition of Hindu culture on Kashmir, negation of Kashmiri identity, demographic manipulation in Kashmir, economic and cultural deprivation of Kashmiri people, and their educational backwardness. The nature of his discussion is overtly political. He also tells us that militancy led to loss of life, rising rate of disability, collapse of the economy, and migration of people, particularly of the Pandits, which he, like many other politicians, blames on Jagmohan.
As we move ahead with the contents of the book, the research of Dabla finds its way into it. We get detailed account of changes in the patterns of family and marriage, the changing role of women and marriage practices, violence against women, social deviance, juvenile delinquency and the transformation of Kashmir from “crime free to crime full situation.” In all of them, we have the standard markers of a sociological investigation: the outline of the universe, research tools, collection of data and its representation in the form of tables, and analysis and results. In most of these, the impact of militancy is a minor factor. Take, for example, his observation on the rise of crime in the Valley: “the environment of inequality, competition and conflict created through the processes of modernisation, urbanisation, industrialisation, material development and so on contributed to this change…. This has happened in other societies in the developing world and this has also happened in Kashmiri society.” So, the rise of militancy added only an extra edge of complexity to this, which Dabla describes in his own colourful style: “this conflict and its implications proved accelerative-intensificatory factor for crime.”
The problem at the heart of Dabla’s book is that he has tried to accommodate his on-going research into a frame that necessitates a specific focus. I have already referred to his objective wherein he states that the book studies social change in post-1947 era in general and during the past two decades in particular. Even when he writes about the emerging social trends, many of them cannot be traced directly to militancy. The only thing that is the direct outcome of militancy is recorded in his chapter on the victims of violence: rise in the number of orphans and widows and half-widows, suffering of children, atrocities on women and problems faced by youth.
Dabla’s research work on the different aspects of Kashmiri society has a wide base and is not exclusively about the impact of militancy on it. It is also somewhat uneven because a considerable time gap separates his investigation of these different aspects. Nevertheless, his book provides interesting information about the changes that have taken place in Kashmiri society during the past several decades, including the more recent ones.
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