It is no wonder that the separatist conglomerate in Kashmir is looking at the ongoing face-off between the state of Israel and the terrorist organisation Hamas in Palestine as much needed oxygen for their, by now, irrelevant and redundant agenda
J&K police have arrested at least 20 people, including a separatist leader who protested in support for Palestine and an anti-India artist who drew graffiti in solidarity with the Palestinian people
The separatist and certain other segments of the political leadership in Kashmir have often displayed a proclivity to use, in reference to the Kashmir issue, high sounding words that apply mostly to diplomacy in international disputes. If there is talk of demilitarisation anywhere in the world, automatically there is talk of demilitarisation in the Kashmir Valley; if a truth and reconciliation commission is being established somewhere, a demand is raised in Kashmir for a similar dispensation in Kashmir. This has, for long, remained a clever ploy to give an impression that Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) is a region under dispute.
The Palestine situation is one that has been flogged the maximum by these elements in their attempt to project themselves as long-suffering freedom fighters. Therefore, it is no wonder that the separatist conglomerate in Kashmir is looking at the ongoing face-off between the state of Israel and the terrorist organisation Hamas in Palestine as much needed oxygen for their, by now, irrelevant and redundant agenda.
During the period of massive social disruption witnessed in the erstwhile state of J&K from 2008 to 2010, the romanticism of equating Kashmir with Palestine gained precedence. The Kashmir youth were programmed and indoctrinated to identify with the face covered “Palestinian Intifada” throwing stones at the mighty Israeli Army as the ultimate example of Islamic resistance.
The narrative was successful in motivating some segments of the Kashmiri youth. Suddenly, stone-pelting against security forces in Kashmir became a symbol of the freedom struggle, as did acts like snatching weapons from security forces, use of women in protests and carrying out attacks on motorcycles etc. A huge boost in terrorist recruitment from among the locals was witnessed, giving birth to poster boys like Burhan Wani.
In their attempt to exploit to the hilt the heightened tensions in the Gaza strip, the separatists are motivating the people of Kashmir to raise their voices in support of the Palestinians in the Gaza strip. Social media and religious leaders speaking from Mosques on loudspeakers and in congregations are being used for this purpose. The idea is to build up the matter to a crescendo where people come out on the streets and the old times of stone-pelting and social disruption are resurrected.
The Jammu-Kashmir Police is very clear that while the people have the right to express their opinions, they cannot hold protests and disturb peace and order established with great effort. The Police are determined to ensure that a few people who have a vested interest in causing disruption are not allowed to trigger public anger leading to violence, lawlessness and disorder. This determination is driven by the knowledge that such a situation can lead to big gatherings and cause a spike in the COVID cases at a time when great effort is being put in by one and all to contain the spread of the infection.
“We are a professional force and are sensitive to public anguish. But J&K police has a legal responsibility to ensure law and order as well. It will not allow cynical encashment of the public anger to trigger violence, lawlessness and disorder on the streets of Kashmir,” said IG Kashmir, Vijay Kumar.
In their attempt to exploit to the hilt the heightened tensions in the Gaza strip, the separatists are motivating the people of Kashmir to raise their voices in support of the Palestinians in the Gaza strip. Social media and religious leaders speaking from Mosques on loudspeakers and in congregations are being used for this purpose. The idea is to build up the matter to a crescendo where people come out on the streets and the old times of stone-pelting and social disruption are resurrected
It is for this reason that a very close watch on the situation is being kept; posting of sensitive material related to the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict is being monitored and a warning of strict action against those who use social media to ignite passions has been issued. “All irresponsible social media comments that result in actual violence and breaking of law including COVID protocol will attract legal action,” said Vijay Kumar in a tweet.
The seriousness with which the police are pursuing its determination to keep the streets free of protests can be gauged by the fact that 21 people, including youth who were breaking COVID restrictions and attempting to demonstrate in the streets in support of the Palestine struggle have been taken into preventive custody. This includes a rabid cleric and religious preacher, Sarjan Barkati, who has been attempting to leverage the Palestine issue to arouse passions among the youth. Barkati is a known radical who remained in jail under the Public Security Act for four years before being released in October 2020.
Peace has emerged as a reality in Kashmir after the great sacrifice of the people and the security forces. The relentless vigil that would ensure that terrorism or social disruption never raise their ugly head again is of great importance.
The separatists and other elements in Kashmir that work at the behest of inimical foreign powers want the world to believe the ludicrous notion that there is a freedom struggle in Kashmir; the reality is that the people of Kashmir are enjoying the fruits of freedom and democracy at par with the rest of India, a nation that provides the highest levels of liberty through constitutional provisions.
The harmony that has developed within the Union Territory state and the positive relationship of Union Territory with the rest of the country that is so clearly emerging needs to be safeguarded to ensure that all effort is directed towards development. All efforts need to be directed towards the process of rebuilding what has been lost both emotionally and materially.
If sustainable peace is the dream of all Kashmiri’s, then the first step should be abjuring of all attempts to spread hate and misinformation. One cannot deny to all citizens of the country the right to express themselves, but, given the sensitivities involved, there is a need to be circumspect in expressing views. Throwing around invalid comparison without any thought to the difference in the meaning and the connotation need to be contained. There is a need for the Government and the people to stay vigilant about evil intentions of some who do not wish well for the region and thwart their malevolent designs.
(The writer is a Geo-strategic analyst and columnist)