The Pulwama Attacks have been avenged. The wee morning onslaught by the Indian Air Force is bravado, a job well done. Now, it’s the ‘Indians’ celebrating and Pakistan fumbling to get its act right. But is this the end of the ‘sworn vengeance’? Can the people get back to their normal lives without thinking of blood for blood and retribution? Can there be no attack on Kashmiris? Can there be peace talks over the ‘Kashmir Issue’? Will India and Pakistan now come up with a common ‘Kashmir Peace’ policy? Or is there more to come?
Kashmir has once again plunged into an eerie quietness. It’s deafening. After the Pulwama terror attacks, the Kashmiris have been at the receiving end, facing the brunt from their fellow Indians. Unlike what some ‘groups’ have been spreading, Kashmiris don’t want war.
For decades, they have been at the receiving end of the armed forces. The nineties was full of it. Midnight knocks on doors and windows. Fathers, uncles and brothers have been whipped away into the dark of the night by the armed forces in front of crying and terrified women and children.
Some of them were never seen again. Whilst some returned in agony and were never the same again. Militants die in encounters but their families suffer. The innocents are victimized and regularly called to the army camps for a ‘routine check’. These are no tell-tales. This is the reality of the Srinagar, and various districts of Kashmir.
There are mass graves as well as ‘marty graves’. There are countless families without a breadwinner. They either joined militancy and got killed in the encounter, or have ‘disappeared, or fell to the bullets of the armed forces in protests or have been maimed to the brutality of on-off interrogation. Moving on to the new millennium, the atrocities, though the intensity decreased, it was still very much there, against the Kashmiris continued. For some reason or the other, the young youths have been targeted. And this is now embedded in the minds of Kashmiris.
The last decade has not been comforting either. Every two to three years, there is a protest, months-long shutdown or war-like situation. Kashmir tried to come back, in terms of business, after the 2014 floods but sank further after Burhan Wani’s encounter in 2016.
With the valley shut for almost ten months, the militant groups from across the border took advantage. They radicalized the youths saying that India was carrying out a genocide, thus the pellet guns and so on. The separatists also took advantage of this and once again emerged more powerful than ever and charged at the mainstream politicians. This resulted in many mainstream politicians publicly announcing that they had either left being a member of the so and so a political party or given up politics.
2017 was a struggling Kashmir, the Valley tried to get out of the doldrums of the past year. But the people were not happy with the separatists for calling off the ten months-long shutdowns. The people had asked for an ‘all-time’ solution.
2018 was full of encounters with more than 300 militants, many of them were university degree holders or research scholars, neutralized by the armed forces. Many said there was no state government so the armed forces went ‘all out’ on the militants. Then in the second month of the new year, 2019, the Pulwama attack. And this has resulted in chaos for Kashmir as rest of India continues with its everyday life.
Now that India has avenged the Pulwama attack and as New Delhi asserts that over 200 militants have been killed. Can India and Pakistan now get to the negotiating table and work on to solve the lingering Kashmir issues and end the bloodshed, please?
Fatima Chand, Srinagar, Kashmir
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