The Bold Voice of J&K

The terror within!

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 Nilesh Kunwar

Till now one had heard separatists and militant outfits complaining that Kashmiris were being ‘terrorised’ by security forces, intelligence agencies and the police. But after seeing the recent developments in the Valley it appears that separatists and the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) too haven’t spared the common man in Kashmir either.
Let us start with the recent unrest. For five and a half months Kashmir came to a complete standstill as the separatists kept extending the duration of protests without realising the practical difficulties being faced by the common man. When people were forced to disregard curfew instructions issued by the Hurriyat due to medical emergencies, inescapable domestic requirements or some unavoidable social obligation like visiting ailing or bereaved relatives and friends, they were prevented from doing so and insulted, abused and even attacked by groups of young boys.
The highhandedness and insensitivity displayed by these young boys while dealing with locals and not even sparing the elderly was something that Kashmiri society had never experienced before. Perturbed by the uncivil behaviour exhibited by the youth, some highly respected members of society brought this to the notice of the Hurriyat leadership. Regrettably, the separatist amalgam took no concrete measures to prevail upon the youth and ensure that they stop behaving in a discourteous and violent manner. Instead, they sidelined this issue by saying that those indulging in such shameful acts were ‘paid agents’ of the government who were trying to discredit the agitation.
Only in incidents where the role of local youth was established beyond doubt did the Hurriyat react? But even in such cases only mild statements expressing unhappiness over the incident were issued! This gave the youth a free hand to continue terrorising the public by forcing them to follow the Hurriyat’s directives. It was undoubtedly a well planned and clever manoeuvre. People stopped venturing outside due to the fear of being humiliated or attacked and the separatists publicised this as an indicator of the massive public response to their appeals. They cleverly omitted any mention of the coercion that forced the people to obey their diktats and instead cited this as proof that the public was ‘wholeheartedly’ following their appeals to observe ‘curfew’ by ‘willingly’ staying indoors!When school buildings mysteriously started going up in flames one after another the Hurriyat once again claimed that this was the government’s diabolical plan. To demonstrate its concern the separatist amalgam assured the public that it would soon expose the “conspiracy” behind the school burning incidents by unmasking the culprits who were on the government’s payroll. But while the Hurriyat hasn’t done so till now, rumours are rife in downtown Srinagar and elsewhere that don’t exactly match the claim made by separatists. While there is a near unanimous agreement regarding a conspiracy behind burning of schools in Kashmir, opinions on who exactly is behind this conspiracy vary. But what stands out is that almost no one believes the Hurriyat’s allegations that the government had a role in it.
While the Hurriyat has been using covert means to terrorise people, the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) is doing so openly. It has recently come out with a video warning people to stay away from 26th January functions, failing which they would have to face dire consequences. In this video an HM commander can be heard explicitly mentioning that those who attend 26th January functions would be considered “traitors” and meted out “strict punishment.” He goes on to caution the relatives and friends of those who attend 26th January functions that they “should not complain later that the HM took extreme action against them (the ‘traitors’).”
The separatists constantly brag about their overwhelming popularity amongst the people of Kashmir. But if this is really so then why does the Hurriyat need to declare a ‘curfew’ on 26th January? Isn’t its usual declaration of 26th January as a ‘Black Day’ good enough to convey the message to the ‘faithful’ and ‘Azadi’ loving people of Kashmir not to participate in any function on that day? By imposing a ‘curfew’ on 26th January the Hurriyat has tried to ‘doubly insure’ that people don’t participate in any function on that day. This only goes to show that while the separatists do have considerable influence over the people, they still aren’t all that confident that the public would wholeheartedly comply with the 26th January boycott call.
Similarly, in its latest video a HM commander boasts that the people of Kashmir are with the militants and not with mainstream politicians. To prove this he has come up with a rather novel challenge asking “Mehbooba (Mufti) and other pro-India politicians” to stay in their homes or native places for just 15 minutes without security. The HM commander hasn’t clarified how exactly the act of mainstream politicians staying without security for 15 minutes will prove who the people of Kashmir are with. But what he is hinting at is very obvious and this thought process, even if hypothetical, is absolutely gross!
If the HM is so confident that the people of Kashmir are with them then where was the need for it to upload a video heavily pregnant with threats? If the people wholeheartedly and without any coercion support the HM then wouldn’t a simple public appeal for boycotting 26th January functions be enough? Just like the Hurriyat, the HM too knows that ‘obedience’ of the masses can only be ensured by instilling fear amongst them and that is why it isn’t ashamed of terrorising the common Kashmiri!
Tailpiece- The separatists and the HM assert that they are fighting for getting the people their right of self determination. But from their actions it is clear that they have, without even consulting the public, already concluded that the people of Kashmir want to go with Pakistan! They have dubbed mainstream politicians as ‘paid agents’ of New Delhi and declared them ‘traitors.’ But if the same yardstick that they use to denounce mainstream politicians is applied to them then the separatists and HM are definitely fit the bill of ‘Pakistan’s ‘B’ team’ in Kashmir. In this melting pot of conflicting ideologies aggravated by an unfettered war for supremacy, it is the ordinary Kashmiri who is the real loser as these players are manipulating public behaviour by using unethical means.

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