Home Contact Us
Search :
   

J&K - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#3129, 18 May 2010
 
Why is the Youth Angry? Perspectives from Kashmir
Arjimand Hussain Talib
Columnist, Srinagar email: arjimand@gmail.com
 

It has been around eight decades since the youth of Kashmir first expressed their anger on the streets of Srinagar in 1931. Then the expression of their anger was seen as a sign of political catharsis. Long years of foreign rule and subjugation had brewed up a fury which was looking for a vent. The expression of anger on the streets also sought to re-assert the quest for Kashmiri identity and political emancipation. Today, some eight decades down the line, the expression and the quantum of that youth anger can still be seen in identical forms on Kashmir’s streets.

The subcontinent’s famous poet Sir Muhammad Iqbal’s philosophical and famous ‘Khaak-i-Arjimand’ couplet has long remained central to political philosophers’ understanding of the political volatility and spiritual restlessness in Kashmir. So what is it that sparks this anger even today?

When normal outlets of human expression remain choked, catharsis finds its likely way - either through slogans or rocks or other means of violent expression. There are reasons why despite the establishment of a ‘democratic’ political order in Jammu & Kashmir, the anger on its streets remains. The fundamental reason is political. There is a feeling of political and economic disempowerment. Kashmiri youth, faced with a strong state and its security apparatus, also nurse feelings of helplessness and powerlessness. Dissent, peaceful or otherwise, has almost always meant persecution. Some youth also tend to see their religious identity under attack. The cumulative result is accumulated anger.

The fourth generation of Kashmiris is today doing what the first generation did some 60-70 years ago; they are venting their anger and frustration with the political system through street resistance. Having no platform for expressing their political opinion, they resort to hurling stones. 

As the gun has taken the back seat, slogans, street protests and hurling stones are the order of the day. It is easy to attribute this street resistance to acts of ‘miscreants’ or ‘anti-social elements’, but ignoring the underlying factors constitutes a grave folly. It would be wiser to acknowledge that in an environment of political and economic suffocation, this street resistance means psychological catharsis. There is a clear action and reaction pattern involved.

In the autumn of 2009, security agencies in Kashmir sought to pick up boys who were engaged in street resistance. Over 400 youth were picked up during one single night in Srinagar and other towns. After the arrest, the charges being slapped on the arrested youth ranged from ‘attempted murder’ to ‘waging war against the state’. Public Safety Act came in handy. But did this crackdown result in silencing Kashmir’s streets? And what was done to address the issues that triggered this rage in the first place?

From conventional law and order and security points of view, a state crackdown is a natural reaction. But have the last six decades of this street rage management through a security approach worked in Kashmir? Has it silenced the streets? Has it won the Kashmiri heart and mind?  Once in jail, another generation of political prisoners who had chosen peaceful means of expressing their political dissent takes birth. And what is the outcome? ‘Reformed’ youth after release, or a new brand of radicalized political activists with no faith in peaceful means of resistance? 

Understanding the psychology of those who are detained and tortured is critical. These youngsters engage in means of peaceful resistance – sometimes even stone pelting – because the soldier on the street to them represents a political and military occupation. Undignified treatment to an angry young man during detention hurts his self respect. A slap or a punch on his face creates a deeper disillusionment in his mind. It reinforces his belief that no political system would work for him except the one of Azadi. It even rekindles emotions of revenge. Most importantly, it radicalizes his thoughts and visions of resistance. Suppression often leads to greater disquiet. And then angry young men don’t remain averse to violence.

India’s Home Minister, P Chidambaram in 2009 exhorted the Omar Abdullah government to seek a political course rather than a law and order one to manage the street anger in Kashmir. Such a statement from someone in India’s establishment signaled a welcome understanding and appreciation of Kashmir’s ground realities.

Kashmir has witnessed generations of its youth, espousing secular nationalist ideals for achieving Kashmir’s political goals, eventually embracing a radical religious worldview. Failure of secular, peaceful and democratic means in achieving political goals often leads to an embrace of a religious political ideology. And then the consequences prove disastrous. It is time to break away from the law-and-order approach in dealing with the Kashmiri youth anger. The new approach has to be political, and humane. There is no other short cut.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary

D Suba Chandran
Across the Durand Line: Who is in Control Now? Will That Change?
Taliban Talks and the Four Horsemen: Between Peace and Apocalypse
Pakistan: Talks about Talks with the Taliban, Again
Dateline Islamabad

Salma Malik
Pakistan and TTP: Dialogue or Military Action?
The Musharraf Trial & Beyond

Dateline Kabul

Mariam Safi
Afghanistan, US and the Peace Process: A Deal with the Taliban in 2014?
Dhaka Discourse

Prof Delwar Hossain
Bangladesh: Domestic Politics and External Actors
Bangladesh Post Elections 2014: Redefining Domestic Politics?

Eagle Eye

Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
US in Asia: A 'Non-Alignment' Strategy?
Indo-US Strategic Partnership Post Khobragade: The Long Shadow
East Asia Compass

Dr Sandip Mishra
North Korean Peace Gestures and Inter-Korea Relations
Japan: Implications of Indiscriminate Assertiveness
China, Japan, Korea and the US: Region at Crossroads

Himalayan Frontier

Pramod Jaiswal
Chinese Inroads to Nepal
Constituent Assembly-II: Rifts Emerging
Nepal: The Crisis over Proportional Representation and the RPP Divide
Maritime Matters

Vijay Sakhuja
Increasing Maritime Competition: IORA, IONS, Milan and the Indian Ocean Networks
China in the Indian Ocean: Deep Sea Forays
Iran Navy: Developing Long Sea Legs

Middle Kingdom

DS Rajan
China in the Indian Ocean: Competing Priorities
China-Japan Friction: How can India Respond?
Nuke Street

Amb Sheelkant Sharma
Nuclear Security Summit 2014 and the NTI Index
Nuclear Power: An Annual Report Card

Red Affairs

Bibhu Prasad
Maoists in the Northeast: Reality and Myth-Making
Surrender of Gudsa Usendi: Ominous beginning for the Naxals?
South Asian Dialectic

PR Chari
Federalism: Centre as Coordinator and Adjudicator
Limits of Federalism

Spotlight West Asia

Amb Ranjit Gupta
Saudi Arabia-US Estrangement: Implications for the Indian Subcontinent
Syria Today: Is Regime Change the Answer?
The Arab World: Trying Times Ahead
Strategic Space

Manpreet Sethi
US, China and the South Asian Nuclear Construct
Responding to Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: A Strategy for India

The Strategist

Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Strategic Non-Nuclear Weapons: An Essential Consort to a Doctrine of No First Use
 

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 
Related Articles
Saswati Debnath,
"J&K Panchayat Polls: Three Ideas," 10 May 2011
Ashok Bhan,
"Challenge for Leaders in J&K: Restore Shrinking Political Space," 1 October 2010
D Suba Chandran,
"Kashmir: Search for a Consensus and the Elusive Starting Point," 6 September 2010
Firdaus Ahmed,
"India’s COIN Policy: ‘Peace Preceding Talks’?," 19 August 2010
Ali Ahmed,
"J&K: Implement the Working Group Recommendations," 17 August 2010
Zafar Choudhary,
"Kashmir: the Youth is Coming, the Youth is Coming," 11 August 2010
Firdaus Ahmed,
"Jammu and Kashmir: Need for a Political Solution," 20 July 2010
Mehraj Hajni,
"From the Elders to the Youth: Transition of Separatist Politics in Kashmir," 9 July 2010
D Suba Chandran,
"Violence in Kashmir: Is the Conflict Transforming from Militancy to Civilian Unrest?," 5 July 2010
Dr. Ashok Bhan,
"Violence in Kashmir: Elected Government is the Best Option," 5 July 2010

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Manmohan's JK Visit Fails Expectations

What Would be Acceptable in Jammu and Kashmir?: A Kashmiri Perspective

LoC as International Border - I: A Kashmiri Perspective

September 11 and Kashmir: Kashmiri Perspective

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2014
 January  February  March  April
 2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006
 2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999  1998
 1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map | IPCS Email
B 7/3 Lower Ground Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029, INDIA.
Tel: 91-11-4100 1900, 4165 2556, 4165 2557, 4165 2558, 4165 2559 Fax: (91-11) 41652560
Email:
© Copyright 2014, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
        Web Design by http://www.indiainternets.com