Home Contact Us  

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
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

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


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
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

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  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
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.