Image courtesy of Greater Kashmir
There is no doubt Kashmir has come out of one of the darkest periods in its modern history. After the nullification of Article 370, Kashmir has started limping back to normalcy, democracy, peace, and rebuilding. Of course, the Intifada factory will not give up its stranglehold on antisocial and terror activities but hats off to the civil administration, the medical frontline doctors, the health care professionals, and the J&K Police who took over the vacuum and developed a semblance of routine, administration, law and order and also health guidelines.
The global pandemic of COVID-19 coincided with the nullification and what was seen as a blanket ban on communications to save lives was projected by the intifada factory as equivalent to concentration camps, human rights violations, and fascism. For information, the Intifada factory comprises of:
All these players, in collaboration with the global anti-India, anti-Hindu network paint a picture of the two-nation theory being implemented in Kashmir with the narrative that Kashmiri Pandits were not compatible with the Muslims and were responsible for the perceived marginalization of Kashmiri Muslims. The Hindu "bania" Endians is the term used for the majority Indians by the Intifada factory, which they have percolated down to the lowest common denomination through WhatsApp, videos, and other social media portals and channels.
The generations of Kashmiris before the conflict grew up in the era of Pakistani fascination, the Afghan-Soviet war, the exporting of Salafi Islam through Saudi petrodollars via mushrooming seminaries, the Palestine-Israel conflict and hence developed a victim mentality, feeling besieged by the forces of liberalism, change, democracy, reform, multiculturalism. Their progeny who grew up in the three decades of the "tehreek" developed this sense of Olympics of Oppression - a term for Muslims constantly bringing up historic wounds like the Jammu Massacre, Babri Masjid demolition, Gujarat Riots, etc especially with the rising anti-Muslim bigotry after 9/11 and 26/11, which is enveloped in the misnomer Islamophobia.
The thing is, we Kashmiris were taken for a ride, right from the 70s and 80s by the elite dynasty politicians looting us alongside the secessionist elements (I call them the progeny of the Mirpuris left behind) building a case of the unfinished business of Partition while filling their coffers and settling their own progeny all across the globe away from the terror activities on the ground. These NRKs (non-resident Kashmiris) took over academic campuses in India and abroad, hijacking portals and platforms to build a narrative of India oppressing Kashmiris. Since the global media system was left-leaning till recent years, all the major media outlets bought this drivel and wrote op-eds, lecturing India on its human rights track record.
Now there is hope that indigenous Kashmiri Muslims and other minorities get to say their other side of the story too - how India has never invaded any country, that it has given refuge to persecuted people since ancient times and continues to do so till modern times - Zoroastrians, Jews, Tibetans, Afghanis, Balochis, Sindhis, Rohingyas, the Kashmiri Pandits (refugees in their own country) and the Indian nationalist Kashmiri Muslims who are ideological refugees because of their secular and agnostic stance.
India has always been a secular country in the sense of protecting the rights of all people of faith and even upholding the rights of people who do not believe in organized religion. Yes, it has fault-lines of casteism, gender disparity, communal hatred, still reeling from the horrors and trauma of the Partition. But instead of coming together to mend these fault-lines, certain collaborators tie-up with foreign powers to exploit these fault-lines as the recent anti-CAA protests, the Delhi riots, and the ongoing farmer protests proved.
In the Naya Kashmir vision or plan, it is good to see the youth being engaged in sports, talent shows, and various district activities. But what is also needed is for critical thinking to be developed amidst the young adults, as this is the age they are vulnerable to radical ideology and extremist views. The past three decades of conflict have rendered many families dysfunctional and juvenile delinquency is rampant. Newspaper reports show high levels of drug addiction and a rise in local crime. It is these 'lost' souls who get attracted to a life of a terrorist romanticized by the stories of Omar Mukhtar, Burhan Wani, and the glamour of a Robin Hood-style, vagabond life in the forests of Kupwar and across the LoC.
There has to be a three-pronged strategy to, first of all, enrol the juveniles, engage them in activities and make them feel rooted in their Indic civilization which dates to Neolithic times. But the most important thing is to place critical thinking academicians across schools, colleges, and universities who can counter the drivel passed off as theology by Salafi preachers in seminaries or on the streets and shop fronts. There are many rational religious figures who could become icons for the youth such as Javed Ghamidi, Hasan Nisar, Pervez Hoodbhoy from Pakistan only since the Pakistan fascination is there. Then there are other revolutionary ones such as Maajid Nawaz, British-Pakistani terror recruiter for the Hizbut-Tahrir turned activist and radio host, Dr. Amina Wadud, theologian, Mustafa Aykol, writer, a columnist from Turkey, and scores of other rational thinkers and preachers.
We have a proud history of rationalist thought in the Mutazilite Movement (reason over text). It is time the Kashmiri youth were introduced to it.