Tuesday, July 17, 2018 | 8:29 AM

Resilience of Kashmiris deserve salutations: Anuradha Bhasin

Sunday, August 20, 2017

'This rebellion is fuelled by abuse and a sense of insecurity but it essentially stems from unheeded political aspirations'
The resilience of the people in Kashmir and their constant struggles for years deserve salutations, said Executive Editor Kashmir Times Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal.

Bhasin said this while addressing Pandit Raghunath Vaishnavi Annual Lecture, which was organized a human rights group, Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society. This year’s lecture was themed “Many Shades of Kashmir Resistance: Reflections on Emerging Trends in the Political Theatre and the Agency of Peoples’ Struggles”.

“There are many shades and forms of resistance in Kashmir,” Bhasin said, adding that the space for peaceful resistance in Kashmir has shrunk, forcing youth to pick up guns.

According to Bhasin, before last year’s uprising, Kashmir was already a simmering volcano beneath the occasional calm, waiting to erupt.

“Burhan Wani’s death in 2016 provided that tipping point that many of us had been dreading for more than a decade. The 2016 unrest, many call it uprising, was different from the agitations of previous years which were built around the narratives of oppression and call for justice. This was an open rebellion that reflected not just pent up anger but also the desperation of the situation,” Bhasin said.

She said it is difficult to understand and describe the phenomenon that unfolded in 2016 and continues still. “But not difficult to understand why it happened.”

“Burhan Wani was seen by youth as both a symbol of oppression and defiance against it. Since then the situation of desperation has only deepened with young boys, sometimes also girls, ready to fight the mighty and powerfully equipped forces of the state with bare hands or stone. Some pick up the gun,” Bhasin said.

She said, “There is no dearth of passion driving youth towards militancy but there is dearth of funding and availability of arms. And this increases their vulnerability. They know they are no match for the powerful state but still are ready to die and die too easily.” 

 “What further acted as a catalyst was the rise of the Hindu fascist powers in New Delhi, their ideology of communalism and politics of beef and love Jehad (term coined by Hindu extremist organizations against Muslims), the invocation of Article 370, the shockingly shabby response of New Delhi to Kashmir’s devastating floods of 2014, the historic but blundered formation of PDP-BJP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir, pushing Kashmiri Muslims to the wall,” she said.

She said last year the talk of separate cluster cities for Kashmiri Pandits and Sainik Colonies has further enhanced that feeling of mistrust.

“This rebellion is fuelled by abuse and a sense of insecurity but it essentially stems from unheeded political aspirations. This year, the discourse on challenging Article 370 and Article 35 (A) is providing a similar setting,” she said.

Bhasin said there is no space for peaceful resistance which has been targeted in various ways.

"All forms of protests and resistance are not violent in nature. Peaceful sit-ins and marches are being organised by civil society groups," she said.

Bhasin said that resistance can be articulated in more creative ways. “Art forms are known to be the best and most powerful tools of resistance. In any resistance struggle, poets, writers, thinkers, philosophers and fiction writers have known to inspire movements and struggles,” Bhasin said. 

She said in Kashmir “we are dealing with an exceptional situation, a state that is becoming more and more totalitarian and shedding even the pretence of democracy.”

She said: “Strategies need to be picked up carefully and thoughtfully, ones that are beneficial for sustenance of society as well as resistance in the long term. But peaceful resistances pave way for knowledge, enquiry and vision.”