The youth who defy curfew, pelt stones and fight pitched battles with security forces in the Valley are veritable family drop-outs. Their parents have no control over them. They might follow the Hurriyat’s ‘calendar’ of protests. But they aren’t exactly at the separatists’ beck and call.
Be they teenagers, sophomores or university alumnus, the mood is defiant; the anger so palpable that one can slice it with a butter-knife. “I’m unable to convince my son; this generation isn’t in our control,” bemoaned a Kashmir University professor. “What you see is a mass movement driven by boys as young as 12 to 16….They hold the trigger.”
On August 16, a boy was killed in police action at Batamaloo. Next day, a group of fifty assembled at the same spot to take on the forces, recalled another teacher. “Their generation only saw violence. They don’t dream of building careers. They’re ready to die,” he said.
Ascendant pro-Pakistan sentiments in the Valley are confirmed by local journalists. The contributory factors are many: incidence of intolerance in India; lack of trust in the PDP-BJP coalition; absence of political dialogue on Kashmir and security crackdown on protests after Buran Wani’s encounter killing.
But how serious is the demand for Azadi? On the face of it, pretty much! The voices one heard on streets, at hospitals and in assemblies of traders, teachers and lawyers could be paraphrased to read: You’re mistaken if you think you can tire us out; we’ve enough rations for six months; we’d fight till the end; won’t let the cause for which so many of our brothers died go waste.
“Muslim Kashmir is reluctant to continue its relations with an India perceived as Hindu India. That’s a harsh reality,” admitted a local legislator. So the problem that needs prompt negation is the valley people’s psychological secession from mainland India!