In the week spanning from 29 August to 5 September, a total of eighty public meetings/rallies were held across all districts of Kashmir among which government forcibly disrupted 36 rallies, using extensive of force against the assembled people; shelling with bullets, tear gas shells and pellets. The government forces, in many instances, vandalized the venue of these pro-freedom rallies, set ablaze the tents and threw away the food items which were cooked by local organizers for the participants of the rallies. The rest of the rallies went on peacefully. This clearly shows that the 44 protest programs/rallies which were organized in the last week remained completely peaceful and no stone pelting was witnessed in these rallies, while as the 36 rallies where Indian forces used violence to vandalize the already set up venues and desist the participants from attending the programs, has resulted in clashes in which around 1215+ people have been injured.
“I will protest in summer in Kashmir” has become a cliche. This summer too has Azaadi written all over it. Everything seems to utter Azaadi. Every sound rhymes with Azaadi. Maa ki mamtaa. Behno ki ismat. Water flowing steadily in a nearby river. Tyres of vehicles hitting the newly macadamised road hard. Ticking of the clock at night. Chirping of birds every morning. Fan rotating at full speed as if spinning the yarn of freedom. Small children playing games of Azaadi, aping adults and inculcating resistance.
In the present day world-order and given the historical perspective, can Independent Kashmir [IK] exist? Moreover, regarding the small area and population of the region, will it be practical? Given the poor educational status, the IK could be a breeding ground for ‘Islamic Jihadist’. And the much talked about issues are: security, land locked region, economic dependency and many more which are often raised. The most obvious question to be followed should be: Is an Independent Kashmir practical and a viable solution? Let’s examine it through various dimensions:
After the martyrdom of Commander Burhan Wani, the Indian state was in the mood of jubilation ‘to eliminate the most wanted terrorist’. But it soon turned into its nightmare. It was not the first time that the funeral of a rebel was attended by thousands but the immediate response across Kashmir through demonstrations and funerals in absentia made the civil and military establishment of Indian State frustrated. The immediate response that it resorted to was putting the whole valley under seize by imposing curfew and clamping down of internet services.
Since the extra-judicial execution of Commander Burhan Wani and two other members of Hizbul Mujahideen, Indian armed forces and Jammu and Kashmir Police have used excessive force to thwart the mourners from protesting and participating in the funeral processions of the slain militants. So far, around 17 civilians have been killed in Islamabad, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama districts, while as more than 350 people have been injured from across all districts of the Kashmir valley. There are reports that CRPF and Police have been involved in the destruction of movable and immovable properties. Curfew has been strictly imposed in all districts of Kashmir, but people are defying the curfew at various places.
Generations of Kashmiris have already answered the rhetorical question, “Hum kya chahte?” (What do we want?) with “Azadi”—freedom from India. If there is to be any possibility of reconciliation, it cannot be answered with another question: “What about Kashmiri Pandits?” This latter question can be—should be—part of the answer to another question, “Azadi ka matlab kya?” (What does azadi entail?) But for that to happen, the first question must be heard, and answered.
How does one write about a 20-year old, known to you intimately, who decides to shun what is conventionally called a normal life to disappear into the woods and fight for a cause that demands nothing but life?