As Kashmiris, We Are Seen With Suspense & Doubt Across The Country
“It doesn’t make any sense to blame Kashmiris for an attack they had nothing to do with.”
The Kashmir issue has always been a sensitive one. The Pulwama attack of 14 February saw condemnation from all across the nation and the globe. There was rage in the hearts of the people of India who asked for strong retaliation. Some demanded war, others a surgical strike. Some had a more rational demand i.e. sanctions on Pakistan, which would have lasting effects on the country, rather than a war that would invariably hurt India and its military.
Asking for strict action against Pakistan is fair enough because of the loss that India has suffered. However, there has been specific change in the nature of protests, by which I mean protests have become communal.
There have been some incidents in which mobs attacked Kashmiri students, traders and even vendors. These mobs have demanded expulsion of students from colleges and universities.
It all started with social media outrage that broke out after the attack. At first, the attacks were aimed at Pakistan, then a certain community, and finally, the Kashmiris. It was thought that they are responsible for the attack, but the truth is that Kashmiri people, just like other Indian citizens, want to live a peaceful life.
Nobody likes killings and tension, and it doesn’t make any sense to blame an entire state for an attack it had nothing to do with. The students who are studying across India are now living under the threat that they may be attacked any time. They have been expelled, displaced and even beaten up in some places.
As a Kashmiri, I am all too familiar with the situation in the state. There has been radicalisation of the youth in the last four years, and people feel it is because of the failures of the state and the central governments, making the situation in Kashmir ever so tense.
Pellet injuries, civilian deaths, and regular encounters have worsened things. The number of militants has increased manifold. The state feels alienated from the rest of the nation, and the sad part is that the government of India has done nothing about the issue. The rest of the nation doesn’t fully understand the situation in Kashmir.
The Consequence of Targeted Attacks
Kashmiris all across India are seen with suspense and doubt. There is clear discrimination against us when it comes to renting rooms or houses. The aftermath of Pulwama attack has seen things go from bad to worse. Posts on social media against Kashmiris are full of hatred, going as far as to ask the Indian Army to eliminate Kashmiris. Social media outrage has become normal. There is tension between India and Pakistan, but why does Kashmir have to be sandwiched between the two?
Unfortunately, the bigotry of hate-mongers has received positive response from others. If any Kashmiri comments on social media, he is accused of being a terrorist. There is definite fear in the minds of the youth.
These attacks on Kashmiri students, traders and tourists will have serious consequences in the future. They will further alienate the state from the rest of the country and will see the youth drift towards militancy, thus, adding fuel to the already-burning state. People of India should welcome Kashmiri students and embrace them as their own, as that would help develop Jammu and Kashmir peacefully.
Agreed that the militancy needs to go down in the state, and the government needs to actively find solutions to it, but beyond this, people shouldn’t forget that the citizens of the Valley are a part of this nation as much as others. The attacks on Kashmiri students and traders need to stop immediately.
In times of tension, if people from the rest of India are empathetic to Kashmir, there would be immense change. More youth would turn to education and more would indulge in the peace process, instead of taking to guns, weapons, bombs and IEDs. The current situation prevailing in the Valley is full of aggression and worry. People whose families are living or studying outside Kashmir are worried even though they may be safe.
For example, my friends and I are living in Punjab safe and sound, and no one has hurled even one word of hate towards us. Yet, our parents are worried. They keep asking us to either come back or stay safe at one place.
Parents and families in Kashmir are tense. In Jammu, for example, the protest against Kashmiris and hate towards innocent citizens was alarming. These types of attacks are only going to divide India and that is what our external enemies want.
Kashmir needs support from the rest of the nation. The youth of the state need to feel involved, and the problem needs to be handled carefully and sensitively. The operations to eliminate militancy should involve empowerment, development and providing jobs, which would stop the youth from becoming militants. That way, they would feel like they are an integral part of India.
(The author wishes to stay anonymous)
All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint enquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)
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