The Centre Should Talk to Us About Our Problems: Kashmiri Youth

The Quint reached Baramulla to ask its youth what impacts them as a Kashmiri voter and what are their issues?

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We usually hear about Baramulla when the stories of encounters between militants and the army occupy the national news headlines. In the light of the upcoming elections, The Quint decided to reach this side of the valley to ask its youth what impacts them as a Kashmiri voter and what are their issues?

“The international media looks at the elections in a way that the voters here vote to solve their problems. Some have problems with water, electricity. The national media looks at this as if they are voting for India. They have their own issues that’s why they vote.”
Aamir Chisti, Student

After all, what is it that worries and upsets the youth of Baramulla? When we asked this question, the students said its the political system that disillusions them.

“I think the problem lies in the political system. It suffocates us. It creates a sense of suffocation in us. It creates a sense of frustration in us, and that frustration alienates us from the main political system. So that system needs to change, and it should embrace us. The system needs to come to us and ask ‘what do you want?’”
Talib Zafar, Student

The attacks on Kashmiris also made headlines. In the aftermath of the Pulwama attacks, reports of many Kashmiri students being beaten up in various parts of the country rocked the national media. A Kashmiri trader was also beaten in UP.

Incidents like these are the reason why many Kashmiri youths find a deep trust deficit between the government and them.

“There should be more opportunities. I think there should be reservations. I am not necessarily in favour of reservations but I think there should be some sort of compensation for all that has happened in Kashmir. Students should come out and prosper in the fields that they desire, instead of just sitting back at home. Unemployment rate in Kashmir is at an all-time high.”
Ubaid Zargar

A common complaint that political leaders are not concerned about the youth of Kashmir echoes through the valley. They also said that the regional leaders don’t do anything for development.

Some also said that all this is happening in Kashmir because the Kashmiri leadership doesn’t get enough support from the Centre. Things might be better, the youth of Baramulla said, if people from other parts of the country also start to try and understand the problems of Kashmir.

“I think the Centre should be concerned about why we are not voting. The Centre needs to address this. Our frustration isn’t so much with the Centre than it is with the state government. But every five years, it’s the same issue which is turned into a political propaganda.”
Arif, Student

The youth of Baramulla neither trust the politicians, nor the elections. Apart from this, the country-wide escalation of attacks on Kashmiris, a declining education level, and increasing unemployment are the issues that bother the young men and women of Kashmir.

The question however is, are the politicians at the Centre listening?

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