Violence in India-held Kashmir has taken the shape of a recurring nightmare, with no sign of an early end to the repression.
On Thursday, at least six people were killed in the held region, while yesterday a strike was observed to protest the killings. Most of those killed in the recent spate of violence were Kashmiris targeted by Indian security forces.
Tensions are running high in the region due to the fact that the occupied territory’s coalition government was replaced with governor rule — direct rule from New Delhi — in June while the BJP-led central government plans to hold local polls next month.
However, it is clear that Delhi’s heavy-handed tactics are not going down well with the Kashmiri people, and that democracy can hardly flourish in such suffocating circumstances.
There have been widespread and frequent protests whenever India’s armed enforcers have killed Kashmiri fighters; the fighters’ funerals often become rallying points for the Kashmiri people fed up with Indian atrocities.
Anti-India feelings in Kashmir have been particularly galvanised after troops killed Burhan Wani, a young Kashmiri fighter, in 2016. Inspired by Wani, many other young Kashmiris are opting for armed struggle to resist Indian rule. Also, in many instances protesters have raised the Pakistani flag as a sign of defiance before Delhi’s security forces.
This mood of defiance in Kashmir has been defined well in a recent piece published in this paper by veteran Kashmiri leader and freedom fighter Yasin Malik. In it, Mr Malik points out why Kashmiris are disillusioned with India, and why many young, educated residents of the region are opting to pick up the gun to resist New Delhi.
He has described the governor as a ‘colonial sheriff’ and highlighted the fact that the BJP is trying to change Kashmir’s demography, as well as mulling a communal division of the region.
Yasin Malik also mentions that there is an uncanny similarity in the reasons why his generation took up arms against India in 1988, and the factors pushing today’s Kashmiri youth to fight India.
It is also true that many parties in the occupied region, including Delhi’s loyalists, oppose local elections in the current repressive atmosphere. Unfortunately, few within the Indian establishment are willing to listen to sane voices and would rather smother Kashmiri voices.
This approach is bound to fail, as it has for the past three decades, with the level of anger continuing to rise in IHK.