Kashmiris fed up with violence: author

TEHRAN, Aug. 05 (MNA) – To touch upon recent developments in Kashmir and Pakistan, the Tehran Times has reached to David Devadas, a security analyst, to talk about the now and the future of the region.

Security situation in Indian controlled Kashmir continues to be volatile with the new wave of home-grown militancy, cross-border fighting between India and Pakistan, and collapse of the provincial government. The incidents of violence have increased over the past few years and the peace process between India and Pakistan has virtually been put on the backburner.

David Devadas, a New Delhi-based security and geopolitics analyst and author of `The Generation of Rage in Kashmir’, in an interview with Tehran Times speaks about the security conundrum in strife-torn Kashmir valley, the rise of new militancy, peace process between India and Pakistan and the collapse of BJP-PDP government in the state.

Devadas maintains that the young Kashmiris are fed up war. The counterinsurgency apparatus, he says, was experienced by people as humiliating, arbitrary and unwarranted, because of which a new generation, immune to fear, had come up.

Following are the excerpts:

The security situation in Kashmir has deteriorated over the past couple of years, especially in the aftermath of the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani in 2016. What reasons do you attribute to it? 

Burhan Wani was seen as a hero and exemplar among teenagers, head and shoulders above other militants. It would have been better to capture him alive. Killing him sparked the rage that had been building, and took it to a higher quantum level in south Kashmir.

Young people in Kashmir are fed up of war. They feel the government doesn’t care for their lives, and uses bullets and pellet guns while water cannons are used in other states.

An anti-beef campaign in a Hindu-dominated part of the state in 2015 caused a major backlash in the Kashmir Valley. The year before that, people felt that the government did not do enough for rescue and relief when floods ravaged Kashmir. That too caused huge resentment.

Your new book focuses on the rise of a new militancy in Kashmir and looks into the reasons why Kashmiri youth are leaning towards militancy again. Can you tell us more about it?

I have argued in my new book, `The Generation of Rage in Kashmir,’ that militancy in Kashmir ended during the peace process, around 2006-07, but the counterinsurgency apparatus was not wound down. People at large experienced it as humiliating, arbitrary and unwarranted.

Meanwhile, a new generation, immune to fear, had come up. Police excesses, such as experienced by Burhan Wani and so many others, including myself, were intolerable to this new generation.

Millennial years were shaped by narratives about the so-called war on terror, and Muslims under stress globally. Their minds were shaped by Ahle-Hadith, Tablighi Jamaat, Jamaat-e-Islami, and televangelists like Dr. Israr Ahmad and Zakir Naik.

Global powers that were distressed about former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s peace process also fanned the flames of a new unrest. The internet, especially social media, has been a major tool.

Do you believe security agencies have got any plan to deal with this new wave of militancy in Kashmir?

They seem to have knee-jerk reactions rather than any long-term vision or understanding. They throw money at the problem, and more troops. So, they have ended up pushing up the spiral of violence. Most of those in authority are stuck in the rut of the `90s, and only bother with getting through their two or three years in office.

What about some local militant groups that are considered offshoots of ISIS and Al Qaeda, like the group headed by Zakir Musa? Do you think ISIS is trying to gain foothold in Kashmir?

There have been photos of ISIS flags off and on over the past several years. I am not sure it has an organizational presence. Zakir Musa lies low, and has hardly any militants with him. But his ideas, of Islamic State, of a narrow-vision, exclusivist Islam, have gained a hold on many minds, mainly teenagers and pre-teens. This could play out in the years to come.

What led to the collapse of alliance between Kashmir-based People's Democratic Party and New Delhi-based Bharatiya Janata Party in Kashmir? Was it a marriage of inconvenience?

It was a marriage of opposites. They came up with an excellent Agenda of Alliance, which accommodated the PDP’s peace and reconciliation agenda, but it was never implemented. The two parties were pulling in different directions, and did not trust each other. Massive corruption made both parties very unpopular. It is amazing how popular Governor Vohra is by contrast.

The peace process between India and Pakistan has been derailed because of intermittent border skirmishes and blame games from both sides. What do you think is the trigger for these cross-border attacks?

Prime Minister Vajpayee’s efforts to make peace with Pakistan and the rest of south Asia, and to resolve outstanding issues, had given people in Kashmir great hope. After years of untiring effort by Mr. Vajpayee, the peace process got going in 2003, but it petered out in 2006-07.

We have been moving steadily towards confrontation since men from Pakistan attacked Mumbai in November 2008 — although most analysts have neglected this broad graph. Border shelling is terribly heavy.

Increasingly over a decade, we have actually been facing a Sino-Pak axis rather than two separate neighbors. Both would want to tighten control over the Gilgit region, through which CPEC passes.

Imran Khan in his victory speech reached out to India and said he will take two steps if India took one step on Kashmir. Do you see that as a positive development?

It is regrettable that the new leader of Pakistan named India as a neighbor after naming China, the US, and Saudi Arabia. Pakistan’s neighbors are India, Afghanistan and Iran. I wish our four countries’ leaders, and those of other SAARC countries, would see that we must live together, and build a common future, as neighbors, if not as brothers with ancient cultural ties.

Interview by: Syed Zafar Mehdi

MNA/TT

News Code 136425

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