It’s already a summer of unrest in Kashmir. As young men and women continue to take to the streets protesting Indian security forces and J&K police, data services and social media applications have been shut down. The violence and unrest that was set off after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in July 2016 continues. For Kashmiris, this is a familiar saga. This week on Off Centre, Anuradha SenGupta talks to writer and journalist Basharat Peer who shares what the average Kashmiri’s point of view is.
On the psyche of ordinary Kashmiri, Basharat said, “For me the problem is if today, after 70 years one has to sit down and explain what a massive population that has largely been in news for the last 25 years is thinking or what is the political position it is taking, then you really have a serious problem. Is it a denial? Are we pretending? All the people talking to the government or talking in the government say there is a phrase ‘critical time’ or ‘historic juncture’ or ‘are we losing Kashmir’. You know I don’t see it as something new”.
Giving his views on development being the solution in Kashmir, he said that he doesn’t see the tunnel as a symbol of development, rather he sees it as a way of fortifying control. He added, “Roads are not just built to allow people to move, roads are also made to ensure that your military moves in faster. So, the politics of development is a complicated politics. We know what roads mean, roads allow vehicles, all kinds of vehicles to move and there is politics behind development in roads. No, I don’t think that those things are the most important things, this is a political question. I know it’s uncomfortable for Indians, you don’t want to deal with this, you want to be in denial or avoided or want to just assume that look we have enough military strength to hold on to the space and we are under no political pressure of any kind”
Talking about the need to talk, Basharat said that he doesn’t expect anything to get better. He added that though he is cynical about it, yet he thinks that rather than just having kids shot on the street, it would be better to have some old men talk amongst each other without achieving anything as it might create a mood in which lesser people are killed. He asked, “Who do you expect to turn things better? People who have the power to tell a soldier to shoot or not shoot or to control things are not in the mood to talk about love and peace”.
Catch the full conversation this Saturday at 8:00 PM with repeats on Sunday at 12:30 PM and 9:30 PM, only on CNN-News18
You can watch the promo here: