‘Kashmir violence: Real task is to reach out to disenchanted youth’

Kolkata, July 30 (IANS) Simply repressing waves of unrest in Kashmir since the July 8 killing of militant commander Burhan Wani is “not going to produce the results” India wants, says a political science expert, stressing the central government has to reach out to the youth in the Valley and give them a sense of belonging.

“One understands the frustrations of the soldiers particularly the BSF and CRPF who are deployed there and who are at the receiving end of the stone-pelters. But politicians in New Delhi have to realise that merely demonstrating a firm hand is simply going to defer the problem to another day,” Sumit Ganguly, Director, Centre on American and Global Security at Indiana University, told IANS here.

“You may be able to bring about a certain amount of stability in the next few weeks but all you will need is another incident to spark a third set of Burhan Wanis and demonstrations,” he said.

Expanding on a more long-term solution, Ganguly defined the “real task” as reaching out to the youth given the sense of disenchantment that is generated as a result of living under a long period of highly militarised environment.

Ganguly also pointed out the state and the central governments’ failure to address the issue.

“For example, in 2010, a child was crossing the street and there was a demonstration and the CRPF fired a tear gas canister and it hit the poor kid in the head killing the child. Immediately you saw the same kind of violence that we are witnessing today.

“The real task is to reach out to these Kashmiri youths and give them a sense of belonging. I think the insurgency was quite skilfully defeated by the Indian military. But the sense of disenchantment and sense of disaffection of living under a long period of highly militarised environment really hasn’t been addressed by any government whether central or local.”

Opining that the latest outburst is not Pakistan-sponsored, Ganguly who holds the Rabindranath Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilisations at the varsity, believes Burhan Wani’s killing triggered the expression of discontent among the Kashmiri youth.

“Pakistan is sponsoring terrorism in the Valley but the latest outburst is not sponsored… it is much more spontaneous. Burhan Wani had a certain following amongst Kashmiri youth many of whom have lived in a militarised zone because of the insurgency and there is a certain level of discontent that permeates the Valley which is now bursting forth because of this one catalytic event (the killing of Wani). I don’t think simply repressing this outburst of violence is going to produce the results that the government wants,” Ganguly added.

Ganguly is the co-editor of the book “Heading East: Security, Trade, and Environment between India and Southeast Asia” that was unveiled here as a follow up to ‘Building Pan-Asian Connectivity Conference’ which was held in the city last year.



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