Mudasir Dar For The Kashmir Connect
Post the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, Kashmir has changed a lot. The situation seems better. People have evolved themselves to a new mindset of development, of social justice and employment. They are shunning violence. They are working for peace building to bring back Kashmir’s lost glory of peace and harmony. People have started paving the way for peace and dialogue.
Yet, the entire population can’t be painted with the same brush. There is still a popular sentiment that is in the mindset of alienation. These sections of the local population give space to the anti-social elements to get succeed in their mission.
So the situation all around can’t be considered hunky-dory.
People at the helm of affairs have dealt brilliantly with the harshest circumstances looming in Kashmir. Still, a lot more has to be done to ensure a peaceful, violence-free society.
The responsibility of peace development lies on the shoulders of every citizen. The contribution of the youth is much more important than any other section of the society. It is the youth who hold the flag of peace and prosperity for the coming generations. This is what a sizable number of youth are doing during the present times in Kashmir.
The Youth Are The Future
For every nation, the future lies in its young population. They are the ones who shape the future and the attitude of a nation. If you impress their minds with vibrant policies, the other challenges can be taken head-on.
In order to win the hearts and minds of people, the policymakers must understand that being mindful of public opinion is important. The best option to engage with people is to find out the problems they face vis-à-vis the local government, and resolve those problems.
When we avoid engagement with the common masses, we are actually reducing the space for peace and harmony. Problems fester when a void is created between the administration and common masses. There have been many unsuccessful talks in the past, with no concrete solutions. The Administration must put in sincere efforts and must interact regularly with those at the grassroots level who are working tirelessly for peace building.
ROADMAP FOR THE GOALS THAT WE SEEK
* Organized Schedule For Weekly Public Outreach Programs
To create a favourable environment for the local masses, weekly public outreach programs in every village of Kashmir are the need of the hour. Addressing public demands in a time-bound manner and reducing the gap of bureaucracy with the public will help in rebuilding the faith of the people in the administration.
* Engage The Youth At Block, District Levels, Listen To Their Voices
The administration has been successful in this all to a large extent, and still a lot more has to be done. Listening to young voices is important. Keeping them out of the dialogue will widen the already existing gap between the youth and state administration.
To take the youth in confidence, the Administration must organize events to engage the youth at block and district levels. The youth must be given the right platforms to communicate, to speak of what’s on their mind. This shall also help the Administration in appropriate policy formulation to address the youth. It shall also help in dealing with the alarming drug menace in Kashmir.
* State Must Help In Developing Stronger Networks, Bond With Fellow Indians
People in the valley have been complaining about the selective approach of the fellow Indians towards them in other parts of the nation. Many incidents in past have created mistrust between Kashmiris and our fellow Indians. Tarnishing all the Kashmiris with the same brush is not wise. It goes against our fundamental rights as Indian citizens. This also jeopardizes the rule of law.
We should have stronger networks with our fellow Indians, a stronger feeling of brotherhood. The shared love with the people shall heal the burns of trauma and conflict that we have received for three decades.
* State Must Ensure That There Is No Identity Discrimination
There should be no discrimination on the basis of region or identity. This is guaranteed to all citizens by the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of our nation. At times, identity discrimination has led us to confrontations with our fellow Indians. Sometimes, the situation has also turned ugly.
Our young generation of students, professionals and businessmen who study or work in different parts of India are at times victimized by some anti-social elements. There are reports of their being beaten or ill-treated at times.
Those who victimize Kashmiris are unaware of the delicate relationship between Delhi and Kashmir. I see the same playing out at Aligarh Muslim University these days. At times, students can make mistakes. But the adverse treatment that follows towards them is not justifiable. It should be avoided.
The Kashmiris who have gone to other parts of their country to study or work are young and brilliant minds who have shunned the path of militancy. They have join academics for a better future, they have started their business, or they have chosen to be professionals. They must be given equal opportunity to shine and work in a fair environment.
* Ensure Swift Mechanism Of Justice
A swift mechanism of delivering justice to victims of violence, terrorism and from day to day social injustice needs to be encouraged. When people get justice, it heals their wounds and ends the gap between the system and people. Our system has been eloquent. It must continue to deliver justice to the people at the right time. There is no space for injustice in the world’s largest democracy. Our judicial system is among the finest in the world. Justice delivered always wins minds and hearts, and the same for us in Kashmir.
* Organize Counselling Sessions For Radicalized Youth
The approach of dealing with the youth of Kashmir needs a swift change. Those who take the extreme path of self-destruction by taking the path of terrorism or narco terror must be dealt with as per law.
At the same time, counselling sessions must be organized for the boys who are on the brink of taking the path of terror. Kind and sincere efforts can take us to the heights of peace and stability that we seek.
* Provide Handholding For Youth Weaned Away From Wrong Path
The Administration can examine whether it can offer some kind of career or vocational training hand-holding to the youth who have been deterred from choosing the wrong path. This shall encourage and give faith to many others of the benevolence of the system. Constructive engagement with the youth must be encouraged, since they shape tomorrow’s opinions and attitudes.
* Security Forces Must Ensure Minimum Damage To Houses Occupied Forcibly By Militants
The Kashmir conflict has consumed millions of lives, and property worth billions in the past few decades. This trend of destruction and loss continues even today. Many times, militants forcibly take refuge in the houses of Kashmiris. These houses are immediately razed by security forces. Herein, a positive change is visible. While neutralizing militants, security forces ensure minimum collateral damage of the houses which were occupied forcibly. These Kashmiris have already lost a dwelling place. They should not be dealt with like they are with the enemy.
* State Must Formulate Policies Which Win Hearts
The policymakers must formulate policies which address national goals, and also win the hearts of the people of Kashmir. It brings a sense of belonging to a vast majority of Kashmiris.
Our nation’s democratic traditions must be fiercely protected. People feel secure in a democratic atmosphere. Bureaucracy can never replace democracy (electoral politics). The democratic institutions need to be revitalized. Youth must be taken on board as change makers. The youth must be empowered towards electoral politics, which makes democracy shine. Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah spoke of these same ideals during his rally at Baramulla, when he referred to connecting with the youth.
The policymakers must formulate policies which address national goals, and also win the hearts of the people of Kashmir. It brings a sense of belonging to a vast majority of Kashmiris
Counselling sessions must be organized for the boys who are on the brink of taking the path of terror. Kind and sincere efforts can take us to the heights of peace and stability that we seek.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mr Mudasir Dar is a socio-political activist and the recipient of the Rashtrapati Award for World Scouting. He has worked for the de-radicalization of youth in South Kashmir. He tweets @DarMudasir10