Srinagar, April 16: After a mob attacked an army camp at Nut Nusa, the series of events that followed in the next four days killed five people. 60 people in total, which included 40 security personnel, were injured in clashes that have shaken the whole of the valley.
TOI met some agitated teens. “The boys got killed here. Why is India killing us? Why do you never tell our side of the story? We are being brutalised and murdered by police and Army. But neither the media nor the government cares, “the teens shouted in unison as this reporter stopped by to speak to them. “We want India to withdraw the Army from Kashmir. We want them to remove all the the bunkers from the Valley, “they screamed.
According to a report in Economic Times, A senior police officer after the condition of anonymity has explained why the youth in Kashmir comes out on streets with such ease. According to the report, 70 percent of 12 million population of Jammu & Kashmir, according to the data, is under the age of 31. The youth percentage has not worked as the economy driver in the state and instead, atleast in the valley, has been actively engaging in unlawful activities.
As quoted in Economic Times, “When a Kashmiri is killed in police or Army action, it naturally evokes violent outrage among youth more than any other age group,” a senior civil administration officer said.
“The mobs come to the streets spontaneously .They don’t need any organised handlers or agents to vent their anger. They’re out on their own. They don’t listen to parents or elders. Even the separatists don’t have any control over them,” the officer added.
The report further says, “In Kashmiri society, there are about 30,000 released militants who’ve either completed their prison time or are out on bail. And they have both the ideological conviction and the ability to mobilise youth into violence. They do radicalise youth and propagate anti-state views among them. But what happens in situations like Handwara is spontaneous,” a police officer, not wanting to be named, said.
A huge problem that adds to the crisis is the massive unemployment of the huge percentage of this youth. In a 2011 report, a US based development agency, Mercy Corps, found 48% of youth in Kashmir were unemployed.
Several police officers who engage with Kashmiri youth said most of them belong to extremely poor sections of society and will very unlikely get assimilated through employment.
Unless a long term plan to productively engage unemployed youth, incidents such as Kupwara will remain a problem. Also, unemployment leaves no real space for the engagement and as such getting attracted towards the miscreants becomes all the more easier for the youth.
Kashmir lacks places and sources of healthy entertainment. Sports like football and cricket have lost their sheen over the decades. Policing cannot be an answer many experts have time and again opined that.