Teens, or let us actually call them children in the Valley, experience a form of triumph everytime a bulletproof van swooshes past these boys dodging the sticks and bricks. Sometimes, girls and women join the teams positioned at different locations too. They think it is a war for ‘azadi’ they are winning.
It is not the “Naya Kashmir” that Sher-i-Kashmir spoke of. This is the Kashmir of about 60 days controlled by young to boys barely in their teens. Teens, who may have been led to believe that stones and sticks will deliver azadi. An azadi from what does not matter.
Today’s young blood in Kashmir believes, that the predecessors from 2010 or those who were part of the insurgency that began in 1990 have betrayed the cause of azadi. Today’s young think that they can bring the change their predecessors failed to bring and make a Kashmir that suits their indoctrinated dreams. A Kashmir that is different from what they inherited, far from conflict.
The separatists are set to lose all relevance if they retreat one bit. The older protesters from 2010 are aware that the separatist leadership is immune to losses borne during any Kashmiri unrest. The separatists understand that their new-founded significance during this almost two month long unrest will not sustain if they back-out as they have done in the past.
The issue of Kashmir was never a law and order problem but the blockades, young boys targeting civilian and military vehicles, smashing anything or anyone not from Kashmir is definitely a law and order problem.
The separatists did not engage with the all party delegation to play safe. It does show an act of defiance but without dialogue even the separatists will never be able to table their demands. The Kashmir of today requires pragmatism and innovation, not obsolete clichés.
In the history of the last 30 years, Kashmir graduated from protests for basic amenities to what is even today widely claimed as rigged elections, from insurgency to militancy and finally becoming the centrestage of civil resistance.
Delhi assumed during this graduation period time would become the healer and if not time, atleast fatigue may set things in order.
The protesters know in their hearts that the Kashmiri bureaucracy will not assert itself and bring to law the troublemakers. The Center has made statements threatening stern action against anti-national elements, but how many warrants have even been sent out? The young in Kashmir do not have to thank the separatist leadership for this. The separatist leadership has existed in the past and even this time they have been put on the pedestal simply to see things through. It is a safe assumption to think that the separatists have some experience to be able to engage in a dialogue process.
Any eight-year-old does not know why a Geelani is important. These young are cheered for their azadi slogans and stone throwing abilities, much like in a school debate competition or a cricket match.
These young need to be in real school debates playing the school playgrounds for that is what will shape the future of Kashmir. Kashmiris know well that stone is used in the making of tombstones. This is also why separatists have steadily lost their sheen!