Swaraj Peeth Trust Report on 2016 Kashmir uprising

News Kashmir Desk

New Delhi: The Swaraj Peeth Trust, a Gandhian Center for Nonviolence and Peace, New Delhi has released an 11 point report based on the ongoing Kashmir uprising. Rajiv Vora, chairman of the trust who frequently visits Kashmir since 2010 public agitation released the report after he concluded his recent tour to Kashmir. Besides stressing for a result-oriented dialogue process, the report has expressed dismay over the use of notorious pellet fires. The report termed the draconian laws like PSA & AFSPA as the catalyst for public rage and resentment. The report claimed that it wants to save the Kashmiri society from complete destruction. Pertinently, Swaraj Peeth Trust organized 3 day Youth Conference here on 1-3 April 2016 in which more than 30 youth from Jammu and Kashmir participated and held deliberations on Kashmir situation. Here are the excerpts of the report:

Statement on Kashmir Uprising 2016

The current wave of serious agitation in Kashmir has so far left 98 protesters dead, 15000 civilians injured, more than a hundred blinded, many more semi-blinded and 1000 security forces men injured in what is being envisaged as the gory phase in the current turmoil of Kashmir. The state administration and institutions of Law and Order have collapsed completely and total confusion is prevailing on ground. The paradigms of this agitation can be summed up as under and are necessary to point out if we want to save Kashmiri society from complete destruction.
1. Neglecting the 2010 civil agitation and its aftermath 
The 2010 civil agitation which killed 126 youngsters and wounded thousands was in a way subsided not by any positive effort but by coercion, resulting in increased radicalization and many youth joining armed insurgency. The report of the three member interlocutor team under late Dilip Padgoankar was not even debated in Parliament nor made public, suggesting the lack of seriousness which has brought Kashmir situation to the gloomy horizons in 2016.
2. Remembering Kashmir only when it burns 
We , the civil society and Government of India remember Kashmir only when it is engulfed in violence and unrest. The moment false image of normalcy – like arrival of tourists- is achieved everything is forgotten. Ignoring the 1987 rigging of elections gave rise to violent militancy of 1990s. People’s urge for a peaceful resolution of conflict was ignored, which gave rise to anger in 2008, Human rights abuses were brushed apart; it gave rise to 2010 summer violence, Suffocation and suppression compounded by lack of grassroots democracy resulted in Himalayan rage in 2016 .The biggest lesson on both the sides would be to create congenial environment and build dialogue.
3. Reforming crowd control mechanisms 
Considering the sensitivity of Kashmir it is all the more necessary to have such crowd control methods which effectively deal with protests but does not violate the line of the higher law of humanity, does not brutalize our own people As traditional crowd control tools of teargas shells and pepper gas with recently added infamous pellets have wrecked havoc. In every agitation in Kashmir these very crowd control weapons have come under sharp criticism. Pellets have blinded, pepper has damaged respiratory tract and thus people have got more angry and alienated. Untrained crowd control force should be replaced with a more professional one.
4. Pellet Gun 
If one dynamic that has harmed the reputation of state and angered the masses beyond measurable magnitude it is the gruesome use of now infamous pellet gun. The masses showered with pellets have reached around two million; hundreds of youth have been blinded/semi-blinded and maimed due to pellet gun, ruining their and family’s life entirely and beyond imagination.. It has harmed the reputation of Indian state globally and added fuel to fire in unrest and agitation in the Kashmir valley. If we desire to save Kashmir the pellet gun should be banned without any ifs and buts; otherwise, a calamity of gigantic proportions will be in offing. Security Forces do not discriminate what is rarest of the rare cases for the use of the Pellets. They have and tend to use it indiscriminately with impunity. Total ban on the use of Pellet Gun, which is provenly a lethal rather than non-lethal weapon, is a measure that is a must to bring Kashmir back from the brink. Pellets are still blinding and killing people in Kashmir. Instead of replacing it, PAVA has been added to it.
5. Draconian laws 
Blanket continuation and misuse of Public Safety Act (PSA) and AFSPA have acted as catalyst for public rage and resentment, whatever be the magnitude of militancy and protests the manner in which these laws have been implemented have damaging consequences on the psyche of Kashmir. PSA as an act was formulated to curb Timber Smuggling, but it is, instead, used for crushing dissent and has became a means of corruption for the police. It is high time an expert committee analyses the efficacy, impact, misuse and abuse of such laws to bring justice, make the law enforcement law abiding, and pacify the anger.
6. Sustained Dialogue 
We believe that only sustained Dialogue is the way ahead to resolve Kashmir issue and related conflicts. Starting from zero every time a new government is elected has weakened the institution of dialogue. Neglecting dialogue by the state during less turbulent times has proven to be imprudent. .We need to recognize that an active and systematic dialogue with reasonable voices of Hurriyat is need of the hour otherwise any political and leadership vacuum would create havoc as fanatic groups will fill the vacuum and take the charge of the youth. That will make it easy for global radical outfits to lead Kashmir youth and tap their anger. It will have devastating consequences from every angle. A structured and comprehensive dialogue with those who represent anger of Kashmir is a must to defuse the situation. It also will let rationality prevail over rigidity, and peaceful means over the violent..
7. Kashmir issue not to be used as TRP stunt 
Venomous and more often jingoistic media approach to Kashmir on some prime time shows has made Kashmir a scapegoat. It is seriously obstructing return of peace and normalcy. This has even led the state government to ban some channels in Kashmir. Journalism is supposed not to inflate emotions and tempers. It must keep grave sensitivities into consideration. If it does, that will greatly help bring back normalcy. Kashmir and it’s problems should no longer be subjected to the lust of TRPs.
8. Peace constituency to be encouraged 
With every agitation the space for peace constituency has been demolished which is a dangerous trend. One is identified either as a voice of Indian state or pro-freedom Kashmir Nationalist. Thus whatever the constituency of Peace is working in Kashmir despite diverse opinions should not only be heard but encouraged and dialogued with including by Kashmiri separatist leadership. This middle ground represents sanity and hope, power to mediate peace with justice in Kashmir.
9. Failed schemes and policies 
It is a travesty of Kashmir’s fate that policies and schemes have been drafted as measures of fire fighting and easing the situation in Kashmir. They have been ill conceived and ill-implemented. Post-2010 unrest Kashmir witnessed Prime Minister Youth Scholarship Scheme (PMYSS) being announced for study of Kashmiri students in outside states but implementation of it via touts, providing below par institutions for study and not depositing scholarship money on time has lead to failure of this prestigious and promising scheme. The need of the hour is to formulate and implement visionary policies on Kashmir rather than cosmetic measures which only erodes confidence building.
10. Formulating effective Pandit rehabilitation Package 
After the painful exodus of Pandits from Kashmir valley three decades back, it has been greatest misfortune that all the rehabilitation for Kashmiri Pandits have lacked the farsightedness as no scheme or policy has so far ensured their return back to valley. Pandits are equal part of Kashmir and hence the majority must not dictae the terms of their return. Pandits too think rationally what the best way is so that Kashmir society regains its plural social co-living and which also ensures security and dignity. Kashmiris of all hues must plan and strive for their complete integration in Kashmiri society, give them back what belonged to them when they left. The majority community too has to show in this regard a cooperative and compassionate way to ensure their complete reintegration back in the society. Answer does not lie in addressing only the financial part of it, it lies in addressing complete sociological, psychological and emotional and security aspects of the issue.
11. Agitation dialogued not crushed 
The 2016 agitation should be resolved through understanding and dialogue. Any impression on the youth and people in general that this agitation was crushed can give the command of situation in the hands of extremists in Kashmir and lend a death blow to moderate voices and prospects for peace. The feeling of being crushed will be a fertile ground for militants in terms of recruitment bonanza.