Stone Age

Kani jang is not new experience for Kashmir and its people. For last more than six decades stone pelting had been the ultimate weapon of Kashmiri anger at any point of conflict arising out of intimidation. In real sense resorting to stone throwing as a weapon for defence and defiance is manifestation of volcanic eruptions of extreme dissent. Except, for last two decades, when only guns were roaring and ruling the valley, ultimate warheads with innocent Kashmiries against injustice were stones. In fifties when late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was depose from Prime Ministership of Jammu and Kashmir, slogans and ultimately the stones were the only weapon in the arsenal of Kashmiri people which represented the intense anger emerging out of inflicted insult and disregard for their mandate. Down the memory lane, during Maharaja’s autocratic rule on the historic day of 13 of July 1931 Kashmiri people expressed their extreme resentment against the Maharaja’s autocracy by pelting stones out side Srinagar central jail and twenty two innocent Kashmiries were martyred by the bullets showered in retaliation by then Governor Rai-Zada Trelok Chand. At that time, innocent patriotic Kasshmiri people who expressed their anger with stones and some of them who embraced martyrdom were passed on as miscreants, waging war against the state by the Maharaja and his cronies. This historic incident proved to be the watershed in shaping the Kashmir struggle against the autocracy. Many leaders and political houses are the out come of this incident of stone versus bullet or in other words people’s voice versus autocracy. So, stone pelting or throwing is not a new happening in Kashmir or for that matter in the whole sub-continent. It has always been the expression of anger by unarmed people against subjugation, exploitation, deprivation, bullying and any extra push towards the wall by their tormentors.

The present stone throwing scenario on the streets of Kashmir is multi faceted; it has many dimensions and implications. Mainly it is purely people’s anger but at occasions vitiated impressions of exploitation are quite visible and evident. The present governing political dispensation and the political setup on the other side of the fence are equally responsible for exploiting this age old weapon of resentment to suit their own political and other reprehensible agenda. At any moment of agitation or crisis many people either behave as miscreants on the command and control of their bosses or are on prowl to exploit the situation for their own advantage. The present situation can be no different and apparently such elements may have infiltrated to turn the path of real anger of poor Kashmiries, particularly the younger generation to suit their own interests and that of their masters. The people who are crying hoarse are some were directly or indirectly involved in escalating this crisis and want either to get extra mileage out of it or want to invite bad name for these innocent young people for their own political interests.

Present stone pelting situation has to be analysed in a comprehensive manner otherwise this age old instrument of releasing genuine and extreme resentment will lose its historic implication. Agitation is the high point of any resentment, so is the stone pelting or throwing but its frequent occurrence can not be justified in a civilised society. Kashmir and its people are facing the worst of subjugation and exploitation both political and economical for last many centuries, so antagonism of any sort is fair and genuine. By submitting to brutality caused by autocrats for centuries and then mustering some courage to show signs of defiance in early thirties of the last century, we adjusted to learn the art of living under the shadow of guns and smell of explosives. Defiance against exploitation and suppression has now become part of our (particularly younger generation’s) genetic order! And stone pelting can be one form of that inherited rebellion.

Political establishments of Kashmir who are ridiculing the stone pelting and the pelters are delivering their verdict in isolation without referring to some hard facts. There are two sets of issues in Kashmir running parallel to each other; one is the core issue of unsettled Kashmir dispute and another is the socio-economic plight of Kashmiri people. Kashmir issue is a festering sore on the face of whole sub-continent since 1947 and same way the socio-economic aspirations of people of this land have never been attended to genuinely since long. These two aspects of the Kashmir problem need to be addressed simultaneously with judicious mindset and approach; otherwise the anger of people will keep on igniting in any shape. Deep rooted nepotism and rampant corruption of all sorts has added to the economical and social misery of majority of Kashmiri people. Unemployment is the major cause of concern for the younger generation. Both educated as well as unskilled youth numbering more than half a million are concerned about their future and instead of getting job opportunities they are being killed just for agitating or bullied by the security apparatus on one or the other pretext. This half a million, young, energetic generation can turn tables, it depends on the approach-they are handled.

Much water has flown down the river Jhelum; so has Kashmir of 1931 onwards and Kashmiri people of 1986 changed in every sphere of life, except for their volatile behaviour and emotional nature. They are educated enough to make out between emancipation and veiled suppression; courageous enough to fight for their legitimate rights; sharp enough to differentiate between a friend and a foe. But the only impediment and short fall with this land is that its people get easily carried away by simply exploiting their emotions and sentiments. Since 1931 this has been the only hurdle in achieving the justified status for this bruised land. Post 1947 no sincere and creditable effort has been made to resolve the Kashmir dispute making it to hang in desolation between two warring nations. Both India and Pakistan instead of resolving this issue in the best interest of their people and the world peace have resorted to overt and covert means of exploiting Kashmir issue for their own internal political requirements. Every leadership of both these countries lack courage to give people of Kashmir the legitimate right of survival with dignity. Under these circumstances there will be only brickbats and stone throwing incidents will get impetus.

It is a fact now, the intensity of roaring guns and explosions has gone down for last few years, but incidents of killing unarmed innocent people, pillage, bullying and insulting women has shown no downward trend. Recent brutal killing of school going children has created a sense of insecurity among the younger generation particularly the teenagers. Just, have a look around your vicinity and interact with these explosive guys and they will give you a bit of their mind. They are all fire, irrespective of the class of society they belong. So, a new generation of stone pelters or may be much more, is about to churn out of our faulty system of governance and suppression and will add up to the existing huge chunk of unemployed, suppressed, depressed lot, longing for social, economical and ultimately complete independence from all sort of shackles. No power of any kind can restrain these moving explosive devices from choosing their own way of defiance. Thank God! They are yet in the process of pelting stones only; otherwise this young Tsunami of anger can create havoc. I am of the opinion that this stone pelting is only a vent to their anger, so it will be appropriate to hate stone pelting not pelters as the maxim goes rightly, hate the crime not criminals. Yes, there can be some aberrations of exploitation and mala fides but overall this scenario depicts extreme human anger against suppression and deprivation.

Unresolved Kashmir issue on one side with hollow promises doled out since 1947; suppression and killings of innocents on the other front; deprivation of younger qualified people of their share in social and economic system can not go hand in hand. This paradoxical situation of standoff on all fronts clubbed with exploitation will blow up dimensions of existing anger and alienation leading to more destruction and deaths. Let better sense prevail both with the exploiters and the exploited, sooner the better.

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