Kashmiris are undergoing another cycle of suffering due to the heavy handed and excessive use of force by the Indian army in handling public protests by a new generation of young people in the Kashmir valley.
The BJP central government has been accused both outside and within India of going for the military option and strong-arm tactics against a political solution to the Kashmir issue, in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir.
The result is the vicious cycle of protests and oppression leading to further militancy, terrorism and border clashes between India and Pakistan at the line of control.
Kashmir is virtually at a standstill especially during the last few weeks where internet services have been shut down intermittently and Facebook, Whatsapp and some other social media channels completely shut down.
Violent protests first erupted on 15 April, when security forces raided a college in southern Kashmir’s Pulwama district about 30km south of Srinagar, and assaulted students – at least 54 sustained injuries.
“We understand that students have grievances but we appeal them to resume classes as we have already ordered an investigation into the incident that happened in Pulwama Degree College on April 13,” Syed Altaf Bukhari, the state minister of education appealed.
Violence erupted towards the end of April in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk. Government forces used tear gas and water cannon to stop students from marching in the streets.
The students, both males and females retaliated by hurling stones and breaching barricades set up by police and paramilitary soldiers. They chanted “Go India, go back” and “We want freedom”. Students and some police personnel sustained injuries in the clashes.
Militant groups have been fighting government forces since 1989 in Kashmir. About 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and in subsequent Indian military crackdown. India and Pakistan have fought two wars over control of Kashmir.
Public opposition to Indian rule remains deep and is now principally expressed through street protests by youths hurling stones at government forces who have retaliated at times with live ammunition and firing pellet guns causing eye injury to thousands of civilians.
Turkey’s President Erdogan paid a visit to India towards the end of April calling for ‘multilateral dialogue’ to resolve Kashmir issue. However, India responded that it was only willing to settle outstanding issues bilaterally.