At an individual level Kashmiris come across as soft spoken. But this soft-spoken Kashmiri transforms into a completely different entity when part of a large crowd. Individually a Kashmiri may be a dove but in a mob they definitely are hawks. As part of a mob even the most rational Kashmiri flows with the tide and rarely speaks up against the Azadi chants, feeling too overwhelmed to think beyond the collective mentality of the mob. For several individuals, this transformation is forced upon them.
It’s an opportune time we officially start calling the gun totting men in Kashmir as terrorists. It should be India’s overt stance to call these trigger-happy Kashmiri youth as terrorists. Designating them as militants only gives a legal and moral credibility to mindless violence in Kashmir Valley. The shrewd Pakistanis are able to brand this violence as an ongoing ‘freedom struggle’ in Kashmir.
Coverage of Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir is almost negligent in Indian media. This needs to change. Social media is flooded by instances of high handedness by the Pakistan military and repeated incarceration of PoJK activists demanding basic facilities. The more the world knows about atrocities in Gilgit-Baltistan, Mirpur and Muzaffarabad the more will it become easier to deal with trouble mongers on this side of the LoC. Active efforts need to be made to make news from PoJK available in Kashmir Valley. The people in Valley need to see for themselves the stark contrast in the quality of life on both sides of the LoC.
(This article was first published in the India Foundation Journal)