Need for a cool head

‘The recent car-bomb terrorist act in Pulwama (Kashmir) has practically divided the Indian community, including the exiled, uprooted Kashmiri Pandit community, which has been a hapless direct victim of the militancy in Kashmir. The terrorist attack, which killed over 40 Indian security (CRPF) personnel and injured many more, and the distasteful support that it received thereafter from some Kashmiris in the valley, has continued to rub salt into the deep wounds of Pandits, whilst also attracting a significant angry reaction and protests from many Indians – on the social media, press, candlelight vigils and demonstrations on the streets. One must be a fool not to expect any kind of reaction – verbal or physical – warnings or threats – from the common person in India!

Everyday many wars and skirmishes take place in the subcontinent but, thankfully, most of them are fought mainly on the television or on the social media, and by the usual players. Television TRP ratings are important for mass media business.

The truth is that the Indian security forces have been fighting militants – born and raised in several countries – for the last 30 years in Kashmir. Security forces are well trained, competent and experienced in the guerrilla warfare that is being fought in Kashmir; as such, they are expected to be prepared and ready to fight off the Pulwama type terrorist attacks. Security forces are also not unfamiliar with the situation in Kashmir. But in this case, there has been a major security lapse, which cost so many soldiers their lives. Someone let them down. It was a security breach. They will surely introduce further checks and additional measures necessary to prevent any recurrences.

It is very easy to blame a particular country or a particular community or a particular militant group for the terrorist attack. However, blaming others does not really help anyone, neither does cursing nor calling bad names. Such negative reactions only help to widen the divide and escalate the degree of hatred between the communities. No one wins in the end.

All stake holders must think deeply and not react and exhibit anger. This is a time to use a cool head. Why a certain thing has happened and how it can be prevented in the future? These are the questions that one must answer honestly.

All parties and individual players involved in playing the Kashmir game – neighbouring countries, local politicians, militants, security forces and government – are just playing their regular respective roles. They are doing what they are known to do. As such, it does not really help to waste one’s energy in cursing others with negative emotions, as no one will be affected or willing to listen to those curses. On the contrary, wisdom requires one to deal with such volatile situations with vision, patience, pragmatism and positive emotions, and in doing so, focus energies mainly on strengthening the defence structures, becoming stronger and capable of thwarting such potential terrors attacks in the future with greater effectiveness and deterrence.

Some angry Kashmir Pandits, who have yelled (on the social media) for extreme aggression against the militants and their sympathizers, seemingly have allowed their anger get the better of them; they forget Kashmir is their own home and the Kashmiri people are their own flesh and blood. Many people cry for the army and security personnel to take strong punitive actions, in equal measure, not only against the militants but also against their sympathisers, which literally means taking actions also against the parents, partners, siblings, children, friends, neighbours etc. of militants. Some advocate their houses to be razed to ground, similar to what a country does in the Middle East. Law and justice, however, do not work according to one’s whims and wishes; there are checks and balances, logic and rationale behind laws and legislations. Also, what one country does, or does not, is that country’s business. An eye for an eye can make the whole world go blind. Fire is not extinguished by fire.

Kashmiri Pandits are characteristically very peaceful people; they must not let their intrinsic wisdom, humanity and empathy abandon them, otherwise there will be no difference between the terrorists and them. Prudence, humanity, empathy and compassion make the difference between the two.

Going forward, it is prudent that the social media users, and other commentators, use a cool head while commenting on the situation in Kashmir. Despite any level of provocation, one must avoid making any personal attacks. Arguing and counter-arguing, and mudslinging will not help anyone but only raise one’s blood pressure and leave a bad taste in one’s mouth. In addition, angry negative emotions only sow negative seeds in nature, which manifest in hate and violence in the future. It is prudent that one steps into the shoes of the other person to better understand the situation on both sides.

It is essential that ground conditions in Kashmir are better understood – that is, what common Kashmiris observe in their everyday lives and experience on a daily basis? And why does the Kashmir youth act the way they act? One must understand that, as everywhere on the planet, young people generally tend to rebel against the world and particularly against their elders. They don’t tend to listen to many people and start breaking home rules after they become teenagers.

Young people generally look for role models when they turn into young adults. Unfortunately, since 1989, for many young people in Kashmir, the role models have been the armed militants. Such youth see a firearm as their new toy. In the past, it used be a football or a cricket bat. How did it all change? Time to reflect! The Kashmir youth need better role models.’… Bill K Koul

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