Kashmir: Violence has long remained a source of inspiration to the people in Kashmir, especially the youth. This is certainly not because young Kashmiris are fond of violence, but is a direct consequence of being exposed/subjected to separatist sentiment, religious polarization, and so forth.
Youth everywhere have goals, dreams, vision, ambitions, and a thirst for heroism. Through various avenues or platforms they are able to channelize their energies and realize their potential, be it sports tournaments, talent competitions, TV shows, there are myriad opportunities for their inborn and inherent capacities as a youth to be acknowledged, awarded and also, probably most significantly, respected. But in this turmoil-ridden valley, the case is different. Although their ambitions and dreams are similar, and Kashmiri youth here also have inherent talents and capacities to contribute to society, they lack a platform for being acknowledged and rewarded.
As noted above, the unfortunate context in Kashmir means that all those who are violent are acknowledged, respected and even rewarded. The history bears witness to the fact that time and again heroes have risen through acts of violence and words of aggression A majority of the so-called leaders of this turmoil-torn zone have violent pasts and today they enjoy the prominence of a leader. Thus, in this lost paradise violence is rewarded, making it a platform for youth to prove themselves and emerge as achievers .
Consequently, establishing violence as the only recognized means by which to make an impact has led to an escalation of the cycles of violence we have seen in past summers. The youth here also dream big but miss out on the myriad creative platforms to give shape to their dreams. The only available platform which is nearest to the doorstep of every youth is that of ‘hartal’ and ‘protests’. Here one can easily garner appreciation: the larger the number of stones pelted the larger the recognition, the greater the damage to public property the greater the reputation of courage, and the more panic one can inspire in the hearts of people, the closer you are to rising to prominence as a leader. The fact is that the person performing on this stage gets noticed and recognized very quickly. What I mean to say is that pelting is a trend; violence is the fashion, and nonviolence is a mark of the weak. If a Kashmiri simply wants to show that he also exists and has potential – there is energy in me, there is a life and I will use it to make an impact – he becomes violent and is immediately rewarded with an acknowledgement card and bestowed with a title of bravery.
Creating alternate avenues for achievement can bring an end to this popularity of violence in Kashmir. A platform is needed where the violent will be treated as untouchables, and those who are non-violent are not seen as cowards but as powerful, respectable and, in fact, heroic. This will set in motion a movement through which the message will pervade through the masses that heroes are chosen out of non violence and not from among the violent. And in fact there are several ways in which peaceful behavior can be rewarded, as in the model listed below.
Ending Violence by Presenting Peace Awards @ District Levels
- To bring an end to the promotion of violence and, hero-worshipping of the violent.
- A platform for those who are nonviolent will be promoted and created.
- Success stories of nonviolent Kashmiris will be widely circulated.
- Those who are demonstrably nonviolent will be hailed as heroes, and this will also create a space for those who remain silent in an attempt to refrain from the violence, to be addressed, respected & rewarded as well.
- Bestowing Peace Awards at every district level on Independence & Republic days.
- Promoting Peace Awards for young boys and girls at levels of every Police Station, District level and Zone Level.
- Peace awards in schools and Hr. Sec levels.
- Peace awards at university levels.
- Gandhian Peace Awards for Sr. Citizens at District Level.
- Promoting Peace Awards within the police corps, rewarding those policemen who use and promote nonviolent methods, as well @ P/S Levels
- This will lead towards a collective movement by the people for Peace. Rewarding people will help involve the masses in this cause.
- The prestige of the award @ district level can create a ground level incentive for maintaining and actively promoting peace.
- The acknowledgement of peace work can inspire others, and motivate people to admire and attempt to emulate those who work nonviolently.
- The success stories of nonviolent people will create esteem for Peace.
- Peace will become agenda of civil society at large, and its energy will permeate through youth and adult constituencies.
Waheed Ur Rehman is a srinagar based journalist and a student of International Peace & Conflict Studies. Email – email@example.com