The former Indian External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, has said “the youth of Kashmir are completely alienated, they do not believe in the idea of India anymore.”
He was speaking at an event organised by the Observer Research Foundation to discuss a recent report by the Concerned Citizens’ Group on their observations in Kashmir. The Citizens’ Group, led by Mr. Sinha, included Kapil Kak, retired Air Vice Marshal; Wajahat Habibullah, former Chief Information Commissioner and former Chairman of the National Minorities Commission; Sushobha Bharve of the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation; and Bharat Bhushan, senior journalist. The members visited Kashmir in October last year and spoke to a cross-section of the Valley’s residents to understand their sentiments.
Mr. Sinha said, “Their bitterness hits you like a missile.” The young people in Kashmir have lost their fear of the Indian state and do not mind being killed or jailed, as long as they achieve Azaadi. This disillusionment was worrying, Mr. Sinha said and demanded intervention and dialogue.
The increased use of force by the Indian state against Kashmiris in the agitations and protests seen in 2016 indicates a failure of the state, said Mr. Sinha.
“When the youth of Kashmir, who for the first time agitated with no defined leader or leadership, asked for self-determination, India’s response was to use force. First, the Kashmir Police, then the Central Paramilitary Forces, then the Army.” Mr. Sinha referred to a quote by political philosopher T.H. Green that he remembered from his days as a political science student in college: “Will, not force, is the basis of the state.” In Kashmir, he said, it is the other way round: force is being used, instead of will.
The panelists spoke of the use of pellet guns against agitators in Kashmir. Many have been blinded, including young children.—INP