What freedom are we really seeking in Kashmir?

Fight for Azadi or fight for so called freedom is annihilating peace in Kashmir for a very long time now and the ongoing crisis of stone pelting in Kashmir adds to the friction brewing among the youth in the state. Stone-pelting in Kashmir has towered over all news headlines for a while now. But a new face of it was flashed in the third week of April, with young girls taking to the front-lines of the protest and taking over to stone pelting. These girls included Kashmir's first female football coach Afshan Ashique, 21 who said to a leading daily, "Yes, I pelted stones yesterday. But that's not what I want to do. I want to play at the national level for India."

The entire incident took place in Pulwama Degree College last week, where the students in Kashmir have been protesting against police action. As per Afshan, certain clash between the girls and the cops led to the stone pelting incident. However, a police officer claimed that the girls started pelting stones because they realised that police would not retaliate. "Police and CRPF have been maintaining maximum restraint, which is evident from the fact that no student was hurt," the officer said mentioned in the leading daily media report.

The extremity of the intensity of the protests was very high that security personnel had to resort to using teargas shells inside the campus to bring the situation under control. Students were up roaring azaadi slogans. The real question here is not who is at fault but are we heading to Stone Age as far Kashmir is concerned.

These girls pelted stones to prove what they believed in but stone pelting was missing when conservative bans like wearing a pair of jeans or watch a play/movie or sit in a coffee shop all alone and read a book were imposed. What freedom are we talking here, are we looking freedom from radicalisation.

It is pertinent to mention that if the Indian Army were not there in the valley, it would be matter of few weeks before Taliban ISIS Al Qaeda over run Kashmir and surely girls would be hauled back to stone age - no schools, no colleges, no education no employment. Girls were banned from educational institutions when Taliban ruled Afghanistan. Looking at the plight of girls in neighbouring Afghanistan and Pakistan, the only female Nobel laureate Pak ever produced - Malala Yousufzai- can't even live in her home land, what freedom are we really seeking?

The Kashmir conflict has sired a generation that has grown up in fear, tears and hate. The young minds in Kashmir have been trapped emotionally, psychologically and forcefully in the web of selfish interests of politicians and terrorism. The citizens only want peace and have paid a heavy prize for 'Azad Kashmir', and have understood that not bloodshed but only peace can give way to peace.

If stones need to be thrown, throw stones at Saudi police for not letting girls drive.
Throw stones in Iran for forbidding women from appearing in public in any attire other than the permissible ones...
Throw stones in Khyber Pakhtunkwa against the Haqqani network.
Throw stones against sexual slavery of girls by Boko Haram in North Africa.
Throw stones against the anti-human acts.

Stone pelting at our own soldiers will not solve any issue but will leave to the path of self-destruction and a section of society which is hell bent on self-destruction can be saved from anyone and anything but not from its own self.

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Author

Payal Jain