– Syed Maajid Rashid Andrabi
The past two decades of armed conflict in Kashmir has given rise to such a vicious atmosphere that it becomes almost difficult to predict when an inopportune incident is going to cast its black shadow on the already distressed people of the valley. While the valley already holds the record for being the most militarized land on the earth, it becomes quite obvious to decipher its significance on the inhabitants of this place. Rather than being a sign of safety for the people, it is a symbolic of fear, extremities and a threat to their existence keeping in view the narrations of the past regarding the military operations in the valley. In fact this has been characterized as an unjust occupation which doesn’t hold good with a majority of the people of the valley and has resulted in deepening the alienation against the government within the local populace.
Being the bone of contention between India and Pakistan has also added to the woes of the people. Due to the presence of draconian laws such as AFSPA which gives unbridled power to the security forces to thwart every kind of resistance, be it justified or not, on account of maintaining law and order, the state of affairs in the valley is deteriorating very fast and has reached alarming proportions which needs to be addressed timely so, as to prevent further hostility. Incidents of violence have traumatized every part of the valley and have taken people aback on various aspects. Not only the adults but the children too are the worst victims of this two decade old violence. Quite regrettably, children who are yet to learn the basics of their lives have to live under suppression and consistent fear, for the valley is a disputed territory with horrendous laws in place, to muzzle the voice of people who raise their demands to honor their basic humanitarian rights! Ever since the inception of the armed conflict in the valley, the life of the people has become miserable for want of justice to the injustices done to them but who cares? The worst sufferers of the conflict have been the children- for thousands of them have been made orphans and the others have to experience their childhood stage through the lens of violence and fear. While the fact that all parents want to have a safe and secure atmosphere for their children so that they may nurture and flourish but inevitably what they have to negotiate with in Kashmir is well known to all.
The children of Kashmir have already lost their childhood to the turmoils and violence. While they do have something even more important to learn and incorporate but lamentably the violence gets inadvertently captured into their mental psyche which disturbs their critical thinking and learning potential from the very first instance thereby, rendering this as a biggest hurdle for them to overcome. Apart from disturbing them psychologically as they get to see and experience the horror stories behind the tragic incidents that take place in the valley, the conflict also affects their future prospectus in terms of career objectives with reasons better known to all. Psychological problems often result in criminal or violent behavior, which is thus a direct attribute of the conflict on the children of the valley. PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) has been on the rise ever since the conflict began but its worst victims have been children. In many armed conflicts, particularly in the prolonged ones that last a decade or more, children may grow up with violence as a constant part of their daily lives. While taking the nature of Kashmir conflict in view of its effect on the lives of children and their families in terms of oppression, loss of security, income and service access, disrupted schooling, displacement, physical and psychological traumas, one can clearly see and experience that it has enormously impacted them. Loss of social status and dehumanization also add to this list making the impact of conflict even more distressing and atrocious. The conflict generates a feeling of frustration and perpetual anger among the children who too seem to respond to it in the same manner by developing the distinctive capabilities that the children of the conflict torn regions have. Although not all but still a majority of them do. Violence not only disrupts social structure but also wreck the very foundation of communities. The burden of this social transformation falls inexplicably on children. Unfortunately, Kashmiri children grow up watching graveyards populate their villages. With every uprising they have to be caged in their homes lest they too would fall prey to some ill-fated incident which has happened quite a lot number of times. Unlike in other parts of the world where children share stories about the fun, here in Kashmir they do only recount the tales of horror and slogans for Azaadi! That is what our children grow up with which eventually stare their direction in the way of the wind for which we remorse later. Their concern that they too might be the victims of conflict breeds insecureness among them which gets highlighted through their overall diminishing performance.
Since children are the future of nation and the way they are developed and nurtured plays a pivotal role in its development. Nations which foster competition among children and provide them with a congenial atmosphere, to learn new things and develop their mental capabilities to promote and assist them in their education, attain excellence in all aspects through the contributions made by these children later on in their life. Not like that of ours where children have to face the trauma of violence which even shook their foundation, not to talk of developing their educational abilities. Since the solution to the conflict seems to be a distant dream, the need is to engage children and youth in fruitful activities. Every solution doesn’t lie in sending them out of the state. Their psyche is already traumatised. The government in its primary endeavor should figure out the ways which could heal the psyche of the already affected children so that they could overcome this ordeal and should devise such strategies which would help the rest of the lot to remain at bay from this trouble. It is essential to generate the sense of safety and well-being among them so that they don’t feel alienated on their own land. Further there is a need to encourage their resourcefulness at a very early stage so that it enlightens their vision and develops their intellectual abilities. This land has produced so many dignified personalities which are internationally acclaimed but what is being observed today gives a hint that it might not be able to carry forward this legacy, which could be a very sorry state on its part.
P.S:- Every responsibility lies on the government to get the acts together quickly so as to address the children of the conflict in a manner which could uplift their spirits and guide them through darkness to light. Also what is the need of the time is to bring about a radical transformation in the ways concerned with dealing law and order problems that no longer haunt the innocent people and leave a long lasting scar of conflict on their psyche which further spreads through word of mouth.
The author B.Tech-MBA from Lovely Professional University is working with Vodafone and can be reached at Syedmajidr59@gmail.com