Among a series of articles that have been written on the Kashmir uprising of 2016, Chitralekha Zutshi’s piece, “The new wave of anger in Kashmir is not just about poor governance but about preserving an identity”, published recently in Scroll.in, took me by surprise.
The author makes two broad assertions: first, that the “new militancy” in Kashmir lacks elements that can be called “politics,” and, second, the “new anger against India” is about “preservation of an identity” newly tinged by a “particular religious colour”. Put together, the author’s argument can be summed up as suggesting that the militancy in Kashmir in its new form has no concrete demands that can be politically met but rouses protest based on perceived threats to signs of religious identity.
Having just finished more than a year of fieldwork in Kashmir, not to mention growing up among the youth who are out on the streets protesting, I could not shake off my disbelief upon reading such assertions.
The article in question is riddled with broad and deeply flawed generalisations. But since there is a paucity of space, I will only lay out a few points that relate to the author’s main arguments, and try to address them. I don’t want to simply dismiss these arguments by presenting facts that I believe don’t fit the author’s perspective (even though representing facts in their proper context is important), but ask the readers to open their minds to alternative ways of understanding the Kashmir uprising.
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