After 13 yrs. curfew was imposed in the entire valley. The Kashmiri local media reports that 21 people are killed versus the national media reporting 11 dead and 500injured.
The secular nature of the protests in Jammu too has taken a beating. Kishtwar in Jammu region too erupted in violence with the two communities clashing. 2 people were killed and 80 injured.More than 100 shops were gutted or extensively damaged.
It troubles me to say that I do not see any light at the end of the tunnel. The people in the Jammu region are not budging till their demands are met. They want the order on the transfer of land revoked. And the issue of regional discrimination is the basis for such intensity of protests. But who disentangles the issues which seem to be hopelessly mixed up. There is a lack of strong leadership in the region. Parties like BJP see it as an opportunity and are preparing ground for the upcoming elections in 2009.
The people in the valley are tierd of being under the shadow of the militancy and the military and are longing for freedom from both. This is also evident by the beating of the former PDP minister Dilawar Mir in Sopore. He had gone to express PDP's solidarity with the fruit growers who Suddenly, a group of fruit growers and residents of Sopore took objection to Mir’s action and dismissed him "one of the killers of Kashmiris". They also expressed their anger against Mir’s party and shouted that it was responsible for creating the current crisis first by allotting land to SASB and later by demanding its cancellation. They lamented that "economic blockade" in Jammu was the result of the same "mischief" by PDP.
The different young voices I am hearing on different forums and Jammu and Kashmir communities have this to say:
Jammu Region: They want revocation of the order of transfer of land. They are clear that they have to stand up for the long on going regional discrimination. They also admit there has been a lack of strong leaders from the community. They are secular in nature and pro India. They are leaning towards seperate statehood.They want peace.
The Valley: They are not pro India and have many grievances against the Indian Govt. Fair enough they have been under the shadow of the gun for too long now. Many of them are openly pro Pakistan though most of them prefer a seperate country, Azad Kashmir over aligning with Pakistan. They have expressed their desire to have the Kashmiri Pandits back. They are definitely fed up with all the loss of life and property. Some of them admit that parties like PDP and NC indulge in vote bank politics. They too want peace.
The Kashmiri Pandits: The KP are still waiting for justice and waiting to return to their homeland. They openly express solidarity with the Jammuites. They are angry and justifiably so.They feel the Kashmiri Muslims expressing desire to have them back is all words and is translating into no action. They too want peace.
Ladakh: Have not heard any voices from this region. Dont know wether its good or bad.
Cannot say if this impasse will result in any positive and constructive results. The politics of region, religion and vote bank is most likely to win again. The politicians are bound to settle amongst themselves making sure they win some if they lose some. All at the cost of the larger interests of the people.
Valley will go back to being what it is ...a ticking time bomb waiting to explode ...again.
The Kashmiri Pandits yearning for their homeland and waiting for conducive environment to return to their homes, their apple orchards, their valley.
The Dogras risk fading into oblivion once again thanks to lack of strong and articulate leadership.
I am praying I am proven wrong.