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Give peace a chance

A generation born when the rat-a-tat of AK-47s started in Jammu and Kashmir is worried about the current turmoil in the state, report HT Correspondents.

india Updated: Aug 20, 2008 00:54 IST

A generation born when the rat-a-tat of AK-47s started in Jammu and Kashmir is worried about the current turmoil in the state.

This generation has seen religious zealots and secessionist forces become stronger. It has also seen a lot of bloodshed and loss of lives and is concerned about the ongoing agitations in the state.

Youngsters in Jammu want a peaceful solution to the problems facing the state. They don't want a division of the state along religious lines.

For most youths in Kashmir, however, the aspiration is different. They want freedom from India -- peacefully.

In Srinagar, Shahrukh, a teenager, used to love India and its development. He had a craze for Bollywood.

But the Amarnath land row and the subsequent demonstrations in the Valley have changed him. "I am more a Kashmiri now than an Indian. I want independence from India," he says.

Until a month ago, unconcerned teenagers could be seen with the latest gadgets listening to new Bollywood music releases. But now they form a large chunk of protestors chanting the song of freedom. Mohammad Irfan, 18, feels introduction of the gun culture in the Valley in the early nineties was a mistake.

"The current peaceful mass movement is the best movement. Now I feel we are united," he says.

Muzaffar Ahmad, 17, who works in a tailoring shop, is not concerned about freedom. He says, "The continuous strikes have affected the overall business. I want to be busy with my work. What for do I need freedom as long as I earn my livelihood every day?" he asked.

In Jammu, Mansi, 14, says, "I don't know why the people of Jammu and Kashmir are fighting over an issue which has been politicised by some anti-social elements. Our state was trying to recover from a bad phase but the present turmoil has spoiled it."

Sushil, 16, says, "Everyone in India has the right to speak. In both regions, there should be peaceful protests without any bloodshed and destruction."

Sahil, 20, said, "These kinds of protests are giving an opportunity to those who are trying to fan communal passions among innocent people and trying to divide the two regions of the state."

In Doda, the generation born after the outbreak of militancy in 1989 has never experienced peace.

After many years, they were trying to forget the past and concentrating on studying for a better future.

But the protests have changed them and they are now talking only about freedom. Mateen Hafiz, 18, is of the opinion that "the agitation in Jammu is heading towards a division of the state on a communal basis that could be harmful for the whole state as people of different religions live in both regions."