The way in which Jammu and Kashmir is using its forces to “humiliate and put behind bars” a younger generation of peaceful Kashmiris will push them towards choosing armed resistance, said chairman of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Yasin Malik on Wednesday.
The senior separatist leader, who had shunned armed struggle in the mid-1990s, warned that if the Indian security forces continued to “abuse and torture” the Kashmiri youth, then the young men would have no option other than to resort to violent means to register their protest.
Malik, who started a 30-hour-long hunger strike on the occasion of International Human Rights on Wednesday in Srinagar, said, “Back in 1985 or 86, when we were young, we faced torture and brutal beatings at the hands of security forces. Now, the same thing is happening again.”
“I and my party gave up arms and we started a non-violent method of protesting. Following us, many people gave up arms. But now, the present generation of Kashmiri youth, whom we brought to a new non-violent struggle are seeing the same kind of brutal suppression – arrest of youth, their humiliation, and humiliation of their parents. This year itself, four young boys have lost eyesight because of the use of pellet guns by the forces,” he said.
“Where will this push the younger generation to? Won’t they be drawn towards armed struggle? It’s a cycle – they are pushing them just like they had pushed us.”
He added that there had been no proper state mechanism to address and bring to book culprits behind human rights excesses on innocent people in the Valley.
Malik said the genuine space for political dissent had been completely curbed in the Valley.
“When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Srinagar, all pro-freedom leaders were put behind bars for around 20 days. And even in general circumstances, we cannot move freely and cannot even attend a mourning-ceremony,” he said.
Malik said a solution to end human rights excess and curbing of democratic space for dissent was the intervention of international groups and the country’s civil society.
“They need to break their silence. They need to speak up about what is going on in Kashmir. They can’t remain silent,” he said.