While Pakistan came to be conveniently impugned for the Pulwama attack, what barely gets acknowledged by the Indian Government is its ferocious hegemonic posturing in occupied Kashmir that resulted in the attack on CRPF soldiers in Pulwama. Instead what we witness is an attempt to further delude the violent reality at hand, which is manifested in India’s hasty decision to not conduct state elections in occupied Kashmir, apparently dreading that elections might further allow occupied Kashmir to garner immense global attention especially after Pulwama attack. The physics of violence and armed aggression divulges that it is cyclical in nature, it never ceases, it never ends .It only inflates the coercive tendencies of the parties involved. Ravaging not only the land and the region, but with victory then defined in terms of the spillage of innocent blood and the losses of human lives, violence and armed conflict only wrecks man’s very faith in humanity itself. It is ghastly, it is horrific and it is appalling.

Ironically, the Pulwama attack itself is a microcosmic manifestation of the angst and generational trauma that armed conflicts end up germinating. Nestled in the breathtakingly beautiful Himalayan range, the Valley of Kashmir reeks of stench of Indian violence against Kashmiris legitimate call for the grant and exercise of their right to self-determination. For decades the Kashmiris have borne the brunt of unparalleled monstrosity at the hands of the Indian forces. The entire family structure has witnessed an inexplicable pilferage. Thousands of half widows are unaware of the fact whether their husbands are alive or they died succumbing to Indian brutality. Since 1990, around 100, 000 Kashmiri have been mercilessly killed. Women are raped and often gang raped, their honour mutilated.

The worst victims of the conflict are the children and the youth of Kashmir. Numerous come to be tied to army vehicles and dragged on the streets, many coerced to draw lines in dirt with their noses, while others shot with metal pellets blinding them usually in one or both eyes. Graca Marcel, the former wife of Nelson Mandela, released a UN report titled “the Impact of War on Children” in 1996 aiming to highlight the psychological impaction armed conflicts breed in young children. Marcel reported that violence and armed conflict not only “shatters their world” but also “breaks down their trust in adults”. The Kashmir pandemonium has birthed such a generation of psychologically affected and pilfered children. What happens when a young child experiences not only the demise of his parents, but his siblings or his accomplices? What happens when he becomes an immediate witness to the goriness that consumed them? And what happens when he fails to process this grave loss? His world shatters. His aspirations expire. His sense of security gets breached, whereby he comes to fear everyone else, perceiving them to be a constant threat to his young self. This is what essentially defines the cognitive scape of the innocent little children of Kashmir, who are much entwined to the conflict.

The younger generation of Kashmir is well cognizant with the dynamics of freedom. For them freedom a blessing is more than a catchphrase. It is blood, toil and tears for this is what they have experienced either through a firsthand exposure to punitive violence by the Indian forces in Kashmir or through harrowing ancestral tales of such state sponsored atrocities, that they have grown up listening to, and which now defines their collective unconscious. At a tender age, these children realize that freedom is not guaranteed, it is fought for, claimed over. An act of assertion against an administrative system of coercive oppression, it is essentially a proclamation of right against wrong, the victory of good against evil. For the Kashmiri children, the “ceremony of innocence” as Irish poet William Butler Yeats puts it, has certainly drowned. Today as they march for freedom, for a secure homeland, their expectant gazes lighting up their cadaverous and tired countenances deceive their numerical ages, manifesting a resilient resolve to fight against the hegemonic subservience they are being subjected to at the hands of the Indian forces.

The Indian government exigently needs to realize that hysterically sounding the war bugle against Pakistan to obscure the grotesque realities of state sponsored terrorism conducted in Kashmir would not distract attention from the Kashmir pandemonium. Similarly neither will the decision to not conduct elections in occupied Kashmir and deny the Kashmiris their legitimate democratic right to assert their voice by casting vote, hamper their resolve. The only manner to allow peace to burgeon in the region is through an effective settlement of the Kashmir conflict that integrally and inevitably involves honouring the wishes of the Kashmiri populace by granting them their exigent right of self-determination.

The best the world community can do in this regard is to effectively condemn Indian impunity in Kashmir and support the resolve of Kashmiris leading to a practical settlement of the pandemonium itself. This will not only restore Kashmiris faith in humanity but will also allow them to witness the ultimate triumph of good over evil. Our collective failure to do so will scar another generations hope, which will carry untold tales of repression into the future. It will be another stain on the collective memory of the region, a traumatic baggage that the future generation’s will never come to terms with. It is time we earnestly ponder upon it.