Time to get real about the business of Kashmiri protesters.
In February this year, this blog had spoken about the challenge posed by evolving tactics of stone-pelting in Kashmir to the security forces.
The most critical aspect of this response is the speed at which the security forces adapt to changing tactics of the protesters. That is the key from preventing this stone-pelting business to turn into a scourge and dominate the narrative in the local media.[link]
Samar Halarnkar, whom no one can ever allege of being biased against the Kashmiri separatists, has a piece on Kashmir in the Hindustan Times. The money-quote — about the stone-pelters — from his piece is here:
Do they do what they do because they believe or does, as the police often allege, money play a part?
“We earned Rs 200 to Rs 300 as daily wage labourers,” says one of a group of masked young stone throwers. “Now we get between Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500.” Who pays them? “The separatists,” one offers. In a quiet, two-room home with open drains outside, 20-year-old street icon, Owais Ahmed ‘Mandela’, freely admits to receiving money. Where does it come from? He shrugs.[Hindustan Times]
Of course, it is not some new earth-shattering discovery that money plays the most important part in this business of stone-pelting in Kashmir. And it was noted by this blog six months ago as well:
Unlike the usual incidents of stone-pelting which are an expression of spontaneous outburst by the protesters, there is substantive evidence to prove that the latest rounds of stone-pelting in Kashmir valley are a well organised racket, a lucrative business being run at the behest of Pakistan and Pakistan-backed separatists.[link]
It is also partly a failure of the Indian government to highlight the realities of these so-called Kashmiri freedom-fighters that has allowed the separatists to portray themselves as victims of the Indian state, whereas they are the real perpetrators of organised violence against the average Kashmiri and the Indian state. Natwar Singh has rightly pointed out:
A word about the media. It is perhaps the most powerful instrumentality available. It can alter perception, provide hope, remove hopelessness. On February 27, 1950 (long before TV arrived), Jawaharlal Nehru, in a letter to the chief ministers, wrote: “I would suggest to you especially to keep in touch with editors of newspapers in your state. It is always a good thing to send for them and have informal off-the-record talks with them. Give them such real news as you possess.”[Business Standard]
A government that professes to uphold the legacy of Nehru could do no better than act on his words. And get the truth out on Kashmir. Fast.