An Army Man's Open Letter to Kashmiri Youth
I was a constant presence in your life, and while you may have considered me as an intrusive, invasive, and unwanted presence, I was still a part of your daily life.
A protester hurls stone at police. (representative image)
Some of you are angry. Even though I don’t relate to your cause and reasoning, I can still understand why. I was a constant presence in your life, and while you may have considered me as an intrusive, invasive, and unwanted presence, I was still a part of your daily life. You probably disliked me, and many times, so I disliked you, too. But in this intertwining of fate, I did get to understand you. And therefore, I take this opportunity to address you – the Youth of Kashmir. I am the Army man.
I know your pain at losing a comrade or a loved one because I have felt the same pain and seen the same scenes of grief in our homes. Just like you, I am aware that conflict is not only about lost lives, but also about lost opportunities, lost education and a lost youth.
Unlike you, I come here for a two-three year posting and then move on. I thus tend to see things from a perspective which is not coloured by history or emotions. I only see what is happening today. And I honestly see you all headed in a downward spiral - being used by various groups for their own selfish reasons.
It has been a difficult 30 years in your life. I have seen it up close, living in my post within your village. I have faced your stone pelting and fired my gun. Let me frankly tell you that if the situation carries on like this, it will affect the next generation of youth who will be in a condition similar to yours.
We could argue about who is responsible for this mess. I know you will also blame me, but does the blame-game really help? Should you not take matters into your own hands? It is your life, it is your future. Who can make it better if you yourselves are not concerned and letting your lives be dictated by those who will use you as expendable pawns on the Kashmir chessboard? It is time for you, too, to become selfish.
The globe is shrinking – opportunities present themselves around the world. You must look beyond the Kashmir valley and prepare yourselves well to step into this role. Unfortunately, it will not happen if your schools and colleges remain closed.
Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Stones don’t even come a close second.
It is for you to decide the path to take. But decide carefully. Stone pelting, flag waving, and school burning do not really enhance your image or further your cause. Twelve-year-old Faizan was shot dead when he went to see the ‘tamasha’ of your stone pelting.
Videos showing you heckling and getting physical with security forces jawans will only fuel anger in the rest of the country. Any association with terrorism will peg you back. You surely don’t want the idea of Kashmiriyat vanishing. The values you see in your homes and among your elders have been shaped by this very idea. If you respect these values, protect them.
You must have a dream. If you don’t, you will never even come close to realising what you can achieve. And this dream must be yours alone. Listen only to your heart because it will tell you what is right - whether your hands should grasp within them your future or two stones.
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