India has largely accepted the images of stone-throwing, slogan-chanting crowds, army reinforcements, and curfews as necessary in the fight against Kashmiri’militancy’.
Why Burhan Wani?
Wani, who the Indian government often refers to as ” posterboy,” attracted their attention with pictures that showed, and even flaunted, his identity. Online videos are also credited with the recruitment of more than 100 young people from the region into the Hizbul over the past few years.
Wani joined Hizbul after the 2010 anti-India Kashmir protests. Wani’s videos in which he called on youth to resist Indian rule are often cited as the reason for the dramatic increase in local recruitment to militant groups after the police brutality at the time and the deaths of protesters.
Curfews as a means of dissident resistance
The Indian government has argued that curfews should be extended not only in physical areas but also to vital communication channels (local papers, television channels, Facebook, and mobile message services). This is because these channels can be used for spreading rumors, hate messages, or even violence.
In other words, the argument is that it is important to maintain peace and security in Kashmir by monitoring social media and banning them.
For those who are forced to live on the fringes of their homeland, accessing these digital spaces is now associated with voice, power, and reach. This is a discourse shift on the resistance in Kashmir and the hope of winning through peaceful means.
A restless and educated generation has emerged in Kashmir, most of which were born in the 1990s after the end of armed militancy. They are intimately familiar with digital technologies.
For decades, Kashmiri people lived at the fringes of their society. Cathal McNaughton/Reuters
Comparatively, the 2011 Egyptian revolution was and is not a “Twitter Revolution”. It was the result of an increasingly stratified society where real wages had been decreasing for more than 20 years, strikes were prohibited, state repression increased, and poverty was on the rise. In Kashmir, the social media discourses, no matter how radical or out of the mainstream political ideas, can’t be considered as the cause for violence.
Words not guns
The expressions of Azadi by Kashmiri youth relate to their experiences living under Indian nation-states, the military presence of India in Kashmir, and its proposed citizenship.
The meaning of azadi is often influenced by age, gender, and class. The aspirations of children in private and government schools, in university, in upmarket residential areas in Srinagar’s capital city, or remote rural areas are very different.