ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

What Are Kashmir's Stone Pelters Saying to Us?

Kashmir's sang-bazan - stone-pelters - have captured the popular imagination, but the uprising has yet to be accorded the same political pedigree as the Intifada. Nevertheless, images of boys as young as nine and ten being dragged off into police vehicles, or shot dead by the paramilitary forces, have begun to dent conventional truisms about what is happening in Kashmir.

Like an obstinate nightmare, Kashmir has returned to haunt India’s political discourse, in this third consecutive summer of massive protests. For almost two months now we are witnessing the brazen courage of Kashmiri youth, armed with stones in their hands, in groups of no more than a few hundred at a time, taking on Kashmir’s much vaunted “security grid”. This carefully welded network deploys at least 6,00,000 soldiers in uniform, and another 1,00,000 “civilian” intelligence and surveillance operatives. But pinned down by this summer’s showers of carefully aimed rocks, the grid has begun to appear clumsy and vulnerable.

As the sang-bazan, the stone-pelters, insolently stormed into prime time, they brought with them an intensity that made the newspaper pundits, and the usual chorus of television-studio experts, briefly wilt. Images of boys as young as nine and ten being dragged off into police vehicles, or shot dead by the paramilitary forces, have begun to dent conventional truisms about what is happening in Kashmir. Startling photographs of middle-aged (and middle class) women in the ranks of the stone- pelting protesters have also destabilised those who have hidden behind a morbid panic of the “Islamists”, or the fear of Pakistan’s v enality, to obscure their understanding of events in the Valley. Although reluctant to grant this uprising the same political pedigree, at least some Indians seem to be curling their tongues around the word intifada. On the whole, the David and Goliath disproportion of the protests, and its sheer effrontery, has begun to capture the imagination of a growing number of people in India.

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top