Amid reports of migrants fleeing from Kashmir after targeted killings by the terrorists, there's a tense situation in the Valley. Fear has gripped both locals, non-locals as well as tourists. The unabated killings of non-locals in Kashmir have brought back the tragic memories of 1990 when Kashmiri Pandits had to flee the state of Kashmir. Taking a tough stance on the civilian killings, India's Defence Intelligence Agency Chief Lt. Gen. KJS Dhillon delivered a powerful speech at an event in Kashmir on Wednesday.
Lt Gen Dhillon took a brief walk down the memory lane, wherein he reminded the people of the valley about the terrors that J&K has endured over the years and asked the tough question of who's truly suffering from the unchecked terrorism. He noted how the common people of Kashmir are the ones who've suffered through terrorism.
"As a young captain in North Kashmir in district in the hinterland, I have seen the happenings of that day (19 January 1990), a few days prior and some days later. And of course, 31 years have passed by. In any conflict... where ideas don't match, there is a percentage of the population that is acted against, and a percentage of the population that acts against that population. But they are in single digit. A single-digit population to prosecute atrocities," Lt Gen Dhillon said, raising the question of where the "85 to 95 percent of silent majority" is.
Lt Gen recalled when Kashmiri Pandits were made to leave the valley, a portion of Kashmir's soul was left with them. KPs were the anchors of the education system of Kashmir, right from primary teachers, VCs, Deans and professors and everyone in the education system, he said.
"In any society, where the education system is broken down, the future of the society, the generations breaks down. What happened in 1990 when terrorism started, the first casualties were schools. They were burned down. People who were doing it did not want the education system to come into the Kashmiri society, which otherwise was a very educated, intellectual one. They wanted to crush the spirit of Kashmir," the Lt Gen said.
Who is to be blamed and who suffered?
Raising an important point, Lt Gen Dhillon said that the years of terrorism affected the Kashmiri parents, young children and youths. Parents of children who couldn't get good education suffered, the next generation suffered, he said.
"Since there was disturbance in the state, the infrastructure suffered. In 1990, India opened up to the world economy. That is also the time when season of terror started in Kashmir. Kashmir lost out on that opportunity when India and the world was gaining the benefits of globalisation, economic development," he reminded.
According to a 2011 census, the J&K population under 30 years was at 62 percent. Citing this, Lt Gen Dhillon said "they are the children who were born during this conflict. They were born and brought up during the bandhs, curfews, breakdowns, conflicts. They were grown through the radicalization and propaganda. Their reasoning is affected by 30 years of their lifespan."
"We are being attacked at the very root of the society. Be it education, business, livelihood. Anyone who is killing my child, destroying my crops, not letting my child study is definitely not a friend of mine. This has to be understood by the common Kashmiri," top army commander said.
"Who is the loser? Our Kashmiri mother whose child was pushed into madrassa & died within a day, year. The system which came into being after 90s, took her son away either by not educating him or by getting him killed in encounter," he added.
If terrorism continues, people don't stand up for what's right, Lt Gen Dhillon showed a harsh future as reality. He said how being called a "Paki" in the West is considered abuse.
"Do you want to become a society like that? Do you want when someone calls you Kashmiri, it's an offence?" Lt Gen KJS Dhillon said.
Tourism is the mainstream revenue source for Kashmir. Tourists bring development, drive the economy. But the recent civilian killings have made it difficult for tourists to choose Kashmir as a travel destination. Hence, the common Kashmiri is the one who stands to lose the most.