GAZA: Flipside Of Kashmir's 'controlled' Response

15 July 2014
Kashmir Observer

Srinagar: The ongoing anti-Israel protests in Kashmir mean different things to different people. While the state authorities may gloat over the criticism about the curbs on freedom of expression, the separatists find it convenient to highlight the 'international dimension' of Kashmir dispute. The largely unhindered processions have also evoked an air of skepticism with many believing that New Delhi wants to project Kashmir's resistance as an offshoot of global anti-Americanism. Some independent observers, however, are worried over the spillover of violent means of resistance and hardening of local world views. 'The protesters were largely students and they did not resort to violence. It was a sort of solidarity event so the government had no problem allowing such even. We block events which are aimed at inciting trouble,' said a top Police official wishing anonymity. Observers say, the new government of India wants to soft-paddle the issues of controlling dissent in Kashmir. 'Modi is conscious of India's external image. He does not want to be seen as someone who hurts democracy. And there was no harm in allowing protests which were aimed against an outsider,' says Irshad Ahmad, a keen Kashmir watcher. Separatist leaders lost no time in riding the emotional wave favoring Gaza. 'The outpouring against Israel's tyranny has proved that Kashmir cannot remain aloof from the miseries which their fellow Muslims are facing elsewhere in the Muslim world,' says Syed Ali Geelani in a statement on Tuesday. 'It's after all a godsend for the Hurriyat camps. They just have to own a readymade event,' adds Irshad. The protest spree has also raised some questions among sensitive observers. 'Bombs cause tragedy whether they are dropped on Gazans or poor people of North Waziristan. Kashmiris should weigh their responses well. They should not sound biased when it comes to responding to humanitarian crises,' an analyst said. Notwithstanding the internet effect of faraway wars and conflicts, many here believe that these protests help India handle the global criticism on military excesses against Kashmiris. 'When the images of processions heaping scorn at Israel and America flash across the globe it sends out a message. A message that Kashmiris have no right to seek help from the U.S or other Western powers because they are as good anti-Americans as an agitated Hammas cadre in Gaza ,' says an analyst. Experts believe that the state authorities might have found it convenient to 'channalize the young energy into a harmless activity.' 'But,' they assert, 'The state would want to keep it at a manageable pitch. If you see protests being allowed don't mistake it as a free for all. The state know when to pull the rope.'