Everyone is out to mend the “youth of Kashmir”. Something is up with the “youth of Kashmir”, the say.
The youth of Kashmir is a political entity, much like everything else in Kashmir. The youth is the “wayward stone pelters” or the dignified UPSC rank holders. There seems to be no middle ground. You either sit comfortably in the firmaments of power or are the dissenting future militia. The youth in Kashmir is not a vote bank, but held as a sort of a quasi referendum. So when the youth topped the UPSC it was the beginning of times, but when the youth burnt the flag it was the end of times.
Yet the youth of Kashmir can be herded into rallies on false pretenses. The youth of Kashmir can be lulled by promises of jobs. The youth of Kashmir can be recruited into the army. The youth of Kashmir can be murdered by the army. The murder of the youth of Kashmir can be celebrated and rewarded.
The youth of Kashmir can wear burqas and drive scooters. The youth of Kashmir can be gifted scooties when politically convenient. Their individual achievements in which the state played no part can be politically appropriated. The youth of Kashmir is the fodder for your 9 o’clock news.
Youth kay sab maamay banay huay hain. (Everyone pretends to be the uncle of youth).
The youth of Kashmir is driving the opinions. If you write letters to the youth of Kashmir, they will respond. And ask you to f*** off, politely. The youth of Kashmir understand and know. The youth of Kashmir has little patience for waiting for India to tell them what to want. They want to tell their own stories (and they are!). When the Prime Minister of a country gave Kashmiri youth two options – tourism or terrorism, the youth of Kashmir collectively rolled their eyes, because they couldn’t care less about him or his options (and opinions).
But again, you may want to risk treating the youth of Kashmir not so much as a demographic but as a political party. As a collective organisation of a uniformly thinking cohort. The youth of Kashmir is at once misled and depends only on the benefaction of the Indian state to be rescued. The youth will prove you wrong. The youth is the fighter on the street, the quiet errand boy, the unquiet dreamer and the industrious student. The youth is also the bystander waiting for things to turn up out of nothing.
They are the ones caught in the conflict and the ones who now wage this inherited war to no end. The youth of Kashmir is much like the youth at other places – flamboyant, aspiring, energetic. And, the youth has tough choices to make of living in the unquiet peace of Kashmir.