Is Kashmir stone pelting the 'new intifada?'

Last Updated: Wed, Jul 14, 2010 06:50 hrs

Indian analysts are starting to refer to the street violence gripping Kashmir as the "Kashmir intifada," apparently seeking to make a comparison between it and the earlier uprisings of Palestinian stone-throwing youth against Israeli forces.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, the use of the phrase intifada, which means uprising, highlights how the unrest in Kashmir has been led by rock-throwing boys, not the trained militants or political factions of the elder generation.

It quotes B. Raman, a former head of counter-terrorism for India¹s intelligence service, as saying in India¹s Outlook Magazine that: "What we are witnessing in certain areas of Jammu and Kashmir is the beginning of an intifada."

He adds: "The root cause is the growing perception among some sections of the youth that the security forces have been insensitive in performing their counter-insurgency duties and have been adopting objectionable methods ... and using disproportionate force against the people."

It further quotes Yusuf Jameel, an Asian Age journalist based in Srinagar, as saying that stone-throwing youth reflects the changed nature of the current unrest.

"The difference is that, in the '90s, you had people out in the streets, but at the same time you had militants fighting security forces, attacking them, exploding grenades, and things like that. Now, there is virtually no militant activity in the cities, "but on the other hand, you have crowds out on the street chanting slogans like 'We want freedom' and 'India get out.' "

Balraj Puri, director of the Institute of Jammu and Kashmir Affairs, says: "First of all, the government should try to contact the leadership of the teenage protesters about their grievances."

"As far as 'Kashmir intifada' is concerned, there is no clear model for teenagers. They are groping for their way. Of course they are in touch with the events taking place elsewhere," Puri adds.

Still, the use of the word intifada in association with the Israel-Palestinian conflict raises some hackles when applied to Kashmir.

"At a factual level, I would obviously disagree with its application to Kashmir," says Sumit Ganguly, a professor at Indiana University at Bloomington.

He adds: "The Indian state has committed many sins, but it has legal standing in Kashmir and a moral and constitutional obligation to the non-Muslim population of the state."

There appears to be broad agreement among experts that the boys, for now, are not acting in concert with militants. Yet, much of the security apparatus in the state is focused on fighting insurgents, not managing protesters.(ANI)