Posting selfies and videos depicting guns slinging on shoulders of the rebels on social media is much more an easier task than fighting the guerilla warfare on the ground. It needs a proper training, both in terms of physical exercise and arms training, to fight a professional army. You need a smart brain because emotions alone can’t win wars. Clever strategies and far- farsightedness do, when somebody is fighting half a million military men. Kashmiri rebels in the past have exhibited those skills.
I believe the modern wars employ psychological warfare as major means to achieve objectives. However, overdoing of such strategies sometimes back fires. The over-glorification leads to crisis. Just like as it is currently happening in Kashmir. The cost of war can’t be raised by spilling the blood- the blood of the oppressed only.
Getting swayed by the social media videos and the selfie machismo, many youngsters, these days are leaving their homes to join those “rebels”- who believe they have overnight become the embodiment of resistance. These kids in their early 20’s or late teens are moved more by the heroism portrayed in videos, rather than having a full idea how to deal with the military on the ground. It later becomes difficult for them to reconcile with the realities existing on the ground since they are not trained for it. They end up acting as sitting ducks for the government forces that kill them with ease within one or two hours after the gunfight starts. Heroism is good, but martyrdom and emotionalism can’t become a cult.
As such, I believe, it is better for such youngsters not to join the armed movement. Instead, they should focus on other means of resistance. People, who think they possess the required skills to fight, should carry on.
Secrecy has remained one of the potent tools of guerrilla warfare. Just take an example of former rebel commander Abu Qasim who operated in south Kashmir. A police official while describing him said he was one of the smart military strategists, a much sought after quality a guerrilla warrior. He told me that at a time when they thought the state had won, the rebel commander single-handedly turned the tide against the state by reviving the militancy in entire south Kashmir. He informed the commander recruited the local Kashmiris and carried out the daring attacks on government forces. It was his secrecy which gave him the status of robin hood in South Kashmir. His secrecy and dare devil acts added to the cause of the politically oppressed than his own image. It was the reason when he got killed, two villages fought over his body as they wanted to bury him in the graveyards of their respective villages. It was the commitment to cause, his smart strategy, not the image, which made Qasim hero in the eyes of his enemies.
This quality of Qasim and his predecessors like Abdul Rehman, Aijaz Dar and other made them different from a large section of present day selfie rebels. The selfie rebels believe in their own image than in propagating the cause. Sometimes it becomes illusory for them, for they believe they have heroes by virtue of their mass appeal. Their predecessors, who built the struggle with their action, have always believed more in carrying on with the objectives of the cause rather than heroism without any goal. Selfless commitment should take over heroism.
I think martyrdom is inevitable if you pick the gun. But fighting alone for the death which will not aid the cause of the oppressed is meaningless. How does that death matters for the oppressed? Action should speak louder than images. Our people should not die as mere statistics.
The over glorification of death is making our youngsters pay with their blood. They pick up the guns when they have no training, no weapons, but only the body for the self-sacrifice. We can’t afford to do this by allowing kids to become commercial chickens for the butchers.
I have witnessed the carnage of youngsters in last few encounters. Three boys holed up in a bathroom with a single INSAS rifle and getting killed without resisting. I saw the bullet peppered door of a bathroom where the Anantnag boy was hiding and got killed without doing anything. Can we glorify this folly of ours?
It is better to stop picking arms if you have no idea how to operate them. If you still persist, it amounts to suicide. Always remember; another highest form of sacrifice is to live, survive and resist the injustice. It is not easy. The death is an easy escape unless you make your body count for the enemy.
(The views expressed by the author are his own.)
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