Our Readers Poll: Kashmir’s Newsmakers of 2017

    Last week, we published a poll for our readers to choose 2017’s Newsmaker. Here are the results from least to the highest number of votes:

    9. Rajnath Singh (The Tourist)

    India’s Home Minister has flown into Kashmir, so many times that he should be called ‘the tourist’ rather than a minister. Earlier in 2017, he said “you will see a transformed Kashmir in a year,” that transformation has resulted in greater bloodshed rather than any transformation.

    8. NIA (Instruments of Power)

    After 2016 uprising, NIA (National Investigative Agency) pursued a crackdown on resistance leadership. With leaders and activists put under the scanner for alleged money laundering and ‘funding’ to stoke unrest in Kashmir, NIA seemed to have grabbed the headlines.
    Later, one of their cases against the resistance leaders was dropped after no evidence was found. Another round of cases continues to empower NIA to pressurise the resistance groups, and continue the state’s chokehold on them.

    7. Kamran Yousuf (The Silenced)

    Kamran Yousuf a rising photojournalist who went to the dangerous corners of Kashmir. He was shockingly detained by the Indian National Investigative Agency on ‘stonepelting’ charges. Even more shocking was how he was left to his fate by the media fraternity, especially by the organisation that he risked his life for.

    After an uproar online, his case received support and much-needed attention from the media organizations. His case highlighted the risks of being a journalist and furthermore the plight of freelancers who are left to fend for themselves. As of now, Kamran’s case has reverberated across the world but he continues to remain under detention.

    6. The VPN (Instruments of Dissent)

    After the continued internet ban, Mufti’s regime had an ingenious idea to ban the social media, so that no news comes out of Kashmir. But Kashmiri youth seemed to be a step ahead of her. The use of VPNs was such, that even her ministers and probably she herself used them. The stories still came out, with added flack for this stupidity. VPNs exposed that Mehbooba is the Empress with no clothes.

    5. Mehbooba Mufti (The Ruthless)

    “It would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved.”

    For any regime, a year like 2016 would be a disastrous end. But for Mehbooba, it was an opportunity to show ruthlessness to dissent. Thousands of activists and protests continue to be in jail, with PDP MLAs being frequented by their families. Mehbooba has used Machiavellian tactics to consolidate her power.

    With massive public relations campaigns to uplift her image, including an army of online trolls. Her compensation and jobs, to victims of pellet guns, can only talk of her rule as Machiavelli says, “the Ruthless Leader.”

    4. Kashmiri Prisoners (The Forgotten)

    Sarjan Barkati was the voice of 2016, but in 2017 not even his echoes weren’t heard. Kashmiri prisoners continue to be behind bars with little to no legal help. In November, Kashmiri prisoners in Tihar were bludgeoned by Indian forces, among them was Salahuddin’s son.

    3. Braid Choppers (The Ghosts)

    Every summer in Kashmir, turns to be chaotic. This summer, it was the Braid Chopper terror, that seemed to have put the entire nation on the edge. The alleged psy-ops had struck at the heart of the community, its women. The anachronistic response was a testament to the trust that people have in the state and its instruments. After the arrival of the new interlocutor, the braid chopping stopped for good.

    2. Joint Resistance Leadership (The Troika)

    After 2008, it was the first time that Hurriyat and JKLF had formed unity and consolidated a campaign. The unity is issue based, which in Kashmir are many. But what’s next for the JRL, the year-long campaign that was promised, has been non-existent. The policies and solutions continue to be redundant. Although JRL has steadied the ship, which was jolted by a supposed Al Qaeda man. It continues to strengthen its political base but at the same time, the alienation among the youth towards their despondency doesn’t seem to wane either.

    1. Riyaz Naikoo and Zakir Musa (Men in the Jungle)

    An audio clip shook Kashmir’s political scene. The resistance leadership was threatened to be killed in the Red Square by a former Engineering student, Zakir Musa. With people rallying behind JRL, Zakir Musa continued his tirade against the resistance establishment. He capitalised on the alienation of Kashmiri youth against the resistance leadership, his slogans became a regular occurrence at militant funerals and pockets of protest demonstration in Kashmir.

    Riyaz Naikoo, leading the biggest rebel group in Kashmir, appeared a funeral rally of his comrades. Seeking unity rather than chaos in the rebel ranks. With whispers of ‘JKLF-HM’ like bloody rivalry to recur again. Naikoo put down the rumours of rebel infighting to rest.

    Over 200 rebels were killed this year, a big jolt to the armed rebels, and even bigger tragedy for their families

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