Between October and December 2019, while Kashmir was in lockdown mode, the WP report says that they surveyed 593 college and university students to study the effects of militarization on political attitudes.
The survey was carried out on the students in Srinagar using the time-space sampling technique at randomly selected locations on university and college campuses and surrounding areas. The report reasons for studying the opinions of university students and states that they wanted to focus on the “generation of rage” and the new activism that played a leading role in the 2016-2017 uprisings.
Articles 370 and 35-A of India’s constitution gave Kashmir special autonomous status, which many critics termed an unfair advantage. The August 2019 annulment of these advantages bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir, which New Delhi will now administer as a “Union Territory.”
The move to terminate Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy also effectively cut seven million people in Kashmir from the outside world after New Delhi imposed a communication clampdown.
The WP report says that we conducted our survey at a time when the vast majority of Kashmiris likely felt alienated and resentful toward India. Yet when we asked what it would take to bring long-lasting peace to Kashmir, the survey respondents expressed hope rather than rage.
Most of the students surveyed were confident about a number of different options. Two-thirds of the respondents believed that peace negotiations between India and Pakistan could be useful. The number propelled to 83% when the survey question included the participation of Kashmiri delegates in these negotiations.
Is it worth requesting help from Pakistan? On this question, there was some disagreement. Roughly 64% of respondents considered this move potentially effective. A greater share (79%) believed that the dispute could be fixed if Western countries considered the Kashmiri people as a legitimate party in the conflict.
At India’s behest, U.S. policymakers tend to treat the Kashmir conflict as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. This narrative deems Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, not Kashmir’s political situation, to be the real cause of unrest in the region.
What will resolve the tensions in Kashmir?
Among the respondents, the preferred route to resolving the Kashmir conflict was through a referendum in which the Kashmiri people vote to determine the future of their region. Fully 91% of the respondents were optimistic about this option — with 81% believing the strategy to be very effective.
The survey respondents also supported nonviolent resistance to Indian rule. A vast majority (92%) considered nonviolent methods effective — but 64% considered the resumption of militancy and violence as useful for bringing about long-lasting peace in the region.
Most of the respondents want to see a complete removal (91%) of Indian armed forces or at least a decrease in India’s military presence (92%).
The WP report says that they asked the respondents about three proposals for peace: the “four-point formula,” the National Conference’s “regional autonomy” proposal, and the People’s Democratic Party’s “self-rule” proposal.
The “four-point formula was proposed by former Pakistani president – General Musharraf, which encompassed the following”
- Demilitarization or phased withdrawal of troops
- There will be no change of borders of Kashmir. However, the people of Jammu & Kashmir will be allowed to move freely across the Line of Control.
- Self-governance without independence
- A joint supervision mechanism in Jammu and Kashmir involving India, Pakistan, and Kashmir.
All three call for the Line of Control, which divides Pakistani and Indian-administered territories, to permit unrestricted movement across the border. Where they differ is in the degree to which Kashmir is to achieve autonomy and become demilitarized. The four-point plan calls for the highest autonomy and demilitarization, while the self-rule proposal also highlights economic alliance.
The majority of respondents were hopeful for all three proposals; however, the four-point formula was somewhat more popular. Under the four-point formula scenario, the Line of Control would have transit points for people-to-people exchanges, free trade and other economic benefits. People of the region would have special rights to move and trade freely on both sides of the border.
Samir Ahmad, Central University of Kashmir & Yelena Biberman, Skidmore College. Edited by ETDESK This research was funded by a Skidmore College Faculty Development Grant and published by the Washington Post