Hafsa Kanjwal: Any understanding of what is happening in Kashmir today must account for the Indian state’s belligerent policies and the rampant Hindu nationalism that has gripped India. The trope of Islamic radicalization fails to account for the structural violence that is embedded in the day-to-day lives of Kashmiris living under a military occupation. Despite Indian assertions that Kashmir is an “integral part” of India, Kashmir is an occupied territory, and has been disputed between India and Pakistan since 1947.
Over 700,000 Indian forces are stationed in the region, ostensibly to rid the area of a few hundred militants that it believes are sponsored by Pakistan, but primarily to hold the population, which adamantly rejects Indian rule, completely captive.
Most Kashmiris prefer to remain independent, while some seek merger with Pakistan. Since 1947, Kashmiris have been resisting nonviolently against Indian rule. In 1988, this peaceful movement demanding self-determination evolved into an armed uprising, and over 80,000 Kashmiris have been killed, 8,000 disappeared, and countless more arrested, tortured and raped. If you ask many Kashmiris, they would tell you the Indian army is at war with the Kashmiri people.
Since 2008, India has regularly unleashed live ammunition and lead pellets on protests, leading to massacres of Kashmiri civilians as well as an “epidemic of dead eyes.” These acts of Indian state violence on Kashmiri civilians, unfortunately, never result in international condemnations, marking the kind of erasure that occurs in situations of structural violence.
As tragic as the attack was, it was directed against Indian armed combatants, not against Indian civilians. However, India does not make any distinctions between Kashmiri rebels and civilians: Indian generals and politicians call unarmed protesters “over-ground workers” and give the army a free hand to treat protesters as rebels. More here.