Protesting against human rights violations or for that matter any genuine cause or concern is ok, but then one needs to draw a line somewhere about the nature of such protests. For instance, taking to streets too can be a justified action but only as long as it does not violate other persons’ safety and liberties. However, it is unfortunate that more than anything else, it is sheer hooliganism that has become the characteristic feature of most of the protest demonstrations that are held in Kashmir’s cities and towns every now and then.
Howsoever genuine the cause behind any protest, blocking the all-important arteries leading to the premier health institutions like SKIMS or SMHS hospitals can never be a justified act. Irrespective of the importance of the issue that is being agitated for or against, the protestors, at least, need to show some respect to the emergency needs of people who have to reach the hospitals. But when the roads leading to important SKIMS, for instance, are blocked for protests, it risks the lives of the people who may need immediate medical help. Needless to say that thousands of other people who need to attend their ailing near and dear ones undergoing treatment in the said hospital too have to bear great mental trauma when they are not able to make it to the hospital.
General public as well as the political leaders share the blame of unconcern in this regard. Common people here have, over the years, perfected the art of silence; they prefer to be mute spectators to every fair and foul action, hardly ever bothering to utter a word even against the worst of traits that are settling into being a permanent feature of our collective behavior. As for the politicians, they are ever-involved in a rat-race in taking lead in provoking youths to come on to the streets for protests. Blinded by their narrow political interests and obsessed with showing their writ on the street sentiment, these people never hesitate in giving strike and shutdown calls. And as if this was not enough, they use every cruel tactic for provoking violence on the streets. Provoking mob fury is easy, what is really difficult is channelizing this rage into something constructive and productive. But this seems to have never been in their priority list.
In such a situation, wherein everyone is out there to exploit the sentiments of the youth for their own vested interests, it is for the young people to realize how and why they are being used. A river is a river, full of life and promise only as long as it respects its banks and remains within their ambit. It becomes a flood and causes death and destruction the moment it overflows its legitimate limits. This simple reality is there for the youth to understand. If they are not able to read through the selfish designs of those who do their politics over their heads, history will never forgive them for their naiveté. Instead they too will be remembered as a party which pushed this otherwise simple society into the unending vicious circles of spiraling structural violence; structural, because they end up violating the liberties of their fellow people, without even realizing that they are doing something wrong. Now if someone dies simply because he/she could not reach the hospital well in time because streets in downtown Srinagar were blocked by protesting mobs, who will be responsible for this death? Of course those who actually bring youth to streets will never share responsibility in such a case. Then, who is to be blamed? It’s time to think before it’s too late.