“The root cause is the growing perception among some sections of the youth that the security forces have been insensitive in performing their counter-insurgency duties and have been adopting objectionable methods … and using disproportionate force against the people.”
The language has also been picked up by some of the Kashmiri separatist leaders, says Yusuf Jameel, a journalist based in Srinagar for the Asian Age newspaper. It reflects the changed nature of the current unrest – which he says started in 2008 – from the bloody insurgency of the 1990s.
“The difference is that, in the ’90s, you had people out in the streets, but at the same time you had militants fighting security forces, attacking them, exploding grenades, and things like that,” says Mr. Jameel. Now, there is virtually no militant activity in the cities, “but on the other hand, you have crowds out on the street chanting slogans like ‘We want freedom’ and ‘India get out.’ ”
The crowds are larger, and from within those crowds emerge the boys who have made rock throwing a pastime, he says. He is open to the notion that the boys are being put up to it by opposition political leaders hoping to regain power. But ultimately, he says, getting a handle on the situation means addressing the longstanding political tensions over who should control the territory.
Mr. Raman and others argue that now is the wrong time to focus on that discussion. Since the immediate anger has to do with police tactics, the Indian government needs to implement better methods of crowd control, seriously investigate human rights violations, and reach out more to youths.