Kashmir: a history of revolt

The latest wave of mass protests in Kashmir was triggered by the Amarnath land row and a subsequent ``economic blockade'' of Kashmir snipping the only road link to the valley but its contours have already shifted. Since August 11, there were five major protest rallies march along the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road, the burial congregation of Hurriyat leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz and other protestors killed in security force firing in Srinagar's Eidgah grounds, the massive public assembly at Sheikh's native town Pampore to pay homage to the Hurriyat leader, the massive public rally in the heart of Srinagar city where lakhs of people gathered to present a memorandum for `azadi' before the UN offices and a mass Friday prayer at Eidgah. There has been a visible shift from the demand for a free cross-LoC movement of people and goods, turning it an outright separatist revolt.

In fact, both the Amarnath land row and the subsequent ``economic blockade'' seems only to have played a trigger. And contrary to the popular understanding that peace had finally returned, Kashmir had been all along on a tipping point, silently simmering to explode.

This latest separatist revolt, however, is not new in Kashmir and its origins can be traced to 16th century, when Mughal Emperor Akbar sent his troops to conquer. In fact, Kashmiri separatists have always framed their ideology behind the demand of ``azadi'' with this 423 year long history. Even the tallest leader of Kashmir, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah launched a movement for freedom from Dogra autocratic rule in 1931 based his demand on historical injustice and foreign rule, making the Mughal army's toppling of the Chak dynasty rule as its beginning. The memory of loss and pain by the Mughal invasion has, in fact, been imortalised by the poetry of Kashmir's last queen Habba Khatoon, which still is alive in every Kashmir home.

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