For long we have known Kashmiris as separatists, terrorists, stone-pelters and so on. The media too has made a sweeping judgment about the people of Kashmir in the same vein.

To a reasonable extent, our apprehensive attitude toward them seemed genuine as bodies of our soldiers grew in number under attack by terrorists and stone-pelters continued to march streets with enemy’s flag.

However, the recent sacrifice by a young army officer, Umar Fayyaz, from Kashmir, demolishes the long-held negative notion the nation has had about people of Kashmir.

His cold-blooded murder by militants reverses the antipathy of the collective psyche and rekindles the light of hope that all Kashmiris do not belong to the same flock.

Lieutenant Umar Fayaz who was kidnapped and killed by suspected militants reminds us of many others like him who stood up to the menace of terrorism and laid down their lives for a greater cause.

More eloquently, the tragedy is not the only of its kind in which a Kashmiri youth has offered his life for the sake of the nation.

In 2015, 37-year-old, Mohammad Altaf Dar, a sub-inspector, was killed in Bandipore shootout.  He had received a tip-off that Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) commander Abu Qasim, would be meeting a group of militants in Bandipore.

Altaf Dar and a few police officers were in a private car, pursuing a vehicle in which they believed Qasim and his associates were traveling. When they tried to intercept the vehicle, the militants fired at them.

Dar was hit in the neck and abdomen. The injured officer who later succumbed to injuries had played a key role in counter-insurgency. (October 08, 2015, Indian Express)

Undeniably, the cause of Kashmir can never be fought better than the Kashmiris by themselves. The stability in Kashmir can never be attained unless common men and women reject violence and denounce terrorism as antithetical to the spirit of civilized living.

Security induces prosperity, and in turn, the dynamic foundation of society is made.  It is this desire of breathing in peace and harmony that has led thousands of youths in Kashmir to come forward to join the army in recent times.

‘Nearly 19,000 Kashmiri youth have applied for recruitment in the Indian army, a development that assumes major significance as the separatists have been asking the people of the Valley to oppose the force.’ (Apr 04, 2017, The Hindustan Times)

The people in the troubled state must understand the fact that violence never wins. It is defeating them every day. One should not forget that every wicked action leads to the wrath and displeasure of God.

Separatism holds no future for Kashmir and its youths. Those who have gone astray are fighting a lost battle and ruining the lives of their own families as well as millions of others.

The unholy struggle for independence of Kashmir from India based on religious identity grants no ‘freedom’ in the true sense of the meaning of the word.

India is home to largest population of Muslims and offers a safe haven for them compared to their religious counterparts in other countries of the Muslim world.

The fate of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen should be an eye-opener to the youths in Kashmir. The contemporary history of the Muslim world is replete with hatred and blood.

Bluntly, Muslims are the enemy of Muslims in those countries spilling the blood of their own religious fellow beings. Thousands have been maimed and killed.  The violence continues unabated without any sign of hope and reconciliation.

Tragically, peace remains a distant dream in the Middle Eastern region.  Territorial integrity is a mess with various sectarian groups fighting for supremacy.

If at all the struggle for independence is to be made in Kashmir, let it be for the cause of poverty, unemployment, and corruption. Let Fayaz’s sacrifice be an inspirational force in combating all sorts of social evil that infects the everyday strenuous lives of people in Kashmir.

The young officer’s martyrdom expresses the transformational attitude of youths from Kashmir and reiterates the nation’s commitment to eliminate terrorism from the valley.

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