These Are Not Encounter Sites, They are Our Homes

December 19

Almost every important topic today is political in nature: poverty, farmers, climate change, privatisation, Refugees, War, Denial of Space for Dissent, Narendra Modi, Assad, Donald Trump, Kim Jong– we all have opinions about these topics – but if we do not look at the facts surrounding these topics, we cannot formulate and act on informed opinions based on truth.

The followers to “Rambo Mindset” tend to grow by every passing day and their dominance to the cultural, social media narratives, are just overlearned stories communicated through mass media or other large social and cultural institutions and social networks, and a representation that functions as subtle mechanism of oppression and social control that shape cultural norms and personal beliefs.

We are posed by an eminent threat of having lakhs of “unnecessary” deaths, as an extremist narrative takes prominence and a counter- narrative being pushed on the back-burner is braced and reinforced. “Civilian Deaths in Kashmir” being succored with the catch line “death for all stone throwers” expresses stereotypical representation in everyday, sinister Affairs.

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These narratives “What were you doing at encounter sites” operate as legitimizing myths that justify the maintenance of unequal inter-group relations and this Dominant cultural narrative has exerted its influence through processes of psychological internalization that shapes the self‐concept and social perceptions of members of both dominant and minority groups. Contemporary scholarship has illustrated how dominant cultural narratives contribute to the marginalization of subordinate groups and contributes to psychological problems such as the depreciation of cultural identities- The Encounter sites are civilian abodes. Logically everyone asks, Why do they want us to not come close to encounter sites, Do they want us to run away from our homes?’

Within the Kashmiri context, dominant cultural narratives about Kashmiri youth are commonly embedded within various forms of mass media and institutional discourse, typically invoking some aspect of a narrative that portrays these youth as risk underachievers, who live in Paleolithic, uneducated families, and demonstrate inclination towards violence due to unemployment.

One needs to answer logical questions, “Why will he take money to go to these ‘encounter sites’ when there are scarce chances of one returning” or “Why has the Kashmiri young man gone so extreme to risk his life to save a Militant?”. These counter narratives will compel or necessitate performative strategies in order to resist or subvert their influence in the dominant narratives of Modern India. “Nobody will risk his life for sake of money, no matter, how huge the amount is”- Every stone thrower would say.

We need to find strategies for resisting dominant cultural narratives, such as the deconstruction of social myths and the telling of counter‐narratives, re‐imagined narratives and emphasize on the need to resist these dominant narratives, but it can only happen, when we try to understand the ground realities rather than wanting the ground to stick to our notion-ed narratives.

The elite public opinion, wealthy philanthropists, the media men, the predisposed intelligentsia comments not that narratives like such are self- destructive. Moreover, There is a negative consequence to this state backed and state dominated mode of thinking. The chess game requires two sides, white and Black. The process of simplifying and overstating our own needs known as calculating our interests, requires a reciprocal technique to be applied to those on the other side of the chess board. If there is to be an “Us”, there must be a “them” also.

Author: Qazi Shibli

Qazi Shibli is a News Editor with ‘The Kashmiriyat.’ A Documentary maker and writer, Qazi Shibli is a Journalism graduate from Bangalore University.