Political violence is oftentimes the result of ignorance. Psychology believes that it emboldens from a person feeling worthless and as such associating himself with what he believes to be something bigger than himself; and most importantly, when leaders fuel and stir the pot in favor of a particular group inciting hate.
“Last year, 614 terrorist-related incidents were reported in [Jammu and Kashmir], the highest in the past six years. A total of 91 security personnel were killed in these incidents,” The Hindu reports.
18 years after a similar kind of event, a car packed with explosives rammed into a CRPF vehicle near Pulwama. 37 people were killed in the event claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammad, a radical terrorist organization. There were videos of the militants before the attack in which one of them said something like how he was going to be in heaven by the time the video got released. The men who were killed belonged to places all over India. They were united in a cause and died for the same.
Since the attack, all major nations condemned the attack. The US asked Pakistan to stop supporting radical organizations. Social media was abuzz with posts wanting vengeance. Search Engines were hacked to display images of Pakistan flag when searched with the phrase “best toiler paper in the world”. Candle-lit rallies were organized. Media started gobbling up montages of lives of men who sacrificed their lives.
In the midst of it all Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the stage in front of an outraged audience.
It is important to understand the Prime Minister’s mindset in anticipation of how he is going to respond to this. With under three months to the general elections to Lok Sabha seats, he is facing the battle ground amidst policy disasters that have spawned through out his five-year rule. Moreover, the Indian National Congress has staged a huge come-back in the recent elections. This was not something the BJP leaders expected. And the media has not been kind to the Modi wave of what the party believed to be the most elegant leader of digital India.
Desperate times require desperate actions.
“How, when, where and who will punish the killers and their promoters will be decided by our forces, who are capable of dealing with the situation,” Modi said at a public meeting in this Maharashtra town, two days after the attack. On Friday, India withdrew the Most Favored Nation (MFN) trade status it bestowed on Pakistan in 1996. Free speech was virtually curtailed in many places of Uttar Pradesh where a string of men posting on social media was arrested.
“Disgust appears to have the unique capacity to foster the social-cognitive dehumanization of outgroup members, and it is far easier to engage in violence when targets are dehumanized,” according to Psychologists. Especially in the present culture of social media, disgust and hate spread faster than rational thinking and informed decisions. Because what spreads is what sells.
Nobody knows what exactly happened at Pulwama. Except a terrible tragedy happened fueled by a purely vile, hateful act of terror. Holding an entire nation responsible for an isolated incident (even if Pakistan was responsible) seems a bit drastic to decide in just two days after the attack. To say violence should only be used when there is no non-violent solutions is simply lazy politics, because there is no such thing as problems that can’t be resolved using peace.
The one thing that always amazes me is the effect of non-polarization in Indian society in a way that the anger and disgust never turn internal. And that is because of the strong sense of nationality and brotherhood among multiple religious and ethnic groups. The same sense of belief should encompass the similar kind of people who once separated from us not very long ago. They eat the same kind of food, listen to same kind of music. The one way to remove brain-washing of their people who live in extreme poverty is not by cutting trade deals with them and definitely not by bombing their cities, but empowering and educating them and cutting all the sponsors of militant groups. India, as one of the leading economic hubs in the world, now has the capacity and man-power to lift an entire nation out of misery.
It might be hard to believe and may seem impossible, but peace and love is the only real answer for long-term solutions.