The book examines the intersections of political violence, deprivation and conflict and explores the prospects of conflict management by studying one of the world’s most multifaceted and complex political turmoils – Kashmir. This work closely investigates the vertical aspect of the conflict, in which the Indian state and a section of Kashmiris are engaged in a turbulent relationship, and explores novel ways to stimulate conflict management. By employing the Protracted Social Conflict theory, the author argues that a conflict between a state and a social group ensues when the political elite fail to address the non-material needs of the marginalized. He demonstrates that the state, which is endowed with the authority to govern, has to foster a sense of security to the governed who are situated on the fringes of the existing political arrangements.
The author suggests that deprivation of core non-material needs, like political participation, played a major role in the rise of the violent separatist movement in Kashmir in the 1980s. During the 1990s, a positive transformation appeared as New Delhi initiated a peace process. The later opening of the two intra-Kashmir roads for travel and trade was a major step towards peace. The book transcends traditional conflict discourse to argue that it is essential not only to recognize root causes of a conflict but also to frame genuine policies towards its management.
By documenting narratives of the Kashmiri traders and the state officials, the book emphasizes the need to focus on the ‘gainers’, rather than on the ‘spoilers’, and the significance of accommodation and engagement to address a state–people conflict.