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The Rediff Special/ Major General Arjun Ray
The mind of a militant
Loving as I love this life -- poetry, and the
What motivates a militant to kill?
Psychoanalysts have put across complex theories and several explanations. Freud argues that people who suffer Oedipus complex are more prone to violence. The State represents the father figure that the man resents. Because the State is vested with limitless authority, the resentment is even greater. There has been no direct evidence to suggest Oedipus behaviour amongst Kashmiri militants.
An unhappy and violent environment is another motivational factor which psychologists attribute to militants. Children exposed to sustained doses of violence in society, sexual abuse and suffering from social deprivation are considered vulnerable. Evidence the world over and in Kashmir in particular does not uphold this theory.
Other psycho-backgrounds have also been clinically examined. There has been no Maladaptive Reaction to excessive permissiveness, affluence and breakdown of traditional values. Through its liberal form of Islam, Kashmiri Sufism has preserved Kashmiri culture, fostered strong family ties and engendered fraternal social values. It is not even Frustration-Anger, a phenomenon that arises when radical change threatens a culture such as the reaction of Iranian and Arabic fundamentalists to the onslaught of the Western media and other cultural invasions. Everything else is frozen in time. The local Kashmiri does not appear to be unduly anxious or perturbed about the 'de-Sufisation' of his religion.
Another major driving force which European terrorists like the Baader-Meinhof, Weathermen and Angry Brigade have experienced is Utopianism. Watzlawick, a well-known social psychologist, describes Utopianism as an urge to seek perfection in an imperfect society and a demonical desire to change the existing order. Kashmiri militants are anything but Utopians -- good Muslims cannot be Utopians because in Islam even heaven is defined and is not open to interpretation.
Contrary to popular belief, religion is not the primary motivational factor for Kashmiri militants. Kashmiri militancy is not a religious movement (yet). It may however snowball into one if we continue to ignore the fact that fundamentalism has arrived in the Valley and is spreading with every passing day. Psychoanalysis of 400 captured militants concludes that they took up the gun because of the following compulsions:
For centuries, from the days of Afghan rule, Kashmiri society has suffered from an acute and exaggerated need to belong -- a crisis of ethnic and religious identity, political insecurity and a deep sense of personal deprivation. Such insecurity has largely been responsible for goading young men into the waiting arms of militancy to seek group identity. In informal but structured discussions, captured militants exhibit well known traits of insecurity buttressed by high levels of pathological anxiety.
The potential militant is trapped in a mental crossfire -- the fear of two guns -- one in the hand of security forces and the other held by active militants. The psychological dilemma intensifies till it becomes intolerable to live in the present. A low self-esteem, a weak ego and low frustration tolerance make matters worse. Sooner or later the die is cast; the Devil wins. To the new convert, the elder militants are his kindred, his religion, his hopes. When everything is lost, hope still lives on, and therefore the choice is quite clear. He makes up his mind; he crosses the Rubicon.
On account of their pronounced psycho-social wounds (some real, some imaginary), militants have a strong tendency to externalise -- to blame society and others for their inadequacies, for their plight in imprisonment.
Those who are ideologues like Ahsan Dar, Inqalabi, and Harkat leaders like Abu Jindal, suffer from acute symptoms of "exaggerated self-absorption" approaching Narcissism. Megalomaniac syndrome and a misplaced sense of history are also evident. These ideologies still fantasise themselves as cast in the mould of Mao Tse-tung and Che Guevara, striding larger than life across the stage of Kashmiri history.
The coerced adherents soon develop a strong group identity giving the militant movement and its members strength, security and status. Group psyche polarises thinking, labelling society into two camps: "we" and "they". Consequently, it is always the familiar story of "good vs evil" and "us vs them".
In such clear-cut equations there is no room for neutrality; "we" are friends and "they" are enemies. Greater the intensity of identification among the "we", the greater the polarisation. More the polarisation, the easier it becomes for an agitated mind to simplify the inherently complex issues of life and seek simple answers.
The tanzeem [an organisation with a specific goal] is his new family. It gives what the social family could never give; it fulfils all the emotional voids. Above all, it gives reason to hope. In order to belong, the freshly recruited militant pays the ultimate price for belonging -- he surrenders himself to the Group.
Excerpted from the Kashmir Diary with kind permission from Manas Publications.
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