‘Killing, Probes, Strikes; More Killings’ (by Gowhar Geelani)
Srinagar, Sept 14: Shopian is suffering. Pulwama is in pain. And Kulgam is critical. All three towns of volatile South Kashmir are placed under strict curfew. At least five people, possibly all innocent civilians, if we go by the accounts of Police and one former Congress minister, have been mercilessly shot dead. There is no respite. Once again, the entire Kashmir Valley is on the boil.Despite state police’s assertion that three of the four youths killed at Shopian last Saturday were civilians, the Indian paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which is perceived to be involved in the killings, is maintaining that the slain were actually ‘militants’. But the claims of the CRPF turned hollow when senior Congress leader, Ghulam Hassan Khan said one of the deceased, who the CRPF officials dubbed as a Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militant, was actually a laborer from the Indian state of Bihar.According to the media reports those four people killed in the CRPF firing, on September 7, include Tauseef Bhat and Tariq Mir. On September 11, one more youth was killed when the CRPF troopers fired at a crowd protesting during a demonstration against the earlier killings in Shopian.
Sadly, senior Peoples’ League leader Abdul Rashid Sofi alias Ghazi, 65, of Baramullah was also found dead under mysterious circumstances. Police claims that Ghazi’s ‘bruised and tortured’ body was recovered from Nowpora and they believe it was a ‘hit and run’ case.
The main problem is that there is no accountability. There is no system in place. Only the strikes as a counter!
In Kashmir, the year began on a sad note. After the secret hanging of Mohammad Afzal Guru inside Delhi’s Tihar jail early February, nothing seems to be on track in Kashmir. Civilian killings in North Kashmir towns of Bandipore and Baramullah were followed by more killings in Srinagar until more killings in Gool, Ramban happened. Afterwards, the communal clashes were witnessed in mountainous Kishtwar. As if all of this wasn’t enough to satisfy the blood thirsty troopers, they went berserk and killed more people in South Kashmir towns.
The hot human blood is spilled on the streets on a daily basis, as a matter of routine, in Kashmir. Human lives have no value. Be it the Kishtwar, Ramban, Bandipore or Shopian episodes, the genesis of the conflict could be different, but the end result remains the same: Kashmiris are mercilessly murdered.
The government forces kill people for ‘sport’ and inflict immense physical, psychological and emotional pain on Kashmiris. There is immense pain in South Kashmir district of Shopian.
On the other hand, the only solution our leadership, unfortunately, has to offer is the call for recurrent strikes! Kashmir’s supposed sympathizers ensure that the economy is crippled by a series of strikes. Some would argue that when killings take place why care or talk about the economy. If we ask a daily wager what a series of strikes mean for him and his family, we will perhaps get the answer.
Perhaps, it would be too harsh to put the blame solely on the resistance leadership for lack of action and absence of any effective strategy to counter the state-sponsored violence, perpetrated by the trigger-happy Indian troopers, because the local government in Kashmir headed by Omar Abdullah has choked all the democratic space of rival individuals and groups to the extent of breathlessness.
Unfortunately, it is equally true that the resistance leadership in Kashmir has reduced itself to reactionary politics. Now even a child could predict how the events would unfold in the trouble-torn Jammu and Kashmir during tense situations. Killings. Calls for probe. Strikes. More killings.
The irony is that first Kashmiri people are killed in cold blood. The state craft then engages Kashmiris in a debate how many of the dead were civilians and militants. Once the local populace is exhausted both mentally as well as emotionally, the tyrant state makes sure that you are confused in yet another debate about the probe, and then its findings. As somebody has aptly put it that orders of judicial probe into the killings have now become a cruel joke and hence too boring. And then, the killings happen again to repeat the vicious cycle of mayhem and anarchy. It would not be out of place to say that Kashmir has been reduced to a de facto police state.
Omar Abdullah-led coalition government has ‘succumbed’ to public pressure and therefore decided to constitute a magisterial inquiry into the two separate incidents of killings in Shopian and Kulgam districts. The government has also ‘yielded’ to the demand made by the locals to remove the CRPF bunker in village Gagren, where, according to state police, five people have been shot dead since September 7. Is this admission to guilt or diversionary tactic, only the time will tell? Like some members of the Indian civil society, the government officials in Kashmir too have perhaps mastered the art of ‘fire-fighting’ to douse the flames!
The bitter fact remains that probes in Kashmir have been reduced to dirty and dingy wardrobes, wherein one finds nothing except dirt, dust and rust. This is not the time for removing bunkers and ordering probes, it is action time, time to fix the blame and book the perpetrators of heinous crimes in Kashmir. No tweets, no speeches! Action.
(Author writes for Dawn.com. He has served as Editor with Deutsche Welle in Bonn, Germany and previously contributed features for the BBC web. His weekly column appears on this page every Saturday. Feedback at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Courtesy: Kashmir Monitor