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Targeted killings in Kashmir: Our silence is consent to murder of our own people

TOUSEEF RAINA: In the face of indescribable violence, in the face of unconscionable evil marked by recent targeted killings, Kashmir is once again gripped by fear in a way it has been since the ’90s. And the situation is horrifying, utterly painful and scary. The innocent people are falling to the killers’ bullets who actually know of, or have no religion, even though they are seemingly motivated by a certain radicalized version of the ‘text and belief’ and politics.

There’s confusion all around. Mind it, this confusion always comes in with a sufficient degree of unaccountability – an advantage for the unscrupulous elements. Those who actually have the requisite knowledge to clear the air of current uncertainty, and wherewithal to unmask the ugly truths, have deliberately chosen to patronize and promote further confusion because it suits them — their politics and their economics.

Why innocents are being killed, no one has answers. We are failing ourselves yet again, and this time too silence is substituting for consent! Perhaps we have it in us that we don’t feel outraged. We haven’t and we didn’t even when we were witness to the worst pornography of violence in Kashmir. Instead, barbarity seemed ok because it came wrapped in politics! If there would have been public outrage over tragedies, then the psychotic killers would have long ceased to be faceless. But people of this land have failed themselves. Like them, their condemnations too are choosy and politically calculated. It shouldn’t continue like this, as it’s not in anybody’s favour.

Today Kashmir has become a place where people of different hues, political leaders included, simply avoid looking in the face of ugly realities, leave aside coming out to openly criticize anything. All they do is to make sure that their clichéd condemnations find some space in media.

The gruesome nature of recent killings (of Makhan Lal Bindroo, owner of a popular pharmacy in the city; Virendra Paswan; a poor roadside vendor from Bihar’s Bhagalpur; a female school principal Supinder Kour; a teacher Deepak Chand, Mohammad Shafi Lone who was done to death at Shahgund Naidkhai in Bandipora, Majid Ahmad Gojri killed in Srinagar’s Karan Nagar, and Mohammad Shafi Dar in Batamaloo area in the past few days) is a wake-up call for the dehumanized and de-sensitized Kashmir.

It’s time that the faceless killers – whosoever they are — are unmasked and their interests and motivations deconstructed so as to make sense of the popular confusion which continues to cost us dearly. The way all these people (and all others before) were done to death is absolute madness, and one really wonders if anybody could condone such behaviour.

All those who, even in the face of such tragedies, give out confusing and provocative signals through their politically loaded statements (verbally or on social media platforms), also merit naming and blaming as do those who have become habitual of thrusting their political views and beliefs on others through mad rage.

So let’s decide: is the kind of behaviour we saw in the past few days here acceptable in this society? Who has given one set of people the right to use violence against others? Those involved must be taken to task. And similar treatment must also be reserved for the security forces who ended up killing a young man in Anantnag when they could have used other non-fatal means and measures to stop a vehicle that had allegedly ignored their signal to stop.

If the killings are unacceptable, then it has to be so across the board. Tragedy and misfortunate cannot, and should not be compartmentalized. Mourning someone’s killing and celebrating someone else’s is hypocrisy. Flaying one set of killers for their tyranny and showering praise on the others for ‘bravery’ sheer pretence. Unless these two facades end, terror and injustice won’t.

Both faceless and known killers must be held to account for their misdeeds if the aim is to end the ‘absolutist anarchy’ that is ruling the roost in Kashmir. An entire population cannot be left to the mercy of psychotic killers who go on victimizing people at will and yet remain remorseless for they are credited with fighting for a “cause”.

Tailpiece: The developments of the last 27 months – since August 2019 – have yet again created conditions similar to the alienating feeling triggered by the rigged 1987 elections. Add to it the popular fears, both genuine and perceived, that people have vis-à-vis their positions, interests and needs. For now, the situation suggests that Kashmir is once again in trouble!

(JK Policy Institute)