Who Killed Burhan Bashir?

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Three year old Burhan Bashir was in his father Bashir Ahmad Bhat’s lap when unidentified gunmen fired at them on Friday, killing Bhat on the spot. Burhan received a bullet in the abdomen and was rushed to Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences where he succumbed a day after.  Some reports say that Burhan was holding the hand of his father when gunmen opened fire at them and after being hit walked back to his home where the family saw blood seeping out of his abdomen. The gunmen are also reported to have earlier tossed a grenade at the duo which didn’t  explode.  This shows the aim was to kill both, with no consideration for little Burhan’s life.

If anything, the death of Burhan reflects in graphic detail the madness and mayhem that threatens to once again envelope Kashmir. It reveals  a certain visceral form of violence pursued for its own sake and geared to no definite end. Adding further insult to the injury is the way the incident seems to have evoked reactions along predictable lines: feigned shock and condemnations galore topped with a hartal.  Where is the depth of outrage? Where is the genuine solidarity with the victims? Where is the demand for answers from the actors at play on the scene and behind it? Nothing of the sort exists.

Behind the convenient screen of the hartal which symbolizes now more a holiday than a genuine protest, Kashmir has gone on regardless. The political parties and civil society actors might condemn, they might wring their hands, but it hardly generates a deep sense of outrage over the state of affairs. After some days the incident will be seen as a given in the prevailing state of affairs. And thus no party would press for the action beyond a point. No party would demand serious answers from the government which so far has absolved itself by blaming militant groups for the killings. However, such explanations have hardly washed with the people who are apt to read more into the situation than what is served through official channels.

The recent months have witnessed a disturbing state of affairs taking shape. A number of people have been killed by unknown gunmen or found dead in various parts of the North Kashmir. On September 14, villagers at Dangerpora, Pattan found bullet-riddled bodies of the three youth at a nearby orchard. They lay sprawled in a row with their face to the ground and their healthy and youthful bodies red with blood. This has since been followed by the three more killings including Burhan and his father. Another was a Hizbul Mujahideen militant Fayaz Ahmad Bhat. His bullet riddled body was found on the outskirts of village Devbugh in Kunzer area of north Kashmir’s Tangmarg.  The lack of clarity on the successive murders has created a deep sense of scare in Valley. At a time when the militancy in the state is at its lowest and the violence has drastically reduced, such killings have come as a chilling echo of the nineties.  But all we get from the state government is the condemnation and the stoic silence. Time for the government, more particularly the ruling PDP, to offer some credible explanations and take firm steps to restore sense of security to the people. Little Burhan’s killing is a wake up call for everyone and we can only unheed it to our peril.

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