The Continuing Orgy of Senseless Violence in Kashmir

0Shares

(Beyond Headlines)

HERE is the backdrop to the boiling frog syndrome. If you put a frog in boiling water, it will immediately jump out, but if you put the same frog in water and then slowly raise the temperature, it will not feel the torture and ultimately boil to death. In 1872, an experimenter named Heinzmann demonstrated that a frog would not attempt to escape if put in water that was heated slowly. He heated his frogs at a rate of less than 0.2°C per minute to get this effect. His work was subsequently replicated and verified in 1875 by another experimenter named Fratscher. The takeaway from the boiling frog experiment is that a frog fails to jump out of hot water when the change in temperature fails to reach what is called a reflex response level. If the change in its surroundings is too slow, no response is triggered. This response is not restricted to frogs. Even human beings often suffer from the boiling frog syndrome. In humans, slow changes often go unnoticed and don’t induce any response, unlike a sudden change which is immediately noticed. For whatever reasons, humans, like frogs, have trained themselves not to respond to gradual stimuli.

A similar boiling frog phenomenon is being witnessed in Kashmir since the beginning of this year. In March this year, after the coalition Govt between PDP and BJP assumed office, there was hope in Kashmir that things would improve. People in the valley expected turn around in the situation and some respite from the economic despair that has hit the valley. Hundreds of thousands of people in the valley were recovering from the shock of the destruction caused by the Sep 2014 floods .The flood victims had not yet been rehabilitated and they had pinned their hopes on the new dispensation, given its aggressive slogan of ‘’development’’. In fact, PDP’s alliance with the BJP was sold as a necessity that would help the State secure a better financial deal from the BJP led Central Govt. This idea was sold as panacea for all the problems and ills that Kashmiris faced, be it unemployment, loss of businesses, revival of infrastructure etc. But in the subsequent months, people in the State, especially in the valley discovered, to their utter horror, that none of this was forthcoming. The flood victims have been treated with the disdain that is reserved for slaves by their masters. Despite enormous loss to businesses and residential property, no worthwhile assistance has yet been received from the Central Govt neither has the State Govt pushed its case with vigour and sincerity. The flood victims have been left in the lurch, to fend for themselves. With each passing day, there is a sense of helplessness, frustration and resentment growing among the people. The change of Govt has not lessened the burden of a common Kashmiri. In fact things have gone from bad to worse. It is old wine in a still older bottle. It has been that kind of let down for Kashmir and it has taken just six months for this to unfold.

It is difficult, almost impossible to be optimistic in Kashmir. Living in such testing and trying conditions, cynicism and pessimism becomes your second nature. There is lack of educational and economic opportunity and no avenues to polish and showcase your talents. But it has been the heightened state of fear this year that has compounded the problems in the valley. It is in this slowly growing state of fear that one can truly visualise the boiling frog syndrome in Kashmir. In 2010, when Omar Abdullah was the Chief Minister of the State, the valley witnessed one of its bloodiest years in recent memory. More than 100 Kashmiri youngsters were killed by the security forces and the police in the protests which erupted that year. The State dealt with political violence with extreme high handedness and repression. The daily spectre of death made news headlines and political delegation of various parties was sent from Delhi to soothe the feelings in the valley. But this year, though the scale of killings has been lower, the sense of fear is heightened. The orchestra is being conducted differently, but the end result is the same: More bloodshed and more deaths. Unlike 2010, this year the escalation in the violence has been gradual, so much so that one wouldn’t even notice it. In May this year, a spate of mysterious killings began in the town of Sopore, targeting telecom infrastructure in which six people were killed over a period of a month. Though the area of these killings was limited to Sopore, it was enough to generate a sense of fear throughout the valley. People were reminded of the mid ‘90s when counter insurgents killed hundreds of Kashmiris. After the State and the militants traded charges accusing each other of these killings, it was finally revealed by the militant group Hizb ul Mujahideen, that these killings were undertaken by  its breakaway faction Lashkar e Islam, headed by a former Hizb Commander Abdul Qayoom Najar.

The spate of killings didn’t stop there. In recent weeks, this gradual violence has again picked up. Three dead bodies of young boys were recently found in Pattan. The State and Hizb, as usual traded charges accusing each other of these cold blooded killings. Syed Ali Geelani, who is always ready with his call for strike, waited more than a day to announce a general strike against these killings. His reluctance to announce the strike call also points to the complexity of situation and degradation of the separatist politics, of which SA Geelani is the most well known face. How low can they fall, that they have to call for a strike against killings, only when they know the State is the killer or the most likely killer. 

Last week, this absurd theater of death took the most tragic turn near Sopore, when, on Sep 18th, two men sprayed bullets on a former militant Bashir Ahmad, when he was returning from a mosque, after offering the evening prayer. His three year old toddler, Burhan was also hit by bullets. Bashir succumbed to his injuries even before he could reach the hospital. Burhan survived the night but lost his fight the next morning. Burhan was the youngest of the eight people who have been killed in Sopore in the last four months. As usual, politicians across the ideological divide, issued statements condemning this barbaric incident. The Chief Minister who has been conspicuous by his silence during his second term in office, also ‘’prayed for his Jannah’’. This has been such a cowardly and indifferent attitude from the Chief Minister. In the face of growing fear and resentment among people in Kashmir, all he has done is to make an incoherent and meaningless statement. No political leader or official from the State has shown even the courtesy of visiting Burhan’s family .If the State believes that militants are behind these killings, it should show a firm resolve and commitment in apprehending these killers and assuage the feelings of the people. That the State has failed to nab the killers so far, points to its ineptness, incompetence and indifference or worse, its complicity in these brazen killings. Such cold blooded murders, anywhere else in the civilized world, would have at least resulted in rolling of certain heads, if not more. But this god forsaken land has never seen accountability from its rulers neither have the people demanded that. These killings again point to the stark reality of Kashmir, where an apparent calm on the surface is often deceptive. Under this seemingly calm surface, lurks the shadow of fear and death.

When you hear of a toddler holding his father’s hand being killed in his lap, a part of you withers away, it dies. Over the years, Kashmir has seen so much of violence and destruction that deaths have been reduced to mere statistics. Our own complacency points to a deeper malaise, which we haven’t even yet recognized. We have lost empathy, tender feelings and by default, humanity. There is a collective question that Kashmir must now ask itself, however much uncomfortable it may seem: Is this the future that our present and coming generations should witness? How have toddlers become the fuel for this senseless orgy of violence and war? Let’s not satiate our dead consciousness by wishing the dead a place in paradise and adding the moniker of Shaheed to those who should have been living a normal life. That is no solace to the dead and their families. Let’s collectively cry, to at least feel a sense of catharsis. With no Burhan in her arms, the mother will now be left to embrace her son’s memories, all her life.

Be Part of Quality Journalism

Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.

ACT NOW
MONTHLYRs 100
YEARLYRs 1000
LIFETIMERs 10000

CLICK FOR DETAILS


Observer News Service

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

KO SUPPLEMENTS