Before four more Kashmiris are consigned to the statistical heap of the thousands who died over the past 26 years, the circumstances of their death bear repetition: It began when a group of youth took exception to the alleged molestation of a school girl by the Army and started protesting. Police was called out to control the mob. They lobbed tear gas shells and fired in the air. The mob allegedly threw stones at the police and the Army bunker. In retaliation, the soldiers directly fired at the crowd, killing three youth and injuring dozens of others, one of them a woman. Four killings for a protest over the molestation of a girl. One of the youth Nayeem Qadir Bhat was a well-known cricketer in the town. He ironically wanted to play for India one day. He had been earlier selected for the Under19 team by the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association. His room had pictures of Sachin Tendulakar, Rahul Dravid and Virat Kohli.
Another youth was Iqbal Farooq Pir. And the woman Raja Begum was hit by a bullet while working in the field. This was followed by the death of another youth Jehangir Ahmad Wani. Imagine, four killings over a protest. And imagine, how eminently avoidable it was. But that four youth were still killed only goes on to show how easy it is for the security personnel to kill in Kashmir and get away with it.
For once, there will be no sense of outrage expressed anywhere in the country, least of all in the television studios in New Delhi which sell and mint money out of the manufactured outrages across the country. Their latest outrage opportunity was the J&K police lathi-charge against the outstation students at the National Institute of Engineering. The visuals of the police action where they were shown beating the students were played over and over again, with apoplectic discussions in tow. And the focus on the story continued for days on end. Nothing of the sort happened in case of Handwara killings. No broadcast of the videos of the bereaved relatives, or the distraught parents. No strident discussions slamming the role of the Army. No talk of the arrest of the soldiers. Nothing.
This once again exposes the in-your-face double-standards practised by a predominant section of the broadcast media. Their outrage is selective and generally dictated by the TRPs and to put it bluntly by a very communal and nationalistic outlook. This is such a tragic state of affairs for the media. What it shows is that the news and the outrage in India follows an implicit hierarchy: it merits playing up only when the news and the outrage is politically correct and fits the narrowed ideological framework of todays India. So, while beating of one or two students at NIT warrants days of coverage and flying of senior journalists to Srinagar to report the incident, the killing of four Kashmiris will not merit more than a passing mention. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has ordered the enquiry and promised exemplary punishment. But hardly anyone in Valley has taken her seriously. That is, unless she surprises us all.
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