A deep sense of revulsion was the first reaction produced by every new killing of a youth in Handwara over the past week. The youngsters teenagers or just out of their teens were gunned down in quick succession, first when the people protested against the alleged molestation and then when they protested against the killings. To twist a Shakespeare line, as flies to wanton boys are Kashmiris to Army and the police personnel. They can be killed for no apparent reason. Just when we thought that the three killings in a day would produce restraint and persuade the security agencies to re-adjust their approach the crowds, more killings took place. And now more wilfully than before. Suddenly it seemed yesterday once more. Civilian killings have once again become routine. Small provocations here and there lead to killings.
The present government, just little more than a week into the job seems to have miserably failed to come to grips with the situation, let alone address it. Looking back at the past some years, one can’t help but conclude that it is these wanton killings of the youth more than the separatist leadership which have thrown Valley into turmoil. While these deaths may not have make a CNN or BBC headline which a single death in Palestine does, it is cruel to expect people not to be angry about them. And angry they are.
More than anything else, it is this anger that in the first place is responsible for the spread of unrest through the Valley. While scapegoating separatists would serve as a convenient excuse for the government under the circumstances, it doesn’t detract from the fact that the government has singularly failed to protect lives. In any other state of India five killings of the youth over three days would have made the very survival of the government impossible. But in Kashmir like always it is the exceptional that passes off as normal. The standards that are duly followed in the rest of country are only observed in breach in the Valley. Here, it is not the long oppressed people who need to be provided a healing touch but the security agencies who have been, to put it mildly, singularly unthoughtful in their response to the situation.
More tragically, the deaths in Kashmir mean little beyond the Valley. Let alone in the rest of India where the media has pretended as if nothing has happened, even around the world. This raises a larger question about the truth of the diverse unfolding realities in the world: that is, their interpreted truth and the intrinsic truth. What the world needs is more informed and evolved parameters to reflect and make sense of its bewildering complexity. Whether we like it or not, the news follows its own caste system. News about a particular issue, subject or a people is more a function of the power than the reflection of the reality. This is why while a mere lathi-charge on a group of outstation students at NIT would rivet news channels and their prime time warriors for days on end, killings of four boys and a woman doesnt seem to matter.
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