32 killed, over 1000 injured: Blame the victims

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Around 32 youth including a police man have lost their lives and over a thousand have been injured over the past four days in the protests that erupted following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. The pictures of the youth with pellet injuries in their eyes and across their bodies has underlined the harshness and the indiscriminate nature of the security response to the prevailing spell of strife in Valley. An estimate puts the number of the youth with eye injuries at 90, many of whom are likely to lose eye-sight in one or both the eyes.  This paints a grim picture of the prevailing situation in the Valley. But despite that there has been little spotlight on this aspect of Kashmir’s reality by the Indian media. The debate on television has focussed on maligning the victims and blaming them for their deaths and injuries. The state government has been no different. This in turn has bred a mindset in the country which sees the problem in Kashmir as something that is best left ignored. The Valley has become a sort of festering wound in the body politic of India that should be hidden from the world. And even when there is a focus on Kashmir it is more often than not about the politics of the prevailing turmoil rather than about the turmoil itself and the state’s response to it.

Truth is that the state’s response to recurrent spells of unrest has left a lot to desire. Despite the due effort over the past two years to rid the police of its counter-insurgency reflexes and get it back into crowd control mode, the situation has not showed any remarkable improvement. As the ongoing turbulence has once again underlined, the response to it for the most part has been far in excess to the gravity of situation. Both CRPF and Police have preferred to kill and inflict life-impairing injuries than perform the painstaking job of breaking up the protests without causing the loss of lives.  The death toll and the grim nature of the injuries inflicted on a large number of the youth is a testament to the extraordinary amount of force used to quell the current anger. The pepper gas and the pellet guns are supposed to be the non-lethal weapons but it is their indiscriminate and unguarded use that has done the maximum damage. Their victims include teenagers including even a 12 year old girl. According to report, all 72 beds at the SMHS hospital are occupied, some by two patients. The injured present a horrific spectacle.    

This calls for a serious debate about the law and order methods being deployed by the police and paramilitary forces to tackle stone throwing youth, a recurrent phenomenon in Kashmir considering the perennially fragile political situation of the state.  There is a need to consider as to why protests in Valley are more likely to result in deaths and injuries to people than a similar public disquiet in other parts of the country. Answer to these questions will certainly be more handy to the improvement of policing in the state in future than blaming the victims for their suffering, an explanation the state government seems more comfortable with together with some nasty New Delhi based television channels.  

 

 

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