Stop the killings

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With one more youth succumbing to his injuries, the spotlight is once again on the shoddy manner in which protests are being handled in the Valley by police and the paramilitary forces. One almost gets an eerie feeling that there is a certain cynical desire in the security establishment to maintain a score of two deaths a day. We have now around 60 people dead in 30 days, a rate which is twice that of 2010 when there was a certain weird parity between the days of unrest and the killings – 120 dying in four months of strife.  And given the kind of abandon with which people are getting killed, the number of dead is likely to jump further. People cannot but be appalled when even this abnormally high count of dead is learnt to have been the result of a great “exercise of restraint”. What kind of restraint is this when we have almost two deaths for each day of protest. When we have a police force which despite years of ceaseless battling with the stone-throwing protesters is far from fine-tuning its crowd-handling skills. The death of Amir Bashir Lone, 17, from Sedow Shopian on Monday morning stands out as a classic example of what is wrong with the policing in the state. Lone who was hit by pellets on August 05 succumbed to his injuries at SKIMS Soura. 
 Simiarly, on Friday, three youth were killed which further deepened the ongoing turmoil in the state. Farooq Ahmad from  Naroo Takya area of central Kashmir's Budgam district died after being hit by a bullet during clashes with the government forces. Another youth, Daanish Rasool Mir of Kreeri Wagoora in Baramulla district died of pellet injuries he had sustained during clashes at Batpora area of Sopore. Third person, identified as Muhammad Maqbool Wagay of Chadoora, was similarly killed in the police firing on the protesters. 
Already, more than a hundred youth stare at a partial or complete loss of their vision. And another fifty look set to be maimed for the rest of their lives. This has created a grim state of affairs in the Valley. The situation far from showing any signs of improvement is getting worse by the day.
The government has failed to check the killings despite the unprecedented security measures. It has not even stopped the use of the pellet guns. Despite a call by the Home Minister Rajnath Singh to avoid their use, the weapon has continued to be deployed.
The deaths of the scores of teenagers and small boys have fundamentally altered the complexion of the situation. Kashmir has teetered towards an all-out revolt which has rendered any small action by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti completely irrelevant.  In fact, the killings threaten to render the situation beyond any effort at political redress. Deaths of teenagers have lodged a self-perpetuating dynamic in the current unrest, making it go on and on  with ever-increasing ferocity and rendering it increasingly unredeemable by small political gestures.  Kashmir certainly needs a sustained political engagement to address the basic issues underpinning the current unrest but immediately the government needs to stop the killings and the use of pellet guns. These are doables and Mehbooba as CM is expected to make a difference here.
 

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