The killing of Junaid Ahmad, 12, in firing on protesters by the police has put Srinagar on the brink. This time again a minor incident of stone throwing by a group of youth has led the police to fire pellet shotguns at them. And an adolescent lost his life. Ahmad is said to have been at his home when forces directly shot at him. His is the 94th death so far which has more or less passed unnoticed, with New Delhi and for that matter the international community little concerned about the disturbing state of affairs in Kashmir. Police later even fired at the funeral procession, injuring many more. A picture shows Junaid’s coffin and the people shouldering it enveloped in tear gas smoke. But rest assured this picture will generate no outrage anywhere. More than ninety killings, one thousand damaged eyes and around 15000 injured is being treated as a business as usual.
Junaid’s death, as is the case with everything in Kashmir became a news and lived the shelf life of the news. It spawned some local politics with PDP demanding a probe for it of itself and some predictable political reactions. It did some rounds of the social sites, some memes did catch on, but all of it confined to Kashmir Valley, much of it concentrated in Srinagar, and chipped in by a section of Kashmir diaspora.
The haunting images of Junaid’s funeral scrolled by in the Twitter feed for twenty four hours or so and then vanished. They didn’t, however, catch on beyond the Kashmir hashtag. Not even by hashtag India and Pakistan.
Yet another killing of a boy has struggled for attention and lapsed into yet another insignificant statistics in the banality of Kashmir violence. Junaid hasn’t broken the silence that reigns supreme over the new pernicious turn in the nature of the lingering bloodshed in the state. He has become a small news, not a narrative which could make situation in Kashmir a little more visible to outsiders, and lay bare what is it to experience the Valley on a day to day basis.
Junaid couldn’t be an issue beyond a point. That might raise too uncomfortable questions about the long festering situation in the state to answer within the humanitarian framework laid out by his death. It might unhinge the convenient apathy and prejudice and yield space to some guilt and shame, something that might overturn many an assiduously built political fortunes over the state.
The killing of Junaid hasn’t generated the warranted anger anywhere. All one has got to hear is a familiar chorus of the noise, one reserved for the now routine incidents of violence. Is this all that ordinary Kashmiri lives are worth, while those of the military personnel can trigger primetime outrage, competing politics, civil society concern and potentially a nuclear war. This should make us pause and think. What should be of utmost concern for us all is how to make Kashmiri lives matter. We can’t go on mindlessly pursuing a self-inflicting protest course while the world and for that matter the rest of India is unaware of it. This calls for us all to rethink and re-strategize. A struggle has to be smart, not suicidal.
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