Tit-for-tat is ruinous for Kashmir

0Shares

Jarring videos, images shot on cameraphones and depicting the conflict in Kashmir at its depraved, polarised worst have flooded the social media since yesterday.

One of the videos shows a CRPF jawan being slapped around, heckled and otherwise assaulted as he carries an EVM to a polling booth in Kashmir’s Budgam. As “Go India, go back” slogans are heard, Kashmiri youths are seen taking their anger at the Indian Union out on the paramilitary personnel posted there for peacekeeping purposes.

Despite provocation, the CRPF jawan doesn’t give in to baser instincts, and shows tremendous fortitude, patience during the ordeal. Naturally, both “patriotic” celebs and the mainstream TV media took upon themselves to point out the exemplary courage of the jawan, while underlining just how misguided it is to take out political frustration on a mere soldier of India.

And then, barely a day after, we are faced with this. A video of a local Kashmiri youth tied to an Army jeep, ostensibly to prevent stone-pelters from getting the better of security forces, hindering military operations in the terrorism-infested areas of the state. Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and the head of National Conference, Omar Abdullah, tweeted out shock and horror at seeing the footage of this obscenity.

Amid the din and outrage that will justifiably follow, it’s important to not lose sight of the fact that both these videos point to the utter depravity of the dwindling situation in Kashmir Valley.

While assaulting the CRPF jawan was morally and ethically wrong, to the point of being downright disgusting, how is the grotesquerie of a Kashmiri youth tied to an Army jeep as a veritable human shield mark of a civilised country ensuring security in a conflict-torn state?

On Thursday, it was reported that the Centre has filed a curative petition before Supreme Court asking that the June 2016 decision of the top court be diluted to no longer include the mandatory provision of filing FIRs against every encounter/counter-terror operation death even in the AFSPA regions that would be brought about by the Army in the interest of national security.

But if the image of the youth tied to the Army jeep is a fleeting glimpse into the AFSPA’s already expansive powers and misuse, then we wonder what happens when there are no FIRs, no accountability whatsoever, just “security” at gunpoint.

Of course, no one is denying that the Indian Army and paramilitary personnel have to make enormous sacrifices, often laying down their lives, to serve the nation. It’s true that the assaulted CRPF jawan was a protector of democracy and its vital tool, the elections.

That he became the target of a politically disenchanted youth uprising in Kashmir is very unfortunate. Youths should have known that shooting the messenger doesn’t help the cause and wouldn’t help theirs as well.

But shouldn’t we ask what is the democracy that the governments of India and the state of J&K want upheld when the rejection of that enforced democracy has been absolute? With voter turnouts as low as 7 per cent on April 9 and 2 per cent on April 12, what does one make of the tools of democracy that India wants to see to be working in Kashmir?

And instead of asking these difficult and unsettling questions, we focus on any one of the disconcerting videos that are coming out of Kashmir Valley, world’s most militarised zone. Unless we realise that the two videos are part of the same culture of tit-for-tat violence, we’d be party to perpetuating the very same.

And instead of asking these difficult and unsettling questions, we focus on any one of the disconcerting videos that are coming out of Kashmir Valley, world’s most militarised zone. Unless we realise that the two videos are part of the same culture of tit-for-tat violence, we’d be party to perpetuating the very same.

The “jeep row” has, however, found some kind of an “explanation” from defence and and national security correspondents, saying that it was an out-of-the-box thinking to tie up a stone-pelter to the jeep so as to prevent any real bloodshed.

Yet, we need to ask, if in this age of social media, cameraphones and viral videos, is this only a matter of poor optics or indeed something much more cold-hearted than that?

The helplessness of the CRPF jawan who was assaulted for doing his job, and the trauma of the young man who was tied to the Army jeep to dissuade stone-pelters – they are the two sides of the same coin. No point separating their inextricably entangled contexts. No point trying to play the old game of oneupmanship over which one was the more cowardly of the two, and which the more unwarranted.

Let’s be honest enough to admit that peace can never be achieved by the barrel of the gun, especially when the people for whose rights we are fighting don’t fear the gun anymore. Let’s also admit that political outreach, the only answer to the Kashmir conundrum, has sunk to its lowest in decades.

If our sympathies are with anyone of the equally victimised lot, we are doomed. Perhaps, the two videos have come out at the same time to drive home this simple point in a very complex crisis.

The Article First Appeared In DailyO

 

 

 

 

 

Be Part of Quality Journalism

Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.

ACT NOW
MONTHLYRs 100
YEARLYRs 1000
LIFETIMERs 10000

CLICK FOR DETAILS


Observer News Service

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

KO SUPPLEMENTS