Video Wars In Valley

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Over the past several days, dozens of videos have circulated on social media. And except for one which shows a group of youth heckling the CRPF personnel, all others are about the excesses of the security forces. One such video which has generated most outrage in Kashmir is the Army’s tying of a young man to a jeep and parading him through villages as a human shield. The video has almost neutralized the impact of the CRPF heckling video which had been selectively picked up by the television channels. There is another video which has revolted Kashmir and it is the point blank killing of a stone thrower by a security personnel in Budgam on the polling day.  Another video shows a security man slapping and hitting teenage boys held inside a security vehicle and forcing them to shout profanities at Pakistan. Yet another videos shows the forces similarly beating the three youth and forcing them to similarly shout anti-Pakistan slogans  and also hurl abuses at the country. Here again, the face of one boy is bloodied. There are many more that are being added. And all of these bring to light one or another excesses by the security forces. These videos have spawned hate on both sides. While the heckling video generated outrage in the rest of India, the videos about the security excesses have made Kashmiris angry.  

In fact, it was to stop these videos that the government had blocked mobile and broadband internet on polling days for Srinagar and Anantnag by-election scheduled for April 9 and April 12. The thinking  was that the consequent information vacuum will disconnect thousands of networked youth and facilitate voting. But all these expectations were belied as eight youth were killed during Srinagar by-poll when fearless youth marched towards polling booths. This forced the government to defer the Anantnag bypoll.

But as soon as the internet was restored, a barrage of videos flooded the Facebook and Twitter and circulated on Whatsapp. Among the first to be uploaded was the one showing the heckling of the CRPF personnel, filmed by an unknown youth who was a part of the crowd. But it was soon picked up by the sections of national media, particularly television channels, some of which aired hysterical discussions over the humiliation of the soldiers.

What is important about these videos is that their circulation doesn’t remain limited to the Valley only. They are seen across India and Pakistan. Besides, Kashmiri and Pakistani diaspora circulates these around the world. So, what is happening in a remote village in Kashmir and would ordinarily not have been known beyond a few eye-witnesses comes in the knowledge of millions of people. A humiliation and torture of one boy becomes the humiliation of all Kashmir.

The social media videos have confronted the security establishment with a new challenge in Valley. The android phones with camera and internet have given people the power to record security operations and instantly upload these to the social media. These videos have for once  graphically revealed the grim reality in Kashmir. Government should not act against the videos but address the reality.

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