A seven year old Kaneeza was killed when a stray bullet caught her while she was allegedly fleeing the encounter site. Her six year old brother Faisal Ahmad was also hit, receiving bullet in his lower back. Kaneeza breathed her last when she was being transported to the hospital while the condition of Faisal is stated to be stable. However, even in a situation where the killings of youth has become the order of the day, the death of the seven year old girl in the cross-fire between militants and government forces is a development of profound tragedy. One recoils at the thought of seeing it as a part of routine. Kaneeza’s death has caused a wave of anguish to sweep across Kashmir. It has generated a deep public outrage and the social media conversations in the state reflect it.
But at the same time Kaneeza is far from becoming an emblem of the long running larger tragedy in Kashmir. The public response, as usual, has been emotional and it is unlikely to generate any debate on the state of Kashmir and where we are heading. And whether it is possible to protect our children in the evolving dangerous situation.As Kaneeza’s death once more inclines us to believe, the security agencies are dangerously complacent about the loss of lives in Kashmir. And the government has been complicit in the matter by repeatedly failing to fix the responsibility. One could raise questions about the circumstances under which Kaneeza was hit by the bullet, but this is of little use. It would change little on the ground. Soon Kaneeza’s death will lapse into yet another insignificant statistic in the banality of Kashmir violence. It will do nothing to break the silence over Kashmir at local, national and international level.
It is a news and will die as a news, spawning some local politics and some political reactions in the process. The death has already done rounds of the social sites and some memes have caught on, but all of it confined to Kashmir Valley, much of it concentrated in Srinagar, and chipped in by a section of Kashmir diaspora. More than the brief outrage over Kaneeza’s death, it is the prospect of her death becoming a data that is chilling. Shall we forget it and move on to another death? In fact, we can already hear ourselves rationalizing it in the context of the new turn for worse in Kashmir situation. And in case of her death, each warring and ideological side has a reason not to be directly blamed. The security agencies have instead blamed “a stray bullet” for it. It is a very clinical explanation of the death. A stray bullet can come from anywhere, and it is also not possible to directly trace it to anybody. True, in this formulation of the incident, the government forces implicitly acknowledge that the bullet might have been fired from their ranks but the culpability is denied as the target was accidental and unintended. But we can always trace the bullet to any warring side according to our political preferences. And in between them one more young life has been snuffed out.