Four more youth lost their lives in Shopian around the time the Army killed two militants. The details of the incidents were initially shrouded in some confusion. In a statement, the Army said the civilians were Overground Workers who accompanied the slain militants, a version denied by the local residents. Later the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti too rejected the Army version and affirmed that the four persons other than two militants killed were the civilians. She tweeted they were killed in cross-fire.
Together these contentious versions have helped shift the attention away from the intrinsic tragedy of the killings in Kashmir. By the time, it is resolved whether the killed four persons were civilians or the OGWs, the incident would have faded from public memory. And somewhere else, yet another gory incident would grab the public attention. Truth is that the killings in Kashmir hardly generate any sympathy in the rest of the country. Media largely play them down and instead tends to pin the blame on the victims themselves. S
Similarly the establishment, both in the state and at the centre, cant seem to care less. The ruling PDP might make some noise as its core constituency falls in Kashmir – more so in South Kashmir – but the party soon succumbs to the pressure from New Delhi. If any more evidence was needed it was provided by the FIR against the Major Aditya for the killing of the three civilians in a recent encounter. After asserting that the FIR against the Army officer will be taken to its logical conclusion, the state government has now even denied that an FIR in the name of Major Aditya even existed.
This has a bred state of impunity. Protesters, sometimes not even a hundred in number get sprayed with bullets for pelting stones which in the past many years havent fatally injured even a single security personnel. As against this, one could at least understand, if not justify, the civilian loss during clashes between militants and security forces in the nineties when the latter also sustained some loss of life. But now the small boys with stones are an easy target. Their death in firing doesnt even invite a penal action by the government. Their killings have become a periodic reality of life.
There has also been a certain pattern to the killings. Just when a break in the cycle of death restores a semblance of normalcy, security personnel as if on cue intervene to kill a few more. This in turn sets off a fresh phase of unrest. This also usually happens at most strategic times. The fresh killings took place a day before the schools were set to reopen after the winter break. Besides, March also means the onset of spring, when the tourist rush to the Valley starts picking up.
The deaths of teenagers have lodged a self-perpetuating dynamic in the prevailing uncertain situation, rendering it increasingly unredeemable by small political gestures. It is time the state and central governments wake up to this depressing reality and start making efforts that address the factors underpinning the lingering turmoil in the state.
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