Though a humongous tragedy, the death of seven civilians due to firing by government forces in Sirnoo village of Pulwama district in south Kashmir on Saturday is not the first such incident and if things remain as they are, then its very unlikely that this would the last one either. Thus, we have two options before us- we just sit back, let events take their own course and continue playing the blame game by expressing grief and anguish every time there is loss of lives. Or we can do some serious soul searching and get down to changing mindsets that seek to draw political mileage from human tragedy. While taking the former option is easy as it requires nothing more than an impervious conscience and merely involves lamenting the loss of human lives and observing shutdowns to register our protests, doing the latter isnt easy since it demands statesmanship of a very order!
Legally speaking, every adult has the full right to do as he or she pleases and thats why there is nothing wrong with those who voluntarily rush to encounter sites and are willing to risk exposing themselves to the dangers of being killed or incapacitated. However, there is an ethical angle that every individual who does so must confront before proceeding to the site where a gunfight between government forces and militants is in progress. And this requires one to consider just two things; one, whether the person concerned has some moral responsibility towards his or her parents, siblings, wife and children; two, could this persons presence or actions at the site of encounter pose a threat to some innocent fellow Kashmiris?
If we are doing this to tell the world that our unconditional solidarity with freedom fighters and readiness to face bullets of government forces accords legitimacy to militancy in Kashmir, then we are sadly mistaken. Both UN and the international community outrightly reject any use of violent means to resolve a problem no matter how grave the provocation may be. If the aim is to facilitate escape of militants by obstructing government forces then again we should not expect any sympathy from any country or international organisation for the protesters killed in firing by government forces since the freedom fighters that we are trying to shield are viewed as terrorists by the international community and conducting anti-terrorist operations are legal throughout the world.
Our leaders may call for as many shutdowns, sit-ins and candle light vigils as they like but there will be no end to the loss of innocent lives or international condemnation of killings as long as crowds continue gathering at the scene of gunfights and keep obstructing government forces when they are fighting militants. And though the joint resistance leadership (JRL) of Hurriyat may keep accusing New Delhi of state terrorism in Kashmir, continue appealing for international intervention and repeatedly demand UN-monitored investigation into human right violations by government forces in Kashmir, but nothing will ever come out of it unless we first set our own house in order!
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