Fair Game !


Arshad Hussain Dar, 23, who was critically injured during clashes on Srinagar-Baramulla highway near Pattan succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday evening. The deceased had received head injuries during protests against rape of a minor girl at Malikpora, Sumbal. Authorities immediately ordered imposition of curfew-like restrictions in parts of Baramulla and Bandipora including highway habitations of Mirgund and Hanjiwara. Separatist leadership has called for hartal against the civilian killings. Besides Dar, one more civilian Rayees Ahmad Dar was killed during Cordon and Search Operation at Pulwama. Similarly, the alleged cow vigilantes killed Nayeem Shah of Bhaderwah. It is almost as if Kashmiris have become an open game for the state and the vigilante groups.  

In case of Dar, his only crime was that he was protesting against the rape of a three year old girl. But in Kashmir even this justified expression of anger and outrage is deemed unacceptable by the state. The use of lethal weapons against even the rightly aggrieved protesters is deemed as par for the course. 

What the killing of three more civilians, including one by the vigilantes, has done is to let slip the screen from a basic failure of the state’ apparatus in J&K.  The truth is that there is little that the state is  expected do so far as the security of the lives of the people is concerned. The killing of the civilians  has been the single-most agonising feature of the life in Valley over the past many years. It is routine for the security personnel to fire at protesting youth and get away with it. 

The parties might condemn, they might wring their hands, but it hardly generates a deep sense of outrage over the state of affairs. Beyond a day or two after the incident the state of affairs returns to normal. No action  follows.

There is no introspection as to why it is that the stone-throwing teenagers need to be responded with bullets. And why it is that the hundreds of such killings since 2008 have gone unprobed and
unpunished. This has generated so deep a cynicism in Kashmir about the system that now an announcement of a probe or talk of accountability attracts scorn.  This is very dangerous. The deepening loss of faith in the institutions has already forced people to turn away from them. And if nothing is done to redress this situation, it will not be before long that the simmering frustration would once again make the situation to get out of hand.

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