The cold blooded murder, and it is nothing but cold blooded murder, of two more Kashmiri youngsters in Handwara is neither the first instance of its kind nor is it likely to be the last. And that is because savage violence against Kashmiris is structural, part and parcel of the architecture of ‘governance’ in our land, which is but a flimsy euphemism for rank repression and the retaining of a territory and its people against their will by various mechanisms of coercion and force, including killings. To that end, it doesn’t really matter who the designated CM is; the ritualism of changing some faces periodically is but one of the instrumentalities of the regime of violence Kashmiris are up against. It also doesn’t really matter if it was the Indian army which fired the bullets that killed Iqbal and Nayeem or the J&K Police or some other uniformed representatives of this repressive state. The basic reality is that Kashmiri bodies, individually and collectively, through forms of humiliation, harassment, brutality are deliberately reminded of the lack of any sanctity to their lives, bodies, sense of self and dignity. This has always been, and will continue to be, the single most important feature in a situation where the land is wanted, but the people whose land it is are sought to be subjugated or effaced. Thus, even if there are, for example, divergences between Palestine and Kashmir, the ‘point’ of why violence is inflicted on the population, with impunity provided under law, is quite the same.
One of the divergences, of course, is that state skullduggery is refined in its filthy ways in Kashmir. We may, for example, witness a shifting of focus from the killings to the ‘relationship’ between the young girl and an Indian army man. The point of that would be to, by default, try and obliterate the rape and molestation of Kashmiri women by Indian forces by positing some cases where ‘alleged’ molestation did not take place. Just as, for example, the well-oiled skullduggery machine might also posit that the protestors, against the ‘alleged’ molestation, somehow ‘provoked’ deadly force.
The point of all this, simply, is the counter-insurgency strategy of pacification: which means violence ‘can’ go down if Kashmiris ‘accept’ the premise of their lack of dignity and claim to rights. And a host of collaborators are thus also deployed to subtly or overtly propagate that point. The murder of two more Kashmiris is a reminder of that wider pacification campaign.