By SAJAD RASOOL
On the 12th of April, Indian security forces allegedly molested a school girl in North Kashmir’s Handwara town. The reaction was obvious – people came out on the roads to protest against the molestation, stones were pelted on the forces and they once again reacted the same way they have in the past. They killed two boys, one of them a budding cricketer. Blood was on the streets and their deaths were mourned throughout the state. It further anguished the locals; they burnt down the army bunker and yes, brought down the Indian tricolor too. Presently, the minor girl has been put under strict police surveillance and the family and HR groups are not allowed to meet her.
Sexual harassment against Kashmiri women is not anything new – Indian forces have been harassing the Kashmiri populace for a very long time now – utilising rape and molestation as weapons to suppress local people. India is fighting a war against the Kashmiri people on different levels i.e. psychological, physical and emotional. Every time people react, they show resistance to the forces of the world’s largest democracy, not by guns but by stones and bricks when they are subjugated to an extreme extent.
Another cycle of fear and nightmares has returned to the Valley – killings, curfews, protests, blockades are once again seen everywhere. Streets are deserted and Indian forces and police can be seen everywhere.
India has deployed 7 lakh forces to intimidate people. They kill and regret, in the same way they have been doing for decades. They hunt and shoot, react to the protests and stones with bullets and shells and later on, apologise for what they do. Is that the way Indian democracy works? When India was celebrating Ambedkar Jayanti, the Valley was mourning the death of its kids. Is this a new version of the democracy they run in Kashmir? Why have Ambedkar’s and Gandhi’s India given such impunity to its ‘rakshaks’? This is what common Kashmiris have been asking India and its people.
It is not any law which gives Indian occupational forces impunity to subjugate Kashmiri people, it is the ‘illegal occupation’, which itself equips them with impunity.
Most of the mainstream Indian media has once again played a criminal role, by following a blackout of news from Kashmir. Within the state, people took to social media, the only way to communicate and share news in Kashmir. The bias of the Indian media has once again been proven. Indian media and the Indian state are synonyms for each other for common Kashmiris. Media has acted as a collaborator for the Indian state to continue its crimes and shield it from prosecution. The common Kashmiri has lost hope in both Indian democracy and Indian media. Media and Indian state look at Kashmir’s occupation and violation of human rights through the lens of national interest, hence misleading its own people.
The Kashmiri people usually find themselves in chaos during such situations, protest or not? Speak out or keep your emotions inside? Protest or opt for willful blindness?
The escalating tension across the Valley, demonstrations and protests by the people against the killings continued for several days. The state had to shutdown internet services, barring people from using social media as ‘the only hope’ to reach people living across world and as a means to disseminate information. The admins of various Whatsapp and Facebook groups have recently been ordered by the authorities to get their groups registered and share content in advance. This sounds like a gag on social media and so-called freedom of press.
These are the methods followed by the state to hide its lies and subjugate people and commit more human rights violations. The tool of fear will be used to control Kashmiris, a witch hunt will begin once again and soon, perhaps, we will find hundreds of youths behind bars
—The writer is a consultant with Video Volunteers (Kashmir Unheard), J&K