DGP says verifying authenticity of footage; SSP Budgam says not investigating, nor asked to probe
Srinagar: A series of videos recorded by Kashmiris showing excesses by government forces went viral on social media on Friday. It is still not clear at what time and where these videos were recorded but the fact that they were uploaded and shared on Friday, after internet services were restored since the day of the parliamentary by-poll on April 9, suggests that they are from the day of the by-poll or thereafter.
One such video shows a man seemingly in the 20s tied in front of a moving army jeep, apparently used as a human shield or as a warning to stone-pelting youth.
“Those who throw stones will meet the same fate,” is the warning that can be heard coming from the public address system of the jeep on which the youth is tied. The jeep is followed by two more vehicles, one a civil passenger vehicle, carrying soldiers in them.
The video that has been reportedly shot in Gondipora area of Budgam district on April 9 is similar to videos recorded of the Israeli army using captured Palestinian children to protect their vehicles by using them as human shields.
At the official function on India’s Independence Day last year, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had referred to her “contributions as a crusader against the excesses by the Indian security forces”. She had said that villagers were being used as human shields in past years and her party had put a stop to that.
“Back then (post-1996) I would fight with the army and police when they would go for crackdown in villages. They would ask villagers to be in front of them to find militants from a house. People would fear that if the militant fired, they would die in between. I have fought against this practice,” she had said.
In another video, believed to have been shot in Budgam, two soldiers from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been shown shooting from point-blank range at a youth who is part of a group of stone-throwing youth.
Shot from behind a window, the video records the voice of a male who has apparently shot the video, saying, “They will open fire now,” as two soldiers are seen advancing towards the stone-throwing youth with their rifles aimed at them.
The soldiers are seen firing 5 to 6 rounds and then moving back after a youth falls to their bullets. The persons who shot the video say in the background that the youth has been shot in the head.
In the one minute and 18 seconds long video, the scene where the incident happens has no visible tear smoke, indicating that the troops opened fire without utilising other non-lethal resources like tear smoke canisters, PAVA shells or pellet guns.
In an earlier video that has drawn much outrage from the Indian media, in which CRPF soldiers leaving a polling station on April 9 are being heckled by a few youths, several youths can be seen providing a protective shield to the soldiers and telling other youths to not touch the soldiers.
Another such video has been making rounds on social media showing youth providing a safe passage to CRPF soldiers and a few of them even helping the soldiers on the day of the by-poll on April 9.
The latest videos have drawn sharp criticism from Kashmiris, a number of whom have expressed their anger on social media.
“We often hear that ‘terrorists’ use ‘human shields’. Historically and everywhere on earth, it has only been State terrorists (often called ‘soldiers’ as they are on the State’s payrolls) that have used such tactics. Resistance fighters neither need use human shields nor can they afford it as their existence depends on unarmed people willing to suffer or even die in order to save them. It is always the armed forces – those who have already been asked by the people to pack their bags and leave (or get sent back in body bags) – that use such heinous tactics against the people whose resistance they are asked to crush,” wrote Satyadeep Satya on social media.
JK Director General of Police SP Vaid told Kashmir Reader that a case had been registered in the recorded incident of the CRPF trooper shooting point-blank at a youth.
“We are investigating the authenticity of the video clip. What were the circumstances, what was the situation, and how it all happened needs to be looked at. We need to see the other story as well,” Vaid said.
Budgam Senior Superintendent of Police Waseem Qadri said that he had no knowledge of the authenticity of the videos nor had he been asked to verify them.
“Neither are we investigating these videos nor have we been asked by anyone to do so. We are unaware of the authenticity of the videos,” Qadri said.