Experience, they say, is a great teacher, but neither the government of Jammu and Kashmir nor the expanding band of armed policemen supposedly under its command seem to be capable of learning. The results, as being seen for the umpteenth time today with the killing of a young boy in Bandipora, are always tragedy, fury, and chaos – not to speak of the silent rage that keeps mounting with the state’s obdurate determination never to call anyone one to account.
Clamping down on mass protests and violence with curfew may have come as a handy tool for the state’s rulers, and a device to quell disturbance temporarily, but is not a substitute for considered policy decisions on the use of lethal force in what are conveniently being termed as law-and-order situations.
According to reports, the Naidkhai area in Bandipora had been simmering for the past week apparently over excesses by law-enforcers, and it required no crystal-gazing to anticipate resentment over the incident spilling into the streets after Friday prayers. It is a wonder that this familiar cycle of abuse-leading-to-anger-leading-to-protests has taught authorities just one tactic – to respond with more abuse, and sow the seeds of more, intensified remonstration.
The futility of speculating on what authorities should have, or should not have done, notwithstanding, questions ought to be asked about what measures the district administration had taken to address the week-old grievance that had triggered the protests that were eventually showered with bullets.
Given Kashmir’s volatile and precarious situation, it should have been the administration’s utmost priority to nip trouble in the bud with prompt action in what may have transpired in the township a week earlier. But that applies to responsible governments, not to syndicates running on graft and manipulation.
The Naidkhai killing has again belied the claims of the police leadership that forces have been trained afresh in tackling violent protests without lethal means. The publicity blitz to this effect unleashed after the summer agitations has been confirmed to be just that – mere publicity, and yet another route to misappropriate and misuse public funds. Kashmir seems to be destined to endure for long such political and financial profiteering from young dead bodies.