Srinagar: On Saturday night, Army killed a sumo driver Asif Iqbal, 25, in Kupwara’s Thandipora village. Iqbal was shot dead on Saturday night when he left his home to transport an ailing neighbour to hospital. According to the neighbours Iqbal was killed at a spot which is a small distance from his home. Army has contended that he was killed in crossfire during an encounter with the militants. The killing touched off a protest in the area forcing the authorities to snap the internet. J&K Police has filed the FIR against the Army. All this seems so predictable and familiar. This is how the cycle of death has been going on for the past three decades and how it will go on endlessly unless the conflict over the state is resolved to the satisfaction of all the parties, particularly the people of the state. Another tragedy with the killings taking place in Kashmir is that they hardly arouse a selfless, across the board outrage. At best, they arouse a selective political outrage depending on which side of the ideological fence you stand.
The state government has been complicit in this tragic state of affairs by repeatedly failing to fix the responsibility. One could raise questions about the circumstances under which Iqbal was hit by the bullet, but this is of little use. It would change little on the ground. Soon Iqbal’s death will lapse into yet another insignificant statistic in the banality of Kashmir violence. It will do nothing to break the silence over Kashmir at local, national and international level.
It is a news and will die as a news, spawning some local politics and some political reactions in the process. The death has already done rounds of the social sites but all of it confined to Kashmir Valley, much of it concentrated in Srinagar, and chipped in by a section of Kashmir diaspora.
More than the brief outrage over Iqbal’s death, it is the prospect of his death becoming a data that is chilling. Shall we forget it and move on to another death? In fact, we can already hear ourselves rationalizing it in the context of the new turn for worse in Kashmir situation. And in case of his death, each warring and ideological side has a reason not to be directly blamed. The security agencies have instead blamed “the cross-firing” for it. It is a very clinical explanation of the death. Just anyone, anywhere could be caught in the cross-firing, and it is also not possible to directly blame anybody for it. True, in this formulation of the incident, the government forces have at least acknowledged that they killed Iqbal but the culpability is denied as the target was accidental and unintended. But we can always trace the bullet to any warring side according to our political preferences. And in between them one more young life has been snuffed out.