The Right to Life is Inalienable and Universal. Kashmiris are No Exception!

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Usman Khurshid

The killing of four civilians in Shopian , in the recent past, who were not involved in any of the benchmark ‘anti national’ acts, is as horrific as can be. Since the resurrection of operation CASO, originally launched to eliminate militants, many civilians have been killed along with the militants during these operations. These killings put a question mark on forces’ accountability. No tears are wept on the killing of civilians by forces by the radical institutions of India, so to speak. The media unhesitatingly casts forces as the heroes. What under the circumstances and conditions can be said about respect for human rights?
The end to the civilian killings looks very far, unless the conscience of those who commit these wakes up. The worst low a human conscience could stoop is when humans are murdered to quench the thirst of the radical nationalism. The rehabilitation of such a conscience is unlikely, so it is up to us that we do our best to defend ourselves.
In terms of the Shopian killings, where the neighboring villages of Ganowpora and Pahnoo faced the brunt of forces’ ire, when a child, some young men and a woman were cold bloodedly killed under the disguise of the CASO collateral damage within a gap of one month. During the intermediate month, speaking factually, the only protest and reaction shown against the killings was a shutdown that lasted for a day in the valley and extended for five more days in the district Shopian (and the superficial call of Shopian Chalo which expectedly never materialized). The same saga repeated itself in the Pahnoo killings.
The purpose of this essay is to ask ourselves and introspect to see if we, as the sufferers, are doing enough to rebuke the worst form of human rights violation committed on us. The prevention of these killings is not in our hands but to rebuke and condemn them appropriately is our moral duty. The value of human life has diminished in Kashmir due to the conflict and the only way to revive it is by mourning every death as our own. Being a natural part of the shutdowns called against these killings doesn’t relieve us from our responsibility. The habit of enduring young coffins is the death-as-an honorable and dignified society that we are dying but not realizing yet.
Every killing is also a blot on the validity and integrity of the mainstream politicians from the state. These killings mean that rendering service and loyalty to their political masters have gone in vain since even the basic right of life isn’t secure to their subjects. For some elements in India these killings may contemporarily seem to be a standard of nationalism, but these defy any standard of morality and ethics, especially the right to and sanctity of life. It is, therefore, incumbent upon us Kashmiris, to take a stand against these unwarranted killings and demand a resolution of the conflict in the idiom of morality and justice.

—The author is a student at the Department of Law, University of Kashmir. He can be reached at: