2017: Killings, Grief & Unfulfilled Promises
For entire year, there was no let up in situation in Kashmir as on one hand the region witnessed most number of militants’ killings in encounter and civilian deaths near gunfight sites & on the other hand there was hardly any progress on Kashmir’s political issue
The new generation of Kashmir has grown up under the shadow of gun. This generation of Kashmiris has seen death closely as violence, threat and killings has been routine. With decades of struggles to settle the dispute reaching nowhere, failed talk attempts between separatists and government of India and the rebirth of insurgency, the anger has resurfaced with more vigor. The chameleon character of politicians of mainstream parties of Kashmir gave rise to a brook of blood that is flowing silently, consuming tender buds, filling orphanages and turning bridal palaces into ruins. The political language of these slaves of New Delhi axed the truth and nurtured the lie that has now been grown up into a giant tree, very laborious to up root yet not impossible. The helplessness of the people has touched new heights, where a father shoulders coffin of his son and an infant daughter wails at the corpus of her mother.
In the Valley where complaints of human rights abuses have galore over the decades the central mission now should be to protect civilians; insurgents should be motivated to shun the path of violence and should be involved in talks to retard the breath taking wave – “operation all out”. Albeit, sooner or later, state government had accepted it, there is no alternate to peace negotiation to curb the violence. But youth are still joining the militant ranks. Although, Majid Khan’s return motivated few youth to give up the path of militancy, but no fair result have yet been observed. According to SATP (South Asia Terrorism portal) report 2017, 57 civilians (till 20 December 2017) have fallen to bullet in 2017 during counter insurgency operations. Civilian continue to fell to the bullet of armed forces while state government is impuissant to seek reason. Though judicial probes are carried out in some cases but victims do not get fair judgment. Restricting themselves to mere condemnation by a tweet, mainstream appears a two way channel for muck and dirt of all kinds.
Since 1989, the counter insurgency operations are on in the Valley of Kashmir. According to SATP, the data reveals that 14,795 civilians, 6352 armed personals and 23,345 insurgents have been killed. According to SATP, 2016 witnessed the lowest civilian causalities (14 civilian killed) in three decades. The number of causalities depicted by SATP is only about those who were killed near or during an encounter. Without these 14 killings, more than 100 civilians were killed post Burhan Wani encounter. At an average, 530 civilians died every year in the Valley since the dawn of militancy. Average civilian deaths have declined since 2007. Between 1990 and 2007, the civilian deaths were at an average of 800 per year according to SATP data. Although the number is less but security forces were also killed, at an average of 230 per year. Enforced disappearances, judicial killing and extra-judicial killings haven’t been included in the statistics. What healing touch policy they are talking of as at an average one may face an orphan, a widow, a half widow or a disabled in every nook and corner of the Valley. If we wind up the statistics and come with a humanistic approach, one may conclude that governments do not care about lives the conflict has consumed or may consume in future. Instead, they do care and care only about geographic horizons of country. They do not love people of Kashmir neither they do love people from rest of India; they only love the power that swallow their pockets and fill their bellies. They seek unity in diversity but they kill minorities. They talk of secular India yet they incite violence on the name of “Love Jihad, Land Jihad” and beef.
The SATP also revealed 23,345 insurgents have been killed since 1990. In 2017, at least 212 insurgents have been killed. The state government has opted for policy to “encourage” militants to return home. From Nehru to Narendra Modi and from Abdullah’s to Muftis, they are all birds of feather who flock together. They easily exploited Kashmiris, made promises and never fulfilled these promises. On both sides of the de facto border, bullets rain down from skies, killing civilians. Why hundreds of people march towards encounter sites, though they knew it is an invitation to death? Because, the wave of mistrust that hover in these ruins do not let our sores to heal. Whenever any opportunity shows up where the resolve of oppression appears weakened, people burst out with vengeance. Killing a six year old Kaneeza was an incident of stray bullet, shattering head of Sumo driver was mistake and killing a mother of 11 month old baby girl was an attempt to foil militant exit. Fragile excuses. The death of the 25 year old woman was third civilian fatality in the month of December while sumo driver was on way to pick a passenger. Almost year 2017 was more breath wrenching than previous year.
The varying saga of this ruined city is not less than a catastrophe. The greatest misfortune for Kashmiris is that they easily offer themselves for all sorts of exploitation. Both the post colonial nations (Pakistan and India) exploit Kashmiris, first on the name of religion, later on the name of development. Taking advantage of thirst for power, India made a two pronged policy on Kashmiris: New Delhi controls administration by puppet government of J&K as blood batch continues. Today, there is an echo of voices, the orthodox club of Hindus call all Muslims anti-nationals and have come up with a mission to make India free of Muslims. Same club of people claim Kashmir the place of their Gods and Goddesses to claim right over its land. Recently Kashmiri Muslim students have been harassed in Bangalore by these ultra-nationalist goons of India. Sehwag’s tweet, congratulating security forces on killing 200 militants, is a total outcome of hatred that such people bore in their hearts for Kashmiris. The recent comment of the chief minister Mehbooba Mufti “Kashmir was part of India and will be part of India in future, even God cannot separate Kashmir from India” further infuriated people of valley. Both ex-government and ruling party are doing politics over issues confronting people of Kashmir for decades now. As well Abdullah’s are trying to prove their loyalty towards India. Kashmiris have been made scapegoats by both the families to quench their thirst and save their political lineage.
The year 2017 was too full of sorrows for Kashmir. The inability of state government before New Delhi gave ample room to forces to muzzle peoples’ voice. India and Pakistan will once again reciprocate gestures on 26th January, gifts will be presented and there will exchange of sweets on de facto border: sweets on LoC and bullets across LoC. This is happening from decades and will happen in future too. Kashmiris shouldn’t be disheartened. The political parties are not going to resolve this dispute. In their opinion, Kashmir issue is a mere agreement between Maharaja and Nehru and they are trying to erase this concept from the hearts and minds of people. Hope 2018 brings happiness for our valley!