Brutality continues to be the hallmark of entire security apparatus without exception

Unabated angry protests
Protests that erupted over the killing of Naidkhai teenager last week are yet to quell with fresh violent clashes having been reported from Bandipora. Things are not likely to improve, even if they eventually end up in the usual deceptive calm, as long as government is unwilling to come out with fair probes after such brutal killings and security forces including police are allowed to use excessively repressive measures to crackdown on any protest. The teenager named Farhat was killed when police directly opened fire on a protesting crowd in Naidkhai. It is yet another typical example of the unjustified style adopted by the security agencies in dealing with law and order crisis in recent years, the highest crescendo of which was seen during the summer agitation of 2010. Ever since, the government has failed to learn lessons and the law and order machinery has not been geared or trained in a different way to deal with protesting crowds, leave alone the long list of pending probes in the previous brutal murders. 

The handful of cases in which investigations have progressed is only due to victims’ families seeking court intervention and here too, in none of these cases, the security agencies have co-operated in the court proceedings. A case in point is the killing of Wamiq Farooq, an 8th class student killed during street protests shortly before the 2010 summer agitation, in which the Chief Judicial Magistrate Srinagar last week termed thereport filed by SSP Srinagar “unsatisfactory” and asked the IGP Kashmir to execute the arrest warrants against two accused cops. Similar is the fate of the Tufail Mattu case in which the court case has been lingering on despite clinching evidence against the accused cops. With such a background of how protests have been responded and how such killings have been dealt with by the government, it is difficult to presume that any cycle of protests can be crushed with use of excessive repressive force. A major failure of the government and its security agencies is that they have miserably failed in making a distinction between the active militant groups and protestors on streets, comprising of ordinary civilians. They get tempted to use similar tactics to deal with both. It has also been a fact that protests unrelated to politics or even human right violations have been met with similar repressive measures, whether it is protests by employees organization seeking better pay scales, unemployed youth seeking jobs or hapless citizens demanding adequate supply of water and power. In all these protests, government has responded by policing the right to protest, which is the basic fundamental right of every citizen granted by the Indian constitution. The level of democracy exercised by any regime in a particular area hinges on the basic essence of cherishing human dignity and providing reasonable space for right to protest in peaceful manner. 

The manner in which simple protests are dealt with in Jammu and Kashmir reveals the absence or atleast dilution of democracy which the people of this state enjoy. This ultimately shatters absolutely the confidence, whatever little traces of which are left, of the people in the government, both within the state and in New Delhi, and its agencies. Brutality continues to be the hallmark of the entire security apparatus, without any exception, when it comes to Jammu and Kashmir, particularly Kashmir Valley, despite official claims of zero tolerance or decline in human rights. This unruly and uncivilized behavior in the name of maintaining law and order or in the name of so called counter insurgency and so-called peace is unacceptable and needs to be challenged without any question. 

On Monday, this brutality once again revealed with not only protestors being made to face the repressive measures but also the media persons discharging their duties. The media persons have alleged that security forces harassed them and used them as ‘human shields’ during the ding dong battles with the protestors in Bandipora and these allegations need to be seriously looked into. On a previous occasion, when similar reports surfaced and the Kashmir media protested, the government took the issue lightly and sought to defend the actions of the security forces. Such brazen manifestation of insensitivity is uncalled for. The situation in Kashmir, rather, demands an extra dose of sensitivity because every protest is not simply a reflection of anger of some fresh event, it is also an expression of accumulated collective anger of people against human rights abuse, torture, repression and arrogance of power that disallows peaceful protests from being staged and offers the security forces and police the unlimited luxury of not being held accountable.