Inheritance of loss

Yet another young Kashmiri life has fallen to the bullets of the Indian army. And, as usual, the government and its security establishment has spoken in conflicting, confusing voices. It’s the same story all over again.
The victim, 25-year-old Hilal Ahmed Dar of Aaloosa in Bandipora, was killed early Wednesday morning by the 27 Rashtriya Rifles of the Indian army claiming he was a militant killed in an encounter. The army “found an AK-47 rifle after the encounter”. Then, both the body and the rifle were handed over to the police but the police refused to accept the army’s claim. The police filed a murder case while the district administration ordered a magisterial probe.

The opposition has come out with the customary condemnation saying that the killing has “created an atmosphere of fear”. One wonders how secure the valley was under the previous government, which was comprised of half the present government, the Congress. The army too is carrying out a “detailed investigation into the incident”. The investigations will be “absolutely fair and transparent and the army also is whole heartedly cooperating with the police investigations.”

How many times will the army get away with killing of innocents? If the deceased was not an “innocent”, why sympathies from the government? The government invokes its justice delivery mechanism. But two decades of impunity is too long to expect that mechanism to work

And, Minister of State for Home Nasir Aslam Wani visited the residence of the deceased and expressed “condolences” and “sympathies” for the bereaved family. This mercy has been shown “on the instructions of Chief Minister Mr. Omar Abdullah”, as a government statement made it a point to mention. Among those who visited the family along with the minister were DGP Ashok Prasad, Principal Secretary Home BR Sharma, IG (Kashmir) SM Sahai and Bandipora Deputy Commissioner Manzoor Lone. The minister said “the death of the youth will be properly investigated”.

How many times are the people of Kashmir supposed to read and re-read this shameless script, with names of fresh victims each time? How many times will the army get away with killing of innocents in Kashmir? If the deceased was not an “innocent”, why the sympathies and condolences of the government? At any rate, just what does the family of Hilal Ahmed Dar need after what has shattered them for the rest of their lives? And what does the valley, which has buried such ill-fated Hilal Ahmed Dars in their thousands, without a trace of justice meeting their survivors, need? Not condolence and sympathies for sure. But the killing of Hilal Ahmed Dar is not a test for the government and its justice delivery mechanism. Two decades of impunity should be enough to conclude the mechanism has long failed.

[editorial-Kashmir Reader-July 27, 2012]