It is a measure of the depth of their feeling of alienation and victimisation that the people of Kashmir instinctively tend to accept the worst case scenario whenever it comes to assessing conflicting allegations of harassment of Kashmiris in other parts of the country. So many innocent Kashmiris, young and old, men and women, have been so often subjected to virtual racial victimisation that it is impossible to eradicate the inescapable impression that there is method in this madness. The latest case of Muddasir Ahmed Malla who was allegedly found hanging in his hostel room at English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh, on Saturday, has once again sent shock waves across length and breadth of the Valley which was already reeling under the stunning impact of the fallout of Afzal Guru’s hanging in New Delhi last month.
Although there are different versions of circumstances of Malla’s unnatural death and the AP government has been insisting that it was a case of ‘suicide’ there are far too many holes in the available official version. Allegations making rounds across the Valley suggest several other reasons: That Malla had died of police torture after he had been picked up as a suspect in the recent Hyderabad bomb blast; that a teacher at the EFLU had been harassing him and that drove him to taking his own life and that he had fallen out with his room-mate, a student from Pune.
The news of Malla’s death took the Valley by storm on Sunday resulting in clashes between demonstrators and police at several places. This incident seems to have exacerbated the hurt feelings caused by Guru’s hanging which is seen in the Valley as an act of communal prejudice. Normal life in the Valley which was yet to come out of the fallout of Guru’s widely condemned ‘unjustified’ hanging has, once again, been thrown into violent oscillation. There are hardly, if any, takers for the official version of circumstances leading to Malla’s death.
It would be a fatal miscalculation to attribute such a response to any kind of manipulation from behind the scene, by separatists or any other ‘interested’ party. Flare up in several areas of Kashmir on Sunday was instant. As pointed out above, this reaction can easily be traced to the deep rooted feeling in the Valley that Kashmiris are the victims of ‘officially blessed’ victimisation across the country. Kashmiri students studying in various states as also traders and others doing business outside of their home state are subjected to racial profiling and harassment which places them into the category of ready-made ‘suspects’.
Successive chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir have unsuccessfully tried to dispel adverse impression of Kashmiris and seeking an end to their unjustified wholesale victimisation. From Dr Farooq Abdullah to Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and from Ghulam Nabi Azad to Omar Abdullah, every chief minister has written letters to their counterparts in rest of India but, obviously, without any response.
Racial discrimination and profiling of Kashmiris continues unabated. In a way, this obnoxious mindset fits into the general anti-Muslim attitude of security and intelligence agencies in the country. Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde might have extricated himself by eating his own words but his assertion that the country was faced with the real threat of ‘Hindu terror’ cannot be dispelled that easily. Sensational revelations by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on how acts of sabotage and subversion actually carried out by ‘Hindu’ terrorists were conveniently pinned by state agencies upon Muslim ‘suspects’ have been backed up by concrete irrefutable facts. At least in three cases the police agencies were found to have acted maliciously: Malegaon blasts, Makka Masjid blast and Samjhuta Express bomb blast. The conduct of the Hyderabad police in the latest Bomb blast shows that the lesson has not gone home.
It is in this background that the case of Malla’s hanging in Hyderabad has evoked such intense reaction in his home state. It is for the authorities in Andhra Pradesh as well as in J&K to act promptly and bring all facts of the case to light in a convincing manner. Till then the public mind would continue to be haunted by the worst fears. Credibility of the government and its agencies is at the lowest mark in so far as popular psychology goes. The ugly image of security and police agencies, created by their acts of omission and commission, is not easy to dispel. In fact the entire system has come to develop inimical image of itself—some say by design.