‘I cannot blame anybody for the killing. I want to know why my daughters were killed’?, asks Ghulam Nabi of Muslim Peer Sopore whose two young girls, Arifa and Akhtar, were brutally killed within an hour after being forcibly dragged out from their home at 8:30 pm , 31 January. And till date, after nearly two weeks, the shattered family doesn’t know why their darlings were gunned down. What “crime”, they ask, the duo indulged in that warranted such a horrible punishment? Was the fate of militancy hinged on their “pro-movement activities” the liquidation of whom was, thus, inevitably necessary? Had they evolved themselves into drones of Intelligence Agencies of India meant to detect and pounce on militants (who are virtually passing through a lean season) wiping them out was thus “in the interest” of movement?
Pigged in the middle of the two opposite forces, that have arrogated to themselves the power to kill or forgive, the deceased father, nay all of us, from a fat- ridden vale of terror and tears, are left to drink the poison of suffocation and mourn in silence. Terribly shattered father does not put blame on anybody, for there are no foot prints left to lead to dungeons of terror. In the “circumstantial evidence” of suspicion the faces are hooded. That reflects the stink of the timidity of the perpetrators of the heinous crime. That in itself reveals their tainted conscience that does not have temerity to own the guilt. The covered faces do pronounce that theirs is a dastardly act and that is why they want to conceal their identity.
With no charge sheet slapped from any quarter, the victim family is pushed into dark alley where it has to doubt its own integrity. Pit self against self. Stewed in its own juice, it has to taste the melancholic fruits of helplessness. Distraught, they have to mourn not only the loss of their dear ones, but exposure to the terrible cruel wave of speculation. Till the time killer(s) get unmasked, (who we see do not get and are allowed to maraud freely) they have to hover on the inexpressible, inexplicable too. And that is pathetically unbearable. Killer identified, “crime” told, at least lines of demarcation are saved from getting blurred and the victim is pulled out of the morass of ‘mysterious circumstances’. Half of his that has “trespassed” into somewhere else will have all his energy focused on the innocuous three alphabet, “why”.
Let us presume girls’ strands of “affiliation” incited the killers to go for the kill. But was the death the only alternative? Were there not other measures they could have easily resorted to and have their ‘interests’ served? Had, for example, militants got a wink of ‘anti movement’ ‘dubious’ activities, could they have not admonished the “guilty” and advised the parents to make them accountable and desist from such “ugly” things. Had, for example, Intelligence Agencies sniffed something abetting ‘terrorism’, could they have not taken to legal course. Host of other multiple choices were there if only the value of human dignity have seared into their conscience. That they vetted themselves for tearing apart their “prey” shows how blinded are they to their histrionic positions which breeds from the fear of vulnerability.
As there is no group, no ideology, coming to fore to claim the responsibility, fearing the revelation would spot innocence than guilt, the silence of the killers stamps seal to the inference that once again soil of Kashmir has been drenched with the blood of innocent girls. This time icy claws of death reached to the family of Gh Nabi, the poor man who eked out his living working as a labor. And devastated him and his family completely. In one blow. ‘How unfortunate am I that I have to carry the coffins of my daughters at this stage’, he said venting out his searing pain, adding ‘I desired to see my girls married’. As if he has authored his bad luck himself! As if his being sucked into this tragedy was his own creation! As if his being engulfed in Post Traumatic Disorder Syndrome was ‘divine punishment’ for him. This is the tragic extreme where a victim finds himself squeezed into putting the blame at his own door. This is, perhaps, what Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon does and is aimed to do. To “discipline” the people and make them dumbfounded “subjects” of terror – the sovereign. Where Big Brother is “watching” them remaining invisible.
Just imagine the fear psychosis and its nightmarish devastating effect: three veiled gunmen togged in arrogance barge into two room dwelling at night and take away the girls. All the pleadings of ‘talk inside’ fail; all the beseeching request turn on deaf ears. All the whys are muzzled with covers of darkness. And after one hour, the bang of a “bravura”. That flattens the family to shock of never to be the same again and scream Kaizeh, Umav Keh Kour (why, for what?). An act of barbarity. The heart rending spectacle of suffocation. The helpless countenance of the slain girls! Almighty Allah! Where should terrorized, traumatized people of Kashmir seek refuge! Has life become so cheap in this law-less territory that anyone totting gun can play with life? No. Life is all the more important. Life has value of its own. The killers cannot anaesthetize a people who know the value of life. Human dignity cannot so mercilessly be mowed down.
It is time we stop searching for justification for murders. Murderer is a murderer. There is nothing as good murderer and bad murderer. There is no robe as sacrosanct which can wash off the blood stains of a killer. Draped in green, red, saffron, khaki or olive green cannot be a sanction of legitimacy for the killer to open his own court and deliver the sentence and execute it. Extra-judicial killing is a crime, an outpouring of wanton aggression on a weak, unarmed that no bunker rule can deify. Much the same way no cause, genuine and just, can sanction blood-letting of innocent people. You cannot flirt with bubble courts, where you kill and disappear.
As long as deaths remain shrouded in mystery, misanthropes would keep on prowling and deriving the sadistic pleasure on each kill. We have to stand up and press for unraveling the not-so-mysterious threads. After all, blood of the innocent does chase the criminal and sniffs him out of the closet. After all what is it that is so unidentifiable. Given the will every monster behind the veil can be tracked. Our sensitivity to human values calls for equal response for every act of murder. Desensitization and indifference amounts to silence which is invitation for another life to go in drain. So, irrespective of which camp we belong to we have to condemn the killing of innocent people in unequivocal terms. No ifs, no buts. The people have for long been at receiving end of the gun that has no fear of accountability. And which has entered deep into ranks of forces and police on one hand, and on the other non state actors. For the first it has been the lure of rewards and promotions and some overdose of bigoted patriotism. For the latter Azadi adrenalin made them jump into believing they are unaccountable.
Sopore murder evoked widespread condemnation from both ‘mainstream’ and pro-resistance camp. ‘No Muslim can tolerate the barbaric killings. Whatever the reason, killing of two sisters of Sopore cannot be justified. The freedom lovers cannot remain silent over the killings and we strongly condemn the inhuman act’, Hurayat led by Geelani said in a strong statement. (GK: Febuary 02, 2011). Syed Ali Geelani called for complete shutdown in Sopore on 4th February and peaceful protest in rest of the state. This was perhaps for the first time since outbreak of militancy in 1989 that a pro-movement group has called for shutdown against civilian killings by unidentified gunmen. Sopore, we hope, will herald a new
beginning where humanity is not degraded into making our response to human tragedies like the recent one subject to political beliefs.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah while condemning gruesome murder in strongest words accused militants for the killing. He has a “strong evidence”: since the condemnation is ‘muted’ and people have not surged to streets, as they do when forces are involved, the blame lies on them. Without any substantial evidence coming, it is premature to tell who really were involved in the ghastly crime. But as for the Omar’s ‘muted’ response remark is concerned, there is an element of truth in it, whatever the reasons and motives behind. The question staring frighteningly into our face is why we are discriminatory in our response to tragic events. A teenager killed in police and forces action bursts valley into wave of protests, and rightly so, but killing by ‘unidentified’ gunmen doesn’t evoke the same response. Often no response. Why?
Nonetheless, from Shopian to Sopore it is the responsibility of the government to bring culprits to book. Shopian ‘investigation’ proved a mockery of justice. The souls of Aasia and Neelofar are restless. Will Arifa and Akhtar of Sopore have their souls rest in peace? Only Chief Minister is the right person to answer.
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