Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sandwiched between two guns, Kashmiris continue to die @

Sandwiched between two guns, Kashmiris continue to die @

Sandwiched between two guns, Kashmiris continue to die

Punjab Newsline Network
Friday, 11 February 2011
By Bashir Assad

SRINAGAR: If the attack on civilians at Pulawama in South Kashmir and Sopore in North after the killing of two sisters by unidentified gunmen is an indication, more civilians killings by the militants in the coming months cannot be ruled out.

Trapped in a bloody conflict and caught between the two guns of diametrically opposite forces, Kashmir has been witnessing a killing spree since 1990. Many killings are condemned while many get little attention. Political parties also in many cases condemn the killings with cautiously written statements. Many leaders selectively condemn some killings while choose to remain silent on others.

“The death of two young sisters, Arifa and Akhtar, in Sopore at the hands of unidentified gunmen, has shaken the common man, yet it has not stopped politicians from drawing mileage from the incident” said Wasim Manhas a journalist.

“Reasons, whatsoever, the cold blooded murder of two teenaged sisters is one of the most heinous incidents reported from the Valley. Imagine how the Valley would have responded, if there had been the slightest indication that they were victims of police highhandedness. Human life is precious and if any innocent person is killed, it is a matter of great sorrow, not only for the family concerned but for the whole society. That is why when Kashmiris protested against the killing of 112 people — young and old — in a series of incidents over a few months last year, it evoked widespread sympathy in the rest of the country” Wasim added.

Anyway, the process of condemnation by way of issuing press notes has been turned into a ridiculous ritualistic exercise. Equally condemnable are the double standards employed while reacting to killings at the hands of security forces and by the militants. It is not the first time that the militants have targeted girls. Last year they killed four women in South Kashmir’s Keller village. But such killings are always treated differently.

But, for, Kashmir watchers, condemning the incident with riders, is in itself an alarm rather prediction that more civilians deaths will follow in the coming months more so when the state government has decided to hold Panchayat Elections in the state in the month of April. Compromising the basic standards of human dignity and honour, the vested interests in Kashmir have two yard sticks when it comes to the human rights violations perpetrated by militants and the security forces.

No one seems to be genuinely interested in stopping the deaths of the civilians. Human right violations provide separatists the raw material to keep the conflict alive. Likewise, civilians killed by militants offer the government an opportunity to describe the separatist agitation as a terrorist movement. For a commoner, the death of a civilian is painful; it is more distressing when a common man is unable to distinguish who killed whom and why?
“We have to understand that it is a Kashmiri who is being killed. Everybody is free to hold his opinion and if we go on suppressing the opposite voices, it goes against the basic freedom. If we cannot let this freedom prevail then we have no right to ask for freedom for ourselves” said a journalist wishing anonymity.

He said that hundreds of civilians have died in the last two decades, consigned to the ugly dark corner of the unidentified gunmen. ‘People continue to die, courtesy the double standards of all concerned. It took the separatists 24 hours to condemn the killing, and that too only after they were taunted by chief minister Omar Abdullah’ he added.

“But what was more shocking was the silence of PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on the gruesome incident. She, being a women and mother of two daughters should have been the first to condemn this dastard act” said Muzafer Ahmad of Sopore. Muzafer added when she would shed crocodile tears over the rape and murder of two innocent girls at Shopaian in 2009, what made her to maintain criminal silence over the killing of two sisters in Sopore. “One can understand the separatists maintaining silence over the incident, but Mehbooba’s double standards are beyond comprehension. In 2009, Mehbooba was able to create mayhem in the aftermath of the gruesome double rape and murder of Asia and Neelofer but this time the incident of same magnitude could not impress PDP firebrand who chose to remain totally silent on killing of Akhtar and Arifa” added Muzafer.

However, the shootout at Sopore the other day and firing on National Conference activist at Koil Pulwama and reported intimidation threats to mainstream political activists in Bijbehara town has raised many questions on safety and security of innocent people in Kashmir.

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