Niloofar Qureshi

Kashmir’s ‘Unmourned” Dead

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Two Kashmiris who died last Friday made news. The first was Mussavir Ahmed Wani of Delipora village in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district while the second was a person named Manzoor Ahmed Bhat from Hajin village in Bandipora district of North Kashmir. While the former who was a Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) militant was killed in a gunfight with security forces, the latter was a shepherd who was decapitated by unknown gunmen who had abducted him from his house a few days earlier. Since both the deceased were young boys, one had expected that our leaders would be equally distressed by both these untimely deaths. Unfortunately (but expectedly) this wasn’t the case.

The separatist leadership’s high pitched emotional response to Wani’s death is commendable. However its stoic silence on the abduction and brutal murder of Bhat comes as a grim reminder of the fact that even those who claim to be our ‘true  leaders’ don’t seem to be above petty prejudices. HM militant Wani attaining martyrdom, though extremely unfortunate, was something that was inevitable – he knew it and so did his family members, relatives and friends. Conversely, Bhat’s abduction and subsequent murder was something completely unexpected. And what makes this gruesome incident all the more worrisome is it comes just days after the abduction and subsequent murder of Hajin resident Naseer Ahmed Parray from his house by unknown gunmen!

The police have accused the Lashkar-e-Toiba (leT) for the abduction and murder of both Parray and Bhat but the separatist leadership has chosen not to react.  Luckily, by asking militant groups to “tell people truth about the (Bhat abduction and murder) incident,” Awami Ittehad Party (AIP) chief Er Rasheed has displayed commendable moral courage and shown to the world that there are still some Kashmiris who also are concerned about the mysterious killing of innocent civilians. However, since the LeT has denied any involvement in this incident while other militant groups have maintained a stoic silence on the issue, all one can do is to try and hypothesise as to who could possibly be the perpetuators.

There are only two entities in Kashmir which are capable of entering villages with impunity and abducting people from their homes – one, militant groups and two, the Indian security forces and intelligence agencies. Thus, if the Hajin abductions and murders aren’t the handiwork of militants then it’s obviously that the security forces or intelligence agencies are responsible for these dastardly acts. However, if this is really so then what could be the possible motive? In the past, both the separatists and militant groups have alleged that security forces and intelligence agencies indulge in such barbarity in order to malign the image of militant groups and portray the ‘armed struggle’ in Kashmir as terrorism.

Sadly, this allegation isn’t very convincing for a number of reasons. Firstly, the BJP led NDA government at the center is facing heavy flak from the opposition for its inability to restore normalcy in Kashmir. And since abductions culminating in killings reinforce allegations that the center doesn’t have a coherent Kashmir policy and isn’t in control of the situation here, it’s extremely unlikely that the NDA government would jeopardise its own weak political standing by staging abductions and murders just in order to malign the ‘armed struggle’! Moreover, when all militant groups fighting in Kashmir have already been declared ‘terrorist organisations’ and have been banned by most  influential nations in the world, why should New Delhi take all the trouble and risk just in trying to malign the already discredited militant groups?

However, the issue here is not who abducted and killed Bhat and Parray but that of the separatist leadership being completely unmoved by these gruesome killings of innocent Kashmiris. No one ever had any expectations that the Hurriyat would declare these two murdered boys as “martyrs.” Yet there were hopes that the separatist leadership would at least take note of these killings and while offering their condolences to the bereaved families also condemn those who committed these despicable acts of savagery.

Unfortunately this hasn’t happened and so Bhat and Parray are the latest unlucky ones to join the long list of Kashmiris who despite being murdered remain unmourned!

Tailpiece: The Hurriyat stoutly maintains that it is the “sole” and “genuine” representative of the people of J&K and feels offended when it is not considered to be so by the international community. However, what our leaders don’t seem to realise is that when they themselves are extremely selective while expressing grief and anguish on the killing of Kashmiris and condemning their murderers, then why blame the international community for doubting the Hurriyat’s credentials?

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