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What next?

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The situation is really bad in Kashmir. If not more but certainly as bad as it was during this time last year (April 09, 2017) when eight civilians fell to government forces’ bullets during bypolls to the Srinagar parliamentary constituency . On this day last year two videos also grabbed headlines. Of these one showed a paramilitary CRPF trooper being heckled by a group of Kashmiri youngsters during the poll duty somewhere in Budgam. Although the same video also showed certain other young men intervening and protecting the CRPF man, but first part of the video nevertheless provoked loud outrage throughout the mainland, which saw entire Kashmiri people being named, blamed and demonized.

However, when a few hours later the second video sowed a Kashmiri young man (Farooq Dar) tied to an Army jeep and used as a human-shield with the men in olive-greens using public address systems to blurt out no-nonsense threats to others that similar fate was awaiting them as well, the selectivity of the mainstream outrage was exposed to the hilt. Now the same people and same voices who were all praise for the “courage and restraint” of their “brave-hearts” fell silent; some even went to indecent lengths in trying to rationalize it in the name of “protecting the country’s integrity”.

Certain other videos also followed in quick succession – showing army and paramilitary personnel venting out their blind rage on the people here through brute violence. While one of the videos showed a group of troops using violence to make their victims to shout anti-Pakistan slogans, another showed the militants also using similar tactics against some mainstream political activists to make them shout anti-India slogans and announce their parting ways with the political mainstream.

Notwithstanding the motive behind these videos – whether they were circulated just by default or with an eye on some psychological outcome vis-à-vis the recipient population, it goes without saying that they did spell complete lack of the governmental writ on the situation here. All that the governments did was that it made some ritual and token noises about investigating these videos and fixing responsibility and punishing the perpetrators.

Exactly one year has passed since, and nothing seems to have changed in Kashmir. Those who were victimized, including the human-shield victim Farooq Dar, continue to face mental trauma and physical agony and nobody has come to his help. Same is the case with all other cases wherein government had promised probe to fix responsibility. No wonder that people here have long ceased to be impressed by tokenism, and as such, their anger and outrage remains far from being quelled!

By the way, threats continue to be traded in Kashmir even today – both through audio and video messages both on social media as well as from the elaborate studios of some mainstream TV channels who openly celebrate their pro-right bias as their USP. So the net result is that even after one full year since the Srinagar parliamentary bypolls, the situation in Kashmir has not shown any improvement, nor has government’s track-record. Irrespective of how those at the helm choose to explain it, fact of the matter is that it is an open acknowledgement and endorsement of system’s abject surrender. Period! It is also an attestation of the government’s failure. Period, again!

So where do we go from here? Has anybody any answers?

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