A viral video purportedly showing the gruesome killing of a Kashmiri teen has come as a chilling reminder of the “dirty war” going on in the valley. Hemmed between militants and security forces, the youth of Kashmir are bearing the brunt of the conflict. Recently, a series of abductions, releases and killings have created an environment of perpetual fear. On November 17, the dead body of a 19-year old boy was found in Hermain village of Kashmir’s Shopian district. The killing marked the second one within 48 hours, after a bullet-ridden body of another teen was found in Pulwama.
It started with abductions — three youth were abducted from Meemander village of Shopian after which two were released and one was killed, hours after one teenager was abducted and killed. After the killings, a series of videos were released by militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen claiming that the two slain youth were mukhbirs(informers), working for the Army. The video showed militants pumping bullets into a 17-year old boy. While claiming responsibility for the killings, the militant outfit also warned the people that they “would expose more such videos in the future and traitors would face the same fate.” Notably, this was the first such “show of strength” by the militants in decades of insurgency.
“Kashmiri youth are stuck between a ‘devil and the deep sea’ kind of situation where they face threats from all sides. And this new threat is spine-chilling,” Majid Hyderi, a senior journalist, told Newsclick.
Political observers believe that the conflict is turning dirty with political impasse. There is no movement of any kind towards politically dealing with the situation. However, they believe that such an “act of brutality” needs to be condemned in the strongest words, while recognising the state’s failure to address the problems in the Valley.
A few months ago, in May, a video, purportedly showing an 18-year-old boy, allegedly hit by a police vehicle and crushed to death went viral on social media. “If you compare it (the latest incident) with what happened in May, you will see that it was again a teenager who was killed. The video of the incident, where a police vehicle crushes the youth to death, is recorded evidence. There are many such cases where youth are killed by the security forces. There is blood-letting from both sides – militants and forces,” said a Valley resident on the condition anonymity.
As per data recorded by IndiaSpend, 72 civilians were killed in Kashmir in 2017 alone.
‘FREEDOM FIGHTERS DON’T KILL OWN PEOPLE’
The recent killing of teenagers has evoked redeeming reactions in the valley, where people have vehemently criticised the incident. “Until now, militants had created an image of being ‘freedom fighters’, because of which youth were attracted to them. As per their claims, these killings are against their ethos. Freedom fighters, as they call themselves, won’t kill their own people. The incident has compromised their image and people are terrified,” said another person, requesting anonymity. Commentators believe that civilians and non-combatants need to be protected. And, in a conflict, both sides have to ensure that.
As the news of the killing by the militants became public, social media was buzzing with most Kashmiris expressing their disapproval. Some even ridiculed political parties for condemning the killings. “Omar Abdullah (National Conference) and Mehbooba Mufti (People’s Democratic Party) have no moral authority to say anything. In their own regime, they have killed many Kashmiri youth. Condemnation from them seems like a joke,” said another Valley resident.