Anger in Kashmir over purported videos of rights violation by forces, CM Mehbooba takes stock
A string of disturbing videos have ratcheted up political temperatures in Kashmir amid mounting bitterness between civilians and the security forces ahead of what is feared to be a long and troubled summer.
Two videos of army personnel’s alleged human rights violations against what are being described as young Kashmiri men and boys have outraged the Valley and sparked widespread condemnation, forcing chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to ask police to verify the footage.
This also comes a day after video clips of CRPF personnel being roughed up and abused by mobs purportedly in Kashmir went viral on social media.
The first video that surfaced on Friday purportedly showed a young man – described as a Kashmiri – tied to an army jeep allegedly as a human shield against stone pelters. In the clip, announcements can be heard in the background warning people that “this will be the fate of stone pelters ‘’.
This second video purportedly shows security forces opening fire allegedly on a bunch of children pelting stones.
The army said it was investigating the video but added that the convoy of vehicles came under heavy stone pelting in Budgam. “The stone attack sent things spinning out of control...it was do or die and the major who volunteered to serve in Kashmir took the call, deciding not to open fire and unleash bloodbath.”
Police registered FIRs in both incidents, but expressed reservations about the contents of the clip.
“How can I conclude it was done by army without investigating? We will find out. There is also possibility that the video was made in Pakistan to fan disaffection among the masses,” director general of police SP Vaid said.
The video caused outrage in the Valley, led by former chief minister Omar Abdullah – who is the legislator from Beerwah where the clip was supposedly shot.
“I understand the outrage the CRPF video generated. I’m also outraged that the video of the youth on the jeep won’t generate the same anger,’’ Abdullah tweeted. “Let’s see channels going ballistic &having discussions with outraged panelists now. Probably not since “Kashmir is ours” hell with Kashmiris’’.
The videos of CRPF jawans allegedly being attacked has also stoked anger across India. In the first video a youngster whacks a paramilitary jawan in the head while in the other, a man kicks the helmet a security man is carrying in his hand and in the third video a group of youth is seen jeering, hurling invectives and getting physical with the men in uniform, who could be seen leaving the place quietly despite all the humiliation they suffered.
Hindustan Times couldn’t authenticate the location where and time when the videos were shot but confirmed that they were uploaded on Facebook on April 9, when eight civilians were killed by security forces during protests as Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency went to polls.
Only 7% of the voters reached polling stations, the worst turnout in the border state in almost 30 years. The violence forced the election commission to postpone Anantnag bypoll in the state from April 12 to May 25. A repolling in 38 booths saw just 2% turnout.
The rising tensions augur badly for the administration, roughly a year after more than 90 people were killed and thousands injured in widespread clashes following the killing of militant Burhan Wani. In 2010, similar street protests during the summer led to the death of more than a hundred people.
Local Kashmiris said the man strapped to the jeep in the video was Farooq Ahmad Dar, a resident of Beerwah, and that the clip was shot at Gundipora in Budgam, around 10 kilometers away.
Vaid said the other video, of security forces apparently opening fire at youth, appeared to be from Ratsuna, where a man -- Nisar Ahmad Mir – had died during the violence on April 9.
With inputs from Rahul Singh in Delhi