Vilifying people of Shehar-e-Khas as hooligans will not do

The killing of Ayoub Pandith has been unequivocally condemned and twisting facts will not help. State brutality that destroys the social fabric of Kashmir cannot be allowed

opinion Updated: Jul 04, 2017 16:42 IST
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti lays a wreath on the coffin of police officer Ayoub Pandith, June 23(AFP)

The open letter addressed to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq (Do some soul-searching, Mirwaiz Saheb, June 30) by Javaid Trali, the media analyst for the Jammu & Kashmir government, is misleading and obfuscates facts.

The manner in which Mohammad Ayoub Pandith’s death was exploited by a certain section of the jingoistic Indian electronic media, political parties and their collaborators operating in Kashmir to bad mouth the people’s movement for self-determination, settle scores with resistance leadership and degrade the resilient people of Shehar-e-Khas (Srinagar) was along expected lines. It did not come as a surprise to Kashmiris who are all too familiar with the vicious nature and unscrupulous ploys of the proponents of such comments and write ups and their selective outrage over violent incidents.

People are mature enough to discern the patronising tone, the underlying malice, prejudice and political expediency of the writer who uses words like tehreek and cause in inverted commas to belittle it.

The incident in Nowhatta outside the Jamia Masjid was and has to be unequivocally condemned as Mirwaiz did. However, let’s get the facts clear.

On the night of Shab-e-Qadr when the ugly incident took place Mirwaiz reached the mosque after midnight just as the taraweeh prayers had concluded. Thousands of devotees were waiting for him and he started his waaz (sermon) and duas, and he was there till the early hours of the morning.

He was unaware of what had transpired outside.

In the morning, as he was put under house arrest, the news of the lynching of the policeman appeared in the media, while the police who now say Pandith was deployed for security, initially disowned him saying he could have been a “CID” or an “intelligence man”.

Appalled by the incident, Mirwaiz strongly condemned it, saying “mob violence and ‘public lynching’ is outside the parameters of our values and religion and unacceptable. We cannot let brutal occupation make us lose sight of our humanity.”

To claim that those behind this act are “supposedly his followers” and by hypothetical deduction hold the Mirwaiz responsible, is manipulative, and disgusting, to say the least.

The incident is a low point.

Introspection is needed, more so at such times. So let us specifically ask why was the policeman killed in such a brutal manner that too on such an auspicious night, when by and large Kashmiris are god-fearing people?

Vilifying and portraying people of Shehar-e-Khas as perpetrators of “madness” and “hooliganism” will not do.

The people of Shehar-e- Khas are the worst victims of State repression and violence since 1947, when Mirwaiz Yousuf Shah was banished from Kashmir. For their political beliefs, resilience and unyielding spirit they have been and always are, the first targets of State violence with curfews, arbitrary arrests and torture.

Despite being subjected to such harshness they are compassionate and generous people.

Let me remind Trali that it was these people of Shah-e-Khas who risking their lives saved thousands during the floods of 2014. It is they who set up voluntary camps in hospitals, schools, mosques and elsewhere to provide shelter, medicines, food, clothing and other essentials.

The government disappeared from the ground and was only occasionally delivering aid from choppers.

India has declared our struggle for self-determination and resolution of the Kashmir dispute as a “dirty war”, which should be crushed by dirty -- military -- means.

What is worse is that in this war against the people of Jammu & Kashmir, the Kashmir police is being used as a frontline force in dealing with protesting Kashmiris and for counter-insurgency measures despite lakhs of Indian forces deployed here.

The idea is diabolic — pit one Kashmiri against another. As a consequence, masses mistrust the police. It is unfortunate but in all likelihood, it seems Pandith became a victim of this mistrust.

The police must reflect and ponder.

As a local police force, their role is to maintain law and order and protect their people.

That is what people expect of them.

The anti-human and anti-people acts of some for which the entire force is gaining notoriety hurts and angers people since they consider them a part and parcel of our society.

We cannot allow State brutality to snatch our humanity and values as individuals and as a society, and brutalise our social fabric.

As far as stone pelting is concerned, Trali, why are thousands of students across the Valley resorting to it?

Why is it that even young educated girls are hitting the streets and throwing stones? Are they all hooligans?

Ab Majeed Banday is political adviser, All Parties Hurriyat Conference

The views expressed are personal

First Published: Jul 04, 2017 11:38 IST