June 29, 2017

Iran’s Khamenei names Kashmir, calls for jihad

Even before the holy month of Ramzan could conclude and Eid spread its munificent blessings over the vale of Kashmir, a deputy superintendent of the Jammu & Kashmir police was stripped, brutally assaulted and killed on the premises of the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar. Just as the faithful had gathered to mark the Shab-e-Qadr or the Night of Power, Mohammed Ayub Pandith’s body was dragged out of the mosque and dumped in a drain.

Only six weeks ago, on May 10, Lt Ummer Fayaz was abducted by militants and killed in Shopian district. Even as the pall-bearers carried the dead body of the slain soldier to a nearby orchard, the mourners talked in whispers about the marks of torture on Ummer’s back, his broken jaw, broken ankles, his missing teeth, and the bruises and cuts on his body.

The lynching and the gruesome murder of both these officers made the nation recoil in horror. Justified outrage and calls for retribution filled the airwaves.

Growing up on the front lines of another battle against terror, this time in Punjab in the 1980s, and having lost a parent to the depredations of that ghastly violence, the ongoing violence in Jammu & Kashmir is but a sickeningly familiar story of the brutalization and dehumanization of society’s psyche brought about by the cycle of violence.

Perhaps, we should try and imagine the mindset of a child who was born in 1990 in Kashmir and is today 27 years old. All that he has seen in his life are curfews, cordon and search operations, stone pelting, enforced disappearances, and torture and fake/real encounter killings. For him, violence is the new normal. The face of the Indian state is someone clad in olive green or khaki carrying an AK-47, kicking the front door down. This is the dominant narrative in any militancy-prone, terror-infested, freedom-struggle area –- give it the label of your choice.

In such an environment of fear, terror, intimidation, coercion and death lurking around the next corner, it is easy for the likes of Burhan Wani to become folk heroes and legends. As the ‘Washington Post’ said about him “Burhan Wani was just 22 when he died, but he was already a folk hero to many in Indian-administered Kashmir. The telegenic insurgent — a leader of a group designated a foreign terrorist organisation by the State Department — played his social media persona to the hilt, mugging for pictures with automatic weapons and posting videos on WhatsApp and Facebook exhorting other men to join the separatist cause. He also threatened attacks on police convoys and military housing


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