Denial of rights

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Women protesting against the ‘double rape and murder’ of Asiya and Neelofar Photo: Bilal Bahadur

Freedom of speech and expression may be a constitutional guarantee, but JK government deals protesters with an iron fist, rendering the guarantee to paper only. HAROON MIRANI reports

After a violent crime, the administration usually cools tempers with a number of measures, but in Kashmir the reverse approach has created an explosive atmosphere brimming with anger. Right from the first day of crime, administration in J&K has been adopting the strategy of beat-them-to-submission and in between killing with impunity. At least one person has been killed and more than 500 injured over the last 13 days of protests.

The first thing government did was to clamp down on protests starting with the family of Neelofar and Asiya. In brutal violation of right of expression, police didn’t even allow people mourn according to norms. Neelofar’s aged father was dragged into a drain on the third day of mourning. “It was like we will kill you but don’t dare to protest,” said Altaf, a resident of Shopian town.

Father of Neelofar

They used brute force ranging from baton charge to firing of live ammunition against the protestors. It only worsened the situation as people became more enraged and protests became more violent. People soon switched over to stones and sticks starting a blood stained battle.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s infamous statement of negating rape and murder only helped the protests to spread to entire Kashmir valley.

Elsewhere too, police and troopers used extensive force to curb the protests. The force was not limited to streets only, security forces barged into houses, beat up residents including women, children and aged. Houses were vandalised and at some places in old part of Srinagar, people accused CRPF of looting valuable articles. As forces were let loose on people, anger and frustration too increased in society, which came out in occasional bursts of stone pelting.

Incidentally, whenever police didn’t intervene in protests, situation was normal.

Last year during the onset of Land row agitation, lakhs of people assembled at Pampore and Eidgah, but no violence or any untoward incident was recorded. People came, assembled, listened to leaders, and shouted their hearts out with equal degree of peace. Volunteers lined the security bunkers to safeguard the eruption of any clash between the two sides.

But as soon as government reversed its policy of tolerance and clamped security restrictions, situation too made a U-turn. Without even ascertaining the nature of protests, the troopers started beating and firing on protestors. The government has been continuing the policy to the present day.

The security measures didn’t end here as it soon upgraded in its severity with every passing day.
When people vote, the government promotes them as forces of democracy. When the same people demonstrate, they are termed anti nationals, liable to be killed. It has become the hallmark of governance in Kashmir.

Force on children

Many youth were booked under Public safety Act. In picture a boy vaught by Policemen taken to police station. Photo: Bilal Bahadur

The security agencies didn’t even spare children and women protesting against the crime on June 10, 2009. Thousands of school children and college students demonstrated at their respective educational institutes

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