Jungle Rule

Cover-Page-PheranIn November 2012, the surfacing of a video footage from South Kashmir’s apple bowl Shopian, in which an angry mob was allegedly trying to set afire a wild bear who has strayed into the village, made Indian media term all Kashmiris as barbarians. The footage was played endlessly on news channels to prove the point that Kashmiris have no mercy for wildlife. It attracted panel discussions on almost all channels. The panellists discussed at length how people mobbed a poor soul and tried to torch him alive. One of the panellists, who seemed to have some special love for Kashmiris, went to the extent that he didn’t shy from calling all natives barbarians. How can a human being kill a harmless animal in such a manner? He asked the moderator with a look of puzzle on his be-spectacled face. The issue was sensationalised to an extent that state’s forest minister had to order a formal enquiry into the incident. What happens to such enquiries is altogether a different debate. Let us save it for some other time. Despite forest minsters assurance that an impartial enquiry would be carried out, news anchor was not satisfied at all. He demanded immediate action. Maybe he wanted the forest minster to extend his jurisdiction and declare all Kashmiris as threat to wildlife.  On February 2014, in a small village called Khewan which borders Kulgam and Islamabad district, army shot dead a leopard which had strayed into the area and attacked six men. The incident too was caught on video camera showing an army person shooting the poor creature from point blank range and killing it instantly. It was equally gruesome. There were around a dozen army men perfecting their shooting skills as villagers looked helplessly. No one from the crowed dared to stop the trigger happy men who pumped bullet after bullet in leopard’s colourful belly even after he was dead and out.  The next day, barring one Indian news channel, no one cared to even mention the incident. There were no panel discussions. There was nobody asking for a formal enquiry. Nobody questioned army as why they killed the poor creature in such an inhumane nature. The news died its natural death within a day’s time as Bollywood stars ruled the airwaves. There were no fingers pointed this time as the perpetrators of crime were not barbaric Kashmiris but army.  One of the leading New Delhi based English newspaper reported the incident like this: Army kills leopard after it hurts six. Once again army has come to peoples rescue in Kashmir! In Shopian incident Indian news channels have forgotten to mention that at any given time 10 per cent beds in Srinagar’s main hospitals are occupied by people mauled by bears. But this does not justify the act of trying to set a wild animal on fire. Neither can anything justify army act where they killed a leopard in cold blood.

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