Gone are the days when horizons would mourn and heavens would shed tears over innocent killings in Kashmir. In those days of compassion, murders, if ever committed, were tragedies that would invoke intense public response. Materialistic prosperity seems to have taken away certain fundamental values from the Kashmiri society. These values of tolerance, empathy, camaraderie and forgiveness would cohesively bind the natives in a knot of trust and mutual respect for one another. This sense of humaneness was further augmented by the preaching of saints, who would exhort people to imbibe morality and kindness and accorded a character of humility to the common Kashmiri.
The thinning of this value system is evident in the face of serious criminal activities, the valley has been witnessing in the last few years. These include rapes of minors and first degree murders.
Rapes, particularly when the victims are minors were unheard of in the past. Kashmiris would consider it a biggest sin committed by a human on the face of earth. The gang rape and murder of Tabinda Gani, a 13 year old girl in Handwara in 2007 shook the society to its roots. The inhuman act committed by two locals in connivance with some non-local labourers was an indication of the tarnished social fabric of Kashmiri society.
The broad day light murder of Romana Javed by two young guys who had been stalking her for some time was another shameful act that Kashmiris had to meet in the eye. The honorable girl was crushed to death for refusing the love proposal of one of the boys.
Murder of the city businessman Nazir Mahajan by his only son was unprecedented. The unfortunate incident was again reflective of the loosening familial and social cohesiveness.
The murder of a young girl child by his own father for greed of getting cash compensation is another blot on the collective conscience of the society moored in Sufi and Rishi traditions.
In the most recent incidents of these horrendous crimes, two children aged 3 and 5 were slaughtered by a sharp weapon, reportedly a shaving blade. Besides their mother’s throat was also slit open who is battling for her life.
Change is law of nature, societies change and so does the individuals. The value system of a society also evolves in conjunction with the change. Should these incidents of crime be taken as part of change the society is witnessing and should we expect these on a more regular basis.
Our material growth and improving living standards seems to be devoid of human development. The opening up of our society to changes emanating somewhere else is taking away the value out of our familial and social relations.
Solution to these rising social evils lies within institutions of family and society. Foremost among these is the socialization of our children. The children should be made to imbibe the values of yesteryears. They should be taught how their forefathers lived their lives. Religious education is another such tool by which parents can mould the behavior of younger generations.
Social vigil as a means of keeping check on criminal behaviours is quite effective in smaller societies. But we do have mohalla committees and masjid committees in place that could be entrusted to maintain vigil on criminal activities.
Societies disintegrate by overwhelmingly yielding to outside change and Kashmiris must tread carefully on its way towards what they have named as development.