A day after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a hardline on Pakistan in his Independence Day speech and mentioned atrocities in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Balochistan, the situation in Kashmir has turned grim with five more youth losing lives in the continuing clashes between security forces and the protesters.
Four died during clashes at Beerwah, Badgam and one was killed at Larkipora, Dooru in South Kashmir. This has taken the toll to 65 in 38 days of the ceaseless ferment. Around 30 people have been injured.
The toll is now 65 in 38 days. Besides, around 30 more youth have been injured taking their number to more than 5000.
Already, around 200 people have lost their vision in one or both the eyes. And a hundred have been maimed.
Now the situation has deteriorated to an extent where almost nothing seems to be working on the ground. Though the Hurriyat might have some grip on the situation in parts, the protests on the streets are following a self-perpetuating dynamic with each new killing and injury renewing the anger and the consequent demonstrations, resulting in more of them. The cycle goes on.
An ordinary day in Valley goes like this: Businesses are completely shutdown. Shops open briefly in the morning and post 6 pm but even this window is more often denied either by the security personnel or by the angry youth who see even brief opening of the businesses as damaging to the cause of the current unrest. Schools are closed. Prepaid and post-paid phone services remain snapped. Same goes for the prepaid and the post-paid internet connection.
On the eve of the I-Day, the government even shutdown the BSNL broadband internet, used by the journalists to file stories. This has further curbed the media’s freedom to report the prevailing situation.
The state government curfew and the Hurriyat hartal calls are vying with each other to keep the Valley under continuous lockdown. Government is adding fuel to fire by failing to exercise restraint and continuing with the killing spree. This has created a humanitarian situation with a mass of the population left to mourn their dead and tending to their injured. Besides, a large section of the population is also losing their livelihoods to constant curfews and shutdowns.
In her ID speech, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti did little to assuage the anger. She only created more by denying that the ongoing protests were spontaneous. “I promise justice in cases of excesses. What about those who place kids in the front with the notion that security forces will not act? These kids stop employees from going to offices and women from attending to hospitals. They are among us and they are my piece of heart, but what can one do?” Mehbooba said.
PM, similarly, extended no outreach to Valley. His speech stood out for its mention of PoK and Balochistan and lacked any talk of an effort to resolve the deepening crisis in the state. Unless, some dramatic political measures are initiated, the current turmoil looks set to continue with chances of a bigger tragedy looming on the horizon.