ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A National Shame

A National Shame

A National Shame LIKE so often in the past, it has taken a blood-bath to draw the rest of the country's attention to the happenings in Kashmir. As we go to press, newspapers have reported that on Friday alone at least 33 people were killed and over 200 injured, many of them seriously, by the security forces attempting to stop people from marching to the Hazratbal mosque from different parts of the valley. The marches were in protest against the siege laid on the shrine by the army since October 18 and the curfew imposed in Srinagar and in much of the rest of the valley which prevented people from offering their customary Friday prayers. The worst massacre took place in Bij- behara in Anantnag where the Border Security Force opened fire on a procession to kill, according to available reports, 18 people on the spot. In view of the very large number of persons with serious bullet injuries, the death toll, in Bijbehara and elsewhere, is certain to mount rapidly over the next few days. In all these places the processions comprised some few hundred unarmed people and it should have been quite possible for the security forces to achieve their objective without shooting to kill in the manner they did. But then the security forces' action on Friday and the army's siege of Hazratbal are part of the deliberate escalation of military operations in Kashmir by the government in which the difference between militants and ordinary people has more or less ceased to matter. On July 1, the BSF gunned down 10 pilgrims at a shrine in north-east Kashmir; just days later, on July 7, security forces opened fire on a passenger bus in Anantnag, killing one and injuring 18; on August 2, a 10-year old boy and his parents were shot dead in Srinagar; on July 1, Srinagar was placed under curfew with the explicit objective of preventing people from taking out Muharram processions. These are just a few stray instances gleaned from reports in the press which, where Kashmir is concerned, generally bends over backwards to present versions sympathetic to the government and the security forces. It has been estimated that since the beginning of the current offensive by the security forces, some 30 people on average have been getting killed in Kashmir daily. Town after town, not to mention Srinagar, has been put under curfew and the security forces given orders to shoot at sight.

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