What video wars mean for Kashmir's future in India
The ongoing battle on social media may build national consensus, but the Valley itself is fast slipping from India's grip.
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A video showing a Kashmiri youth kicking and abusing a CRPF personnel in Kralpora area of the Valley's Budgam district has gone viral on social media — with several, including celebrities, reacting to the footage without trying to know the nature of events behind it.
That the CRPF jawans seen in the video were carrying EVMs and other polling material is baseless. The company was new to Kashmir and brought in as additional deployment for election duty. The personnel were unaware of the prevailing situation in the Valley.
On April 9, a CRPF party of 12 personnel, headed by a sub-inspector level officer, was sent to the area to guard and provide security to a polling booth in Kralpora.
When the CRPF party was heading to the polling booth without the assistance of the police, it was asked by the protesters not to proceed with the duty as the latter were going to boycott the election.
The personnel then left the spot avoiding any clash with the protesting youth. However, few angry youth followed them and filmed them, with few of them heckling the personnel and kicking them, just as few others tried to help them.
It needs to be appreciated that the CRPF personnel tried to avoid clashes, and resisted the use of the weapons they were carrying.
But, interestingly, it was not the only incident witnessed in central Kashmir on April 9. According to chief electoral officer Shantamanu, at least 200 violent incidents took place during the daylong polling in three districts of the Valley.
Eight people were killed and 272 sustained injuries, including 200 security personnel. Internet services were blocked across Kashmir for five days so that ground realities do not reach beyond the Valley.
But every violent incident has a reality, which is now in the public domain, and most of them are far more condemnable that the act of Kashmiri protesters heckling the CRPF personnel in the viral video.
Horrific incidents took place in different parts of the Valley — eight CRPF men were held hostage by protesting youth inside a polling booth in Ganderbal area of central Kashmir and not allowed to move out for three hours.
Another viral video shows a young man tied to an army jeep as a human shield, and paraded in 12 villages in the area.
Here's the video as well. A warning can be heard saying stone pelters will meet this fate. This requires an urgent inquiry & follow up NOW!! pic.twitter.com/qj1rnCVazn— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) April 14, 2017
Yet another video of Rashtriya Rifles personnel beating some youth on a street as well as inside an army vehicle in Budgam district has gone viral. Several such incidents have raised questions about the discipline of the forces in the uniform, as well as the use of mobile phones to capture such acts.
A debate has ensued on social media between people of different ideologies over the viral videos. But the fact remains that it is the security forces and agencies losing ground among the local Kashmiris.
The ongoing war on social media in the name of Kashmir may build national consensus, but the Valley itself is fast slipping from India's grip.
The 7.14 per cent voter turnout in the Srinagar by-polls, the lowest for any election in Jammu and Kashmir, and the deferment of the Anantnag by-polls, may be the first indication.