Outrage for NIT lathi-charge, indifference for Handwara killings?

Basharat Ali
Basharat AliApr 14, 2016 | 15:10

Outrage for NIT lathi-charge, indifference for Handwara killings?

On April 6 when Jammu and Kashmir Police lathi-charged non-Kashmiri students inside the NIT campus in Srinagar, the public felt outraged at the magnitude of brutality done on "patriotic" students. They demanded stern action against the erring cops.

"How can they be so brutal?" people asked. This public outcry reached to such an extent that many police officers took to social media expressing their sorrow and surprise as to how could people challenge their patriotism and nationalism.


In the many news debates which followed the incident, this question was asked umpteen times. The answers, always vague and elusive, kept complicating the issue. There were subtle attempts to brandish the J&K police as pro-Pakistan, something the Indian media, until very recently, tried to pass off PDP as.

The actual reason and this can be empirically verified as well, lies in the training which J&K police go through in riot-control. They are both physically and mentally trained to lathi-charge and shoot at, with impunity, any assembly of people; be it students at Kashmir University, traders or teachers at Lal Chowk, mourners carrying dead bodies, or "patriotic" students inside NIT.

A policeman looks from distance as they clash with protesters in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir. 

Over the years, they have internalised this routine. They rehearse it each day. Since they have only Kashmiris to confront, which they have been told can be tamed by force only, such "brutal" force has become their natural response to any sloganeering mob.

When the situation in NIT erupted, involving non-Kashmiri students, they could not alter their systems as demanded by the situation. They went in and delivered to the best of their training.

Here, presumably, someone at the top of police hierarchy displayed foresight and sent in forces with lathis only and not guns. In case guns were carried in by police, we would have had an entirely different situation before us. Maybe by now J&K police would have been permanently disbanded. (Too optimistic!)


The better demonstration of their skill and training was exhibited in Handwara six days later.

Protests erupted in Handwara after an Indian Army personnel allegedly followed a teenage student inside a public toilet. Within no time, two boys were shot dead.

The armed forces had fired with precision, hitting one, Mohammad Iqbal Peer, in his head and another, Nayeem Ahmad Bhat, in his abdomen. A stray bullet, perhaps wandering in search of some life, hit a woman, Raja Begum, working in her fields. That is some skill, some training.

People gather around bodies of two youth killed in Army firing in Handwara, Jammu and Kashmir.

Next day, in protests following the two deaths, a teargas shell, again shot at a well-measured trajectory, hit a youngster, Jehangir Ahmad Wani, on his head and killed him too.

The face of the outrage over the NIT lathi-charge was majorly a section of Kashmiri Pandits. A Sushil Pandit or a Rashneek Kher in newsrooms and also an Anupam Kher, an Ashoke Pandit trying to reach to campus to show some solidarity.

"The entire NIT has been turned into some kind of jail," Sushil Pandit said on Times Now. He is alright with police killing people outside the NIT campus but objects to their presence inside it where the majority of students are non-Kashmiris.


Their liberal class want Kashmiri students shouting freedom slogans in Delhi booked under sedition. But they feel a moral urgency to issue a solidarity statement for the same “anti-nationals” when J&K police beats up "nationalists" in Srinagar. One cannot even call them hypocrites.  

The Kashmiri outrage over the cold-blooded murders, on the other hand, cannot afford a face. This outrage is conveyed in slogans, parcelled in stones and is directed at the Indian state.

For the consumption of the public, the mainstream media — part of the state's paraphernalia — fine-tunes this outrage into a law and order problem which, for them, erupted due to an "alleged" molestation charge. The police supply a video of the victim, staying true to their definition of what is legal, and shift the entire focus from killings to the "false" charges of molestation.

Many people have given vent to their outrage on social media. They pointed out at the double standards of media while reporting on Kashmir. This question was succinctly addressed by a Facebook user, Nayeem Mohammad, who wrote: "Having any expectations from Indian media to get 'outraged' over the murder of Kashmiris at the hands of Indian military apparatus is as foolish as expecting 'justice' from the Indian state. Indian media is Indian state."

The state is simply not capable enough to give justice to Kashmiris and tries to assert its control over Kashmir by killing people.

Last updated: April 14, 2016 | 15:24
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