The Kashmir Valley is boiling again – after yet another bout of custodial killings of youth by security forces.
On 13th April 2015, Army personnel claimed to have shot dead a militant in an encounter in Tral. It turned out, however, that the 24-year old victim, Khalid Muzaffar, was a civilian, not a militant, though his brother is a militant. The killing has all the appearances of being a custodial killing, done in full knowledge that the victim was not a militant. Again, the AFSPA acts as a shield for such killing by Army personnel.
Protests erupted against this killing, and leaders of the protests were arrested on the pretext that they were leading ‘anti-national’ protests. We can imagine the impact on the ordinary Kashmiri, when they see cold-blooded killings of their youth projected as acts of ‘nationalism,’ while protests against such killings are branded as ‘anti-national’. Such an approach only reinforces the alienation and isolation of Kashmiris.
In a peaceful protest demonstration against the arrests of the leaders, police firing claimed the life of yet another youth – this time a 16-year-old boy, Suhail Ahmed Sofi. The boy’s uncle has said, “The police officer took my nephew aside and then shot him point-blank as we watched.”
The police have admitted that the firing was “in violation of SOP (standard operating procedure)” and have arrested two policemen for the same. But the police is yet to admit that the killing was premeditated and a cold-blooded custodial killing.