A hundred and twelve lives, most of them young, some very young, were lost in Kashmir when the army, paramilitaries and police forces opened fire on several occasions from June to September in 2010. That was only six years ago. The latest reports indicate that around twenty three lives have already been lost in the last two days alone, in the aftermath of state troopers, soldiers and paramilitaries firing at funeral protests, after Burhan Wani, a twenty two year old insurgent, who had acquired the aura of a folk hero in Kashmir, was killed in an ‘encounter’, along with two of his associates, on Friday morning in a village in Kokernag.
Several more people have sustained serious injuries. The body count is likely to rise. Curfews have returned, phone and internet links are suspended, but nothing seems to keep people from spilling out onto the streets, and unlike previous instances, the communications ban seems to be unworkable. No one can pretend that Kashmir is not in crisis, again, today.
The people in power, at the state and the centre, were different in 2010. Omar Abdullah, then chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was offering mealy mouthed rationalizations for killing kids then, while Mehbooba Mufti, was weeping crocodile tears. It is the other way round right now. Omar is being ‘sensitive’, Mehbooba, who the roll of the dice has placed in the position of chief minister now, is ’sullenly’ presiding over a badly timed by-election victory. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was silent then, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is playing percussion instruments in Africa now. If Nero played the harp while Rome burnt, Modi beats drums while Kashmir goes up in flames.