A Wake-up Call
The violence in Kashmir Valley is not new, but the way 22-year-old Ishwar Muneer Bhat was killed and justified, is a clear message for the terror-apologists who refuse to condone the cult of jihadi terror
Jammu & Kashmir continues to hog media limelight for one reason or the other. A recent happening in Kashmir, though outrageous and barbaric has failed to sensitise the Lutyens media while the Kashmiris need to hang their head in shame for what has happened. A 10-second video released by the terrorists went viral on social media. The footage showed cold-blooded gruesome murder of a young Kashmiri woman by jihadi terrorists by shooting her at point blank range, more than once, while the woman was pleading for mercy with folded hands. The jihadists left a letter by the side of her dead body, accusing her to be working for the security forces. An alibi often used by the jihadists to justify their inhuman, barbaric acts. Such killings and release of execution videos have happened in the past as well, but for the first time, the victim was a woman. So far, the women had only been victims of the lust of the jihadist terrorists which rarely got reported because the Kashmiri women had been suffering in silence because of the total apathy shown by their men-folk who are supposed to protect their “izzat” (honour).
A video of 22-year-old Ishrat Muneer Bhat being shot twice at point-blank range went viral on social media 
This gruesome crime is equally if not more heinous and deplorable than the alleged crimes of Shopian 2009 and Rasana 2018. On both the occasions the national media had gone overboard to sensitise the nation through blame game and media trial. However, the deafening silence of media on this barbaric crime is not only perplexing but worrying as well. Is the selective approach of media good for the country or are the media houses, barring a few, also scared of raising voice against the terrorists?
Kashmir has failed to catch the bull by the horn and condemn the senseless violence unleashed by the jihadist terrorists to the establishment of a fundamentalist Islamic state and Ghazwa-e-HindReportedly, the woman was a close relative of recently eliminated dreaded terrorist Zeenat-Ul-Islam. What is worrying is that as per the police report she was kidnapped from her house a couple of days earlier to the day of execution, but the matter was not reported to the police by her family members. Another reason Kashmiris need to hang their head in shame is, while the funerals of terrorists are thronged by thousands, in her case, it was a silent burial. The entire nation should have been in grief but alas it did not happen. In their pursuit of “Jannat” (heaven), the jihadists will not remain confined to Kashmir only; the nation needs to realise. Surprisingly, none of the political leaders, who during Rasana made rousing speeches and led candle light marches, found it fit to condemn this gruesome murder of a young woman.
The terror-apologists in Kashmir who refuse to smell the coffee in the room and continue to insist that Kashmir armed militancy is not terrorism need to do a serious rethink. According to them the armed militancy in Kashmir is the manifestation of a deeper contradiction that has been thrust on the “political-self” of Kashmir. It is different from the politics of Delhi, and the twain shall never meet. The “political-self” or call it “separateness” is characterised by a strong sense of individuality in politics that has evolved since the 1930s. Kashmiri politics since then under the patronage of Sheikh Abdullah and later pursued by National Conference has been purely communal, regional and a community specific. It refuses to acknowledge the fact that Kashmiri aspirations do not represent the aspirations of the entire state which comprises of three distinct and different regions. The terror-apologists in Kashmir deliberately ignore the fact that adoption of militancy to achieve aspirations of miniscule but politically powerful population in Kashmir is harming the other two regions and non-Kashmiri speaking communities of Kashmir as well.
Violence is not new to Kashmir. But the reins of the violence are now controlled by the jihadist terrorists is a worrisome aspect. Kashmir, as a society, has failed to catch the bull by the horn and condemn the senseless violence unleashed by the jihadist terrorists under the garb of the establishment of a fundamentalist Islamic state. The killings of police officers or their family members, uniformed personnel on leave, innocent young boys or nationalist political workers, professionals and journalists by their co-religionist jihadist terrorists failed to evoke the type of response that is expected from a proud, self-respecting society. Like fish cannot survive without water, the terrorists cannot survive without popular support. The apologists of a crime are equally blamed worthy as its perpetrators.
In the words of Colonel Neerav Bhatnagar, a defence analyst, “Once a society gets involved in supporting violence as a means to achieve its political objectives, it gets trapped in a web, and then finds it extremely difficult to break itself free. The guns that they initially thought would bring down their enemies or the Government and get justice to them very soon are turned towards their people. It happens, because, over a period of time, so many stakeholders appear that they unknowingly weave a web around themselves because each one has its vested interest. So, once this web is woven, be it innocent people or the terrorists or the politicians everyone gets trapped in it. The Maulanas, the terrorists, the politicians, businessmen, foreign powers, media, human rights organisations, NGOs etc. become so entangled in that web of their own vested interests that no one cares for the atrocities on people.” The web becomes exceptionally complex when the fundamentalists take over and hijack the movement to promote radical Islam.
Jihadist terrorism is not only confined to violence, but there is another ugly side of this coin, the exploitation of the Kashmiri women by the terrorists. The key-pad jihadists are aplenty in Kashmir. Kashmiris are one of the largest users of social media in our country. “The social media is full of stories of atrocities committed by Security Forces, but you would hardly find any story of atrocities committed by terrorists on women, as if they are the Holiest of all, Gods own,” observes Col Bhatnagar. Kashmiri women are sufferer and victims of terrorists’ “ayyashi” (debauchery), rapes and gang rapes, abduction and kidnapping, forcible “nikah” (marriage) and at will ‘talaq’ (divorce). In remote and far-flung areas they are forced to sleep with the terrorists due to fear of the gun. Every night some of these women have to live this nightmare, but their men are quite. Some out of fear and some may be, for money that is offered to them. In a nutshell, the Kashmiri menfolk have failed in their primary duty of protecting the honour of their womenfolk. According to reports many Muslim girls have migrated from Kashmir and have been staying with their relatives in other parts of the country. Some of them were pregnant. According to Government figures, there are over 40,000 Muslim families that have been forced to leave the valley by those very jihadist terrorists who were proclaiming to liberate Kashmiri Muslims with the slogan “Azadi barai Islam” (freedom for the sake of Islam). How long can it continue?
Can the rest of the nation remain oblivious to this fact and continue to remain as mute spectators? To safeguard the honour of our womenfolk is the nation’s collective responsibility. Unfortunately, it is not being treated as such. The vested interests in Kashmir remain happy by putting the blame on security forces and thus defaming them. If the Kashmir civil society has failed in its fundamental social responsibility, will rest of the nation wake up and unite to fight the jihadi terrorism? The country needs to be reminded that as per the jihadi terrorists Kashmir is just a “launchpad” for achieving their ultimate aim of prophetic Ghazwa-e-Hind.
(The writer is a Jammu-based political commentator, columnist, security and strategic analyst)