Twenty-seven year old shawl weaver Farooq Ahmed Dar may end up becoming the face of the Kashmiri liberation movement and the dehumanising Indian occupation. After internet services in the valley were finally restored, videos of the Indian army patrolling villages with Dar tied to the front bumper of a jeep – complete with a piece of paper on his chest with his name on it – started spreading, leading to further protests and violence. The army was using Dar both as a human shield and as a warning to those who protest against the occupation. This was meant to humiliate Dar and show them the price of resistance. The tactic was straight of the Israeli playbook, which has often used children as human shields, and even the police in India was forced to register a case against an unnamed army official. But, contrary to what the Indian army is saying, this incident is not an aberration. It is a true representation of the occupation and the humiliation it inflicts on the Kashmiri people. The rest of the world may be in denial about what the Indian army is doing but this video should serve as an eye-opener. Predictably, violence in Kashmir has spiked as Dar becomes a symbol – similar to Burhan Wani – and India shows no signs of ending its occupation or even forsaking the use of disproportionate violence.
If anything, India has actually ramped up its campaign of brutality. On Saturday, police raided a college in Pulwama district, injuring at least 60 people. This led to protests by students all over Kashmir, with security forces using tear gas on a demonstration in Srinagar. The heavy-handedness of the army during the recent by-elections had already put Kashmir on the edge and these latest atrocities may represent a tipping point. The turnout for the by-election was the lowest in Kashmir’s history at 7 percent and re-polling was ordered in many constituencies because of the violence. The turnout figure dropped to 2 percent for the re-polling, robbing the by-election of any legitimacy. This is compared to a turnout figure of above 50 percent for the last elections, showing just how much further the Kashmiri people have been alienated since its latest uprising began after the killing of Burhan Wani. The holding of the by-election, the demonstrations all across Kashmir and the occupying army’s treatment of Dar has shown that the yearning for liberation is as strong as ever but that the Indian security forces have reached new levels of callousness.
The News, April 21, 2017
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