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No more deaths, please

It was yet another bloody day for Kashmir. The horrible deaths and injuries of militants and civilians on Saturday have sent shock waves all across the turbulent region. Five militants of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) and Lashkar-e-Toiba including a top commander HM commander Gulzar Paddar were killed in an encounter with security forces at Chowgam in Kulgam district. Since the slain militants were local residents it was bound to cause gloom in the area. What however added to murk was the death of a civilian and injuries to over two dozen others. The killing of militants sparked spontaneous shutdown and protests in South Kashmir, which of later has become a norm. Over two dozen protesters sustained injuries during clashes that erupted near the encounter site. Hundreds of youth took to streets as soon as the news of gunfight spread in the area. The protesters pelted the forces with stones to disrupt the operation. Security forces, in response, fired live ammunition and pellets to chase away the protesters. An official at district hospital Anantnag said that twenty-two injured were brought to the facility for treatment. Five among them, two with firearm and three with pellet injury in eyes, were referred to Srinagar for specialized treatment. A youth identified as Rouf Ahmad Ganaie, son of Saleem Ganaie of Al Farooq Colony Anchidora, Anantnag was critically injured after being hit by a bullet near the gunfight site. He was rushed to hospital but died on way.

The separatist called a shutdown on Monday against the killings. The entire valley, more particularly south Kashmir where the deaths took place, is seething under rage. The scene is reminiscent to April 1, when 20 persons (13 militants and four civilians besides three soldiers) were killed in a similar situation in the same district. Death, whether of a militant, civilian or a soldier, is irreparable. Life once lost cannot be gotten back. Nothing can be more burdensome on a father’s shoulders than the coffin of his young son. Given the mindset, this is not going to stop here.  Kashmir youth neither are afraid of dying nor is the government ready to stop the killings. Without any classification Kashmiri youth—literate and illiterate—are ready to cross the limits of life. It is a serious recipe for a menacing human crisis that is starring horribly on our horizon. It is time that warring sides pause, take a breath and give thought to what catastrophic positions they have taken to. It is not going overboard to say that central government’s power-driven policy is making peace a difficult proposition. Government perhaps ignores a basic fact about Kashmir. More young boys become militants than the security forces kill. Over the years it has is almost a standard practice with the Kashmiri youth that for every killed militant, two or more new pick up the guns. If one goes by the count of encounters and killing of militants in these encounters in the past one year, militancy should been completely wiped out. But a recent report admitted and accepted officially revealed that the number of active militants have crossed 300 for the first time in the five years. But how long this blood-game would continue? The people in power need to give it a thought. They cannot go on killing people indefinitely and unendingly. The separatist leadership in Kashmir also needs to take stock of what they are doing. Militancy is almost three-decade old phenomenon in Kashmir but nothing has so far been achieved through it. Their other weapon ‘hartal’ too has yielded nothing. They need to work on new ideas that could protect the life and dignity of people. The government as also the separatist leadership should understand the importance of human life. Dialogue is the only way to protect resolve issues without losing human lives.