Shopian Murder An Issue, But No Murmur Over Hizbul Killing

23 June 2009
The Times of India

Srinagar: Three days after the Valley erupted in anger against the alleged rape and murder of two women by security forces at south Kashmir's Shopian town late last month, another woman, Nigeena Akhter, fell to Hizbul Mujahideen's bullets in nearby Kellar village. This time, however, no protests followed; police issued a customary statement saying a case has been registered and investigations were on. Nigeena's case isn't an isolated one and follows a pattern in the cases of militant violence, where people afraid that they too will be targeted prefer to remain silent. 'Militant abuses have been brutal, plentiful, and continuous against anyone seen to oppose them. That's why people never come out on streets against them,' a local journalist said. Another explanation, as Human Rights Watch notes in a recent report 'is that there is greater political sympathy for the militants' cause. Violations by armed groups are rarely opposed as vociferously as those committed by security forces'. The report notes that despite their scale and frequency, militant abuses are seldom documented. 'One reason for this is that militant groups aren't state actors,' it said. 'These people can kill anyone any time. I dare not complain or my other sons will die too,' HRW quoted mother of a man killed by militants as saying. Although independent figures are unavailable, militant attacks are believed to have killed thousands of civilians. Senior cops resent comparing militant and police abuses. 'There is a need to differentiate between a rakshak (protector) and bhakshak (tormentors)', a senior cop said. 'If there are lapses on our part, people have every right to protest.' A separatist leader said it was ridiculous to ask why people don't protest against the terrorist atrocities. 'Security forces are supposed to defend people against terrorists. And when a defender rapes or kills, it's a serious matter.'