October 2018 News

An Autumn Of Grief And Grieving: 14 Civilians Among 50 Killed In A Month

26 October 2018
Greater Kashmir
Abid Bashir

Srinagar: This year's September 27 broke the relative calm in Kashmir as a bag-maker fell to the bullets of forces during a midnight cordon in Noorbagh area of Qamarwari in Srinagar. And since then, there has been no let up in the bloodshed. On the same day, two Hizbul Mujahideen militants were killed in Chadoora area of central Budgam district, while a Lashkar-e-Toiba militant died in a gunfight in Qazigund area of southern Anantnag district, and, a beacon official was killed northern Kupwara district in an army ambush. About the beacon official, the army had claimed that he was asked to stop but didn't. According to official figures-from September 27 to October 27-at least 50 people were killed in Kashmir areas. These include 28 militant, 14 civilians and eight police and other security personnel. The slain civilians include two National Conference activists who were killed on October 5 by unidentified gunmen in Srinagar's Habba Kadal locality, three days before the start of urban local body elections in Jammu and Kashmir on October 8. On October 6, a shopkeeper was killed by unidentified gunmen in Tujjar area of Sopore in northern Baramulla district. The 30-day period also saw killing of seven youth in a powerful explosion following a gunfight in Laroo village in southern Kulgam district that left three Jaish-e-Muhammad militants dead. The Valley also witnessed the tragic death of a seven-month pregnant woman in southern Pulwama district in 'crossfire' between militants and forces. Two scholars-turned militants Manan Wani and Sabzar Ahmad Sofi were also killed during this period, along with their two associates, in separate gunfights in Kupwara and Srinagar districts, respectively. This tumultuous period saw at least nine shutdown calls given by the Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik, against civilian and militant killings, while the government responded with stringent curbs in Srinagar's Downtown and a crackdown on the resistance camp especially ahead of the ULB polls. Several resistance leaders continue to remain detained at their residences while some have, according to the police, been 'taken into preventive custody.' 'POLICE DOING ITS JOB' Kashmir range inspector general of police Swyam Prakash Pani, while commenting on the prevailing situation in Kashmir, said: 'We are doing our job in most professional manner. We are making all efforts to curb the (militant) recruitment and are handling it professionally. (Militant) recruitment has gone down to a large extent. We are also committed to tackle militant-violence.' 'UNCERTAINITY CHOKES ECONOMY' The situation prevailing in Kashmir over the past one month has worried many. 'We are worried about right to live, right to dignity and right to economy,' said noted industrialist and civil society activist, Shakeel Qalandar. 'Killing youth in Kashmir has become a full-fledged industry given the reward money being distributed by various security agencies,' he alleged. The situation in Kashmir, Qalander said, is very fragile. 'Every single day business interruption results in losses up to Rs 1.25 crore. In the past 30 years, Kashmir has suffered losses up to Rs 2, 20,000 crore due to business interruptions caused by strikes and curfews.' Qalander said the situation in Kashmir has now reached to a point where 'our entrepreneurs have started migrating to other parts of the world.' 'Kashmir's industrial growth has suffered a decline of 15 per cent over the past few years alone. There are huge layoffs taking place due to the prevailing uncertainty,' he said. 'Kashmir is heading towards a disaster. People are feeling frustrated.' Qalandar however said 'when there is no right to live, business becomes a secondary thing to think on.' 'TOURISM FALLS' The tourism sector that largely contributes to Kashmir economy is also suffering immensely due to the prevailing situation, according to stake-holders. 'Because of unending cycle of death, there is no tourism in Kashmir,' said Siraj Ahmed, the convenor of Jammu and Kashmir Socio Economic Coordination Committee, an amalgam of 27 organisations including transporters, traders, hoteliers, horticulture, houseboat and others. He said tourism is a peace activity and when there is no peace in Kashmir, how can this activity take place. 'Every single incident of killing sends a message of fear across India. In such circumstances who would come here? How can we expect tourists when there is a strike almost every alternate day followed by a curfew? There can be no tourism till this cycle of death doesn't stop,' he said. Siraj said that peace can only prevail when all stakeholders of Kashmir would sit and hammer out a solution to problems acceptable to all the parties. 'Unfortunately, at present due to the prevailing situation, not a single sector, be it horticulture, floriculture or tourism, is able to grow,' he said.

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