Kashmir’s worst sufferers

Syed Ali Safvi

Srinagar, Aug 5: A young boy, amid a huge gathering of mourners, waving a green flag, at Martyrs’ grave yard at Eid Gah, during funeral procession of one of the slain youth on Wednesday evening, was vociferously chanting pro-freedom slogans. He is not alone in demanding freedom, but there are hundreds and thousands of young Kashmiris, aged between 8 to 25 years, who take to the battered streets of Kashmir day in and day out to went their pent up anger against, what they say, “reign of terror unleashed by the men in uniform.”

Irrespective of whether they resort to stone pelting or not, the children of conflict have become the worst sufferers of the ongoing unrest that has so far claimed nearly 50 young lives and maimed over 100 for life.

Significantly, according to eye witness, major chunk of youth who take to the streets are the children or relatives of either slain militants or of those persons who have disappeared in the police custody.

“In the present crisis, they see an opportunity to settle scores,” says an elderly person, part of a protest demonstration.

“There is no denying the fact that children whose relatives/parents come under the line of fire often find their economic/ social security reduces,” says Sameer Bhat, Kashmiri’s wildly-read blogger and freelance journalist face in middle East. “This also leads to a break down of community trust”.

The ongoing unrest has so far consumed many a young life. Nine-year old, Sameer Ahmed Rah, who was beaten to death by the men in uniform, is the youngest causality. The spine-chilling eye-witness account of Rah’s killing can give any one goose pimples. According to the eye witness, Rah, a resident of Sheikh Dawood colony Batmaloo, was first chased by police and CRPF personnel and then beaten to pulp.

“I saw them kicking his head several times after forcing a stick down his throat,” he says.

There are tens of children, injured in the clashes, under going treatment in various hospitals in Srinagar. The condition of some of them is said to be critical. Almost all of them have been hit by bullets.

Sameer Bhat believes that children are facing worst kind of conflict.
“Children in Kashmir are victims of the conflict than ever before. So many children are directly affected by violence simply because of the social milieu they come from. They inherited scars of war which leave very awkward impression on their minds,” he says.

The current cycle of agitation started when Tufail Ahmed Mattoo, 17, was killed after he was hit by a teargas shell at Ghani Stadium in Rajouri Kadal while coming back from his tuition.

“Don’t forget this is the generation which has been brought up in conflict situation. They are not afraid of bullets,” says a political observer. “They have seen blood flowing like water here.”

He thinks it will not be easy for New Delhi and the State government to contain the young protesters.

“They don’t carry weapon. Their only weapons is their unflinching resolve and commitment, he says,

Kashmir has been on boil for the last 54 days. From north to south the Valley has been seething with anger. The rage of people can be gauged from a range of slogans reverberating through the Valley.

“This generation has seen it all. They were born and grew up under the shadow of gun,” says Suhail Bashir, a local.

“Force cannot stop or win over them, they have already lost much and it seems as if they have nothing to lose. They don’t care about their lives.”

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