Post-Pulwama, as roaring aircrafts, additional forces and free convoy movements became new ominous signs in the valley, a sense of siege spiralled. Now, as the three viral videos show, such measures have only increased resentment in Kashmir.
Shot somewhere on a Kashmir highway, a video shows the neo-stringent security orders being implemented with military force.
A group of government employees can be seen entering into arguments with army men after being barred to travel on highway—during official hours—in wake of convoy movement.
The agitated people dare the army men to open fire, for they “are done with this oppression now”. But the government gunmen seem in no mood to relent, while enforcing the order taken soon after the Pulwama highway bombing.
The military exercise bars civilian movement during convoys. While the ill-timing of these movements has already messed up with the official work hours in the valley, it has once again reaffirmed the local belief that civilian affairs hardly matter, when it comes to uphold the military morale in the valley.
Home minister of India, Rajnath Singh who visited the valley a day after the highway attack took this civilian curtailing move as the first action against the attack, and thereby pushed the valley back to nineties.
Then, as now, Kashmiris had to fall in lines on thoroughfares, in order to pave way to military, paramilitary convoys.
Another video shows a man running towards hospital, carrying a sick, female patient in his lap near Srinagar’s Iqbal Park.
In some other part of the world, the video might’ve trended, for its sheer portrayal of helpless, yet heartbreaking tragedy. But in Kashmir, it just gave a glimpse of everyday life, where, once again, the movement of convoy forced a civilian to take a desperate step to save the life of his kin.
This video surfaced on social media at a time when ambulance drivers and healthcare workers are already expressing their resentment against the new traffic-regulating advisory.
Yet another video surfaces from Srinagar’s Lal Chowk, where paramilitary men can be seen involved in a heated exchange with a traffic cop and locals. The way one irate trooper wields a stick in full public gaze makes the entire conduct controversial.
In past, the traders had spoken about the “unnecessary” presence of paramilitary footprints in the trade-heartland. Some of them had even argued that the very presence of these troops in civilian areas “tend to derail a sense of normalcy”.
These three viral videos have a common pattern — the growing security hassles in civilian areas and affairs.
In fact, the last 30 years of overwhelming situation has thrown number of stalking security symbols in the valley. While the erstwhile popular hangout places like cinemas were turned into torture centres at the very onset, the hotels overnight became camps and barracks.
After manicured face-lifting of summer capital for sightseers and tourists some years ago, the bygone symbols—bunkers and pickets—have returned to chagrin of the battered community lately.
In recent times, while many new camps have come up in south Kashmir in a bid to enforce calm, the relatively unruffled parts of Srinagar have witnessed return of roadside drop-gates and stringent checkpoints.
While the authorities justify such moves as “security driven”, it is, at the same time, creating a siege-like sense and resentment. Even the former bureaucrat and now politician, Shah Faesal spoke about the invasive “siege-like sense” in the valley lately.
Rather than executing the phase-wise demilitarisation exercise for restoring some sense of normalcy in the valley, the government of the day still believes in the idea of turning civilian places into fortress — the idea which has backfired in past.
And therefore, the need of an hour is to give a peace a chance and send these troopers at their right places, without pitting them against the besieged community.