Let no non-combatant be harmed

Follow the unwritten ethics of combat.

Gowhar Geelani
Gowhar Geelani is a journalist, political commentator,

If one’s foremost line of reasoning is the narrative of victimhood, one is bound to lose the plot. And, there is a danger of missing the bigger picture.

The act of crying foul when you get a taste of your own medicine is not something that people will appreciate. To expect from people to be sympathetic to your agony you first need to revisit your oppressive strategies.

Why Kashmir is where it is today?

Many leading media outlets have reported that as many as eleven family members of six police personnel have been kidnapped by Kashmir’s armed rebels, who raided the homes of several police officers across four volatile districts in south Kashmir on 30 August.

The Jammu and Kashmir police is of the view that abducting members of their families is a “pressure tactic” while some politicians have described the act of new-style kidnappings as “cowardice.”

The abductions, which police claim say is a “pressure tactic” by the militants, come after government forces personnel conducted multiple raids and arrested equal number of relatives of militants in various parts of south Kashmir in last two days.

The father of Hizbul Mujahideen operational chief Riyaz Naikoo was also taken to police station from his home in Awantipora, south Kashmir. Latest reports suggest he has been released.

But is this the complete picture?

In April 2017, the director general of J-K Police issued an advisory asking policemen and officers not to visit their families in south Kashmir.

“There have been few recent incidents in Valley where (militants), anti-national and anti-social elements have tried to cause damage to life and property of police personnel particularly from south Kashmir. In view of the unfortunate incidents, police personnel particularly from south Kashmir are advised to exercise extreme caution while visiting their homes for next few months as their personal security is of paramount importance,” the DGP said in a message, adding in the advisory that “All the unit heads are directed to brief their officers and men regarding the impeding threat and ensure that the life and property of police personnel is well secured.”

The matter was to be treated as “most urgent matter” then.

Prior to this, the now slain commander of Hizbul Mujahideen Burhan Wani in a video message had cautioned J&K Police force against attacking family members of the armed rebels.

He had warned that if police continued with its practice of “harassing and humiliating family members of the militants” there could be serious repercussions.

In 28-year-old history of Kashmir’s militancy it is perhaps for the first time that the militant leadership in south Kashmir has given a go ahead to the cadre to abduct family members of the police personnel as a tit-for-tat tactic.

No sane person will ever support targeting of family members in the fight between combatants representing competing and conflicting ideological strands on Kashmir’s volatile political landscape.

That said, harassing the family members of armed rebels; pulling beards of their fathers; humiliating their blood relation inside police stations; snatching their mobile phones, and detaining their brothers unlawfully is, sadly, a routine in the Kashmir Valley!

Without a whisker of doubt, abducting family members of local police personnel is deplorable. In any case, the two wrongs do not make a right.

But what the stenographers, Fidayeen anchors based in Noida and Mumbai ignore is the fact that the family members of the militants are routinely harassed, targeted, detained, humiliated, and arrested in Kashmir. When will they talk about the original sin?

For obvious reasons the turncoat politicians will not talk about the complete picture. The police will try and play a victim. And cry foul.

Let us begin from the beginning: Let the unwritten rules and ethics of cat-and-mouse rivalry between the militants and police be followed in letter and spirit.

Let no non-combatant be harmed from either side!

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