At a time when the news of a Kashmir youth tied to an Army jeep as a human shield against stone-pelters has stoked a major controversy, a video clip of pro-Azadi protesters forming a human chain to provide safe passage to soldiers in the restive Valley has gone viral on social media. It is believed to be the first such video of a civilian chain guarding the armed forces in the trouble-torn region, where the two groups are otherwise seen at loggerheads with each other.
The 3-minute odd video is believed to have been captured on April 9 when bypoll for the parliamentary seat were held in central Kashmir’s Srinagar constituency. It shows the protesters forming a long oval chain by joining hands with each other only to escort over a dozen security force personnel to a safer destination after the latter concluded their poll duty. At least eight civilians were killed and dozens wounded on the fateful day when government forces opened fire on unarmed protesters in various areas of the constituency spanning over Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts, which witnessed an aggregate voting of mere 7 per cent.
While some protesters in the video are seen trying to attack the jawans, others prevent them from doing so. “Bhaiya daro mat, aaram se chalo, hum martey nahin hain kisi ko,” some youth tell jawans, who keep walking silently in the human chain. Interestingly, marching alongside this chained-escort, the other protesters are heard spewing venom by voicing objectionable slogans like, “Bharat teri maut aaye; Lashkar aaye, Lashkar aaye” and “Go India, go back.”
In the meantime, some miscreants were seen trying to tease the soldier at the tail-end by tapping his safety helmet, but the human-chain kept such forces at bay. Many of the protesters were seen capturing these unusual moments of humanity in their cameras.
The video yet again showed the human face of Kashmiri protesters, who, as per the government, at times turn terribly violent, being too hard to be tamed.
But interestingly, despite all the odds, during the major uprisings in Kashmir—be it Amarnath land row of 2008, street protests of 2010 or the humanitarian crises of 2016—the protesters largely ensured giving safe passage to the travellers, who happen to visit Kashmir during summers for the annual darshan at the cave shrine of Lord Shiva.
This April, amid a fresh spell of protests that left at least 10 dead within a fortnight, the situation continues to be edgy with the use of a civilian as a human shield by the Army has stoked a fresh controversy with many in the government defending the stand saying: Everything is fair in love and war!