Will viral videos of human rights abuse by the military irk the Kashmiris further or create fear among the locals?

In Kashmir, viral videos of rights abuse by the security forces serve as a bitter reminder of the alleged custodial killings which took place in the past decades

In a recently released video clip going viral on social media in Kashmir, three youth with bruised faces are being tortured by the masked soldiers. “Tell me the truth or I will kill you right here and no one will dare ask me why I shot you dead,” a gun-toting interrogator is heard yelling. The clip is a dark reminder of how the alleged custodial killings might have taken place in the past.

Interestingly, one of the wounded youth is asked to look into the camera and reveal his identity, giving a clear hint that the video has been deliberately captured by the forces themselves.

In a similar video shot inside an armored vehicle, a group of visibly scared Kashmiri youth is seen chanting the slogan “Pakistan ki Maa ki Ch*t”. In the meantime, an Army soldier asks them to chant “Pakistan Murdabad”. The camera is then focused towards a youth with visible injuries on his head. The sobbing detainee is asked to chant the anti-Pakistan abuses with full vigor.

Suddenly, the camera focuses towards a soldier, who subsequently starts beating the detainees with a large spiked lathi and questions, “Do you still want azadi?”

In a third video, a youth is heard begging for mercy as numerous soldiers thrash him ruthlessly.  

In a restive region where even journalists bear the brunt for discharging their professional duties, it is virtually impossible for the professional cameramen to capture such live moments for news. Nor, can an amateur afford to tread the deadly paths where death is just a trigger away. So, prima facie and circumstantial evidence are enough to suggest that these videos are the handiwork of armed forces.

Amid a raging war of such videos, the narrative not only exposes the brazen rights abuse but vindicates the previous years of similar complaints of torture at the hands for security forces. Legally speaking a soldier threatening to kill a detainee is a simple case of attempt to custodial murder.

The question that arises is what are the benefits of composing such narratives? If these videos aim at scaring the agitated youth, the fear factor won’t help? In fact, it can prove to be very counter-productive.

This is because, in a land where notwithstanding police advisories, protesters try to break cordon to salvage besieged militants, the fear of death has been diminishing fast despite the loss of precious lives.

Let’s not forget the story of the slain Hizbul commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani. The course of his life, according to media reports, changed in 2010 when he, his brother and another friend, riding a bike, were stopped by the police and asked to get cigarettes. In return for their fags, the trio was thrashed. While managing to run for the cover, Burhan shouted: “I will avenge this.”

The armed forces need to reconsider the fear-factor theory, which is as of now only making Kashmir narrative murkier. Moreover, fear doesn’t work because we live in a world where youth is inspired by daredevil slogans like Darr Ke Aagey Jeet Hai.