By Arun Joshi
The killing of a policeman at the hands of a pistol-wielding militant in a congested lane in Khanyar area of the summer capital of Srinagar on Sunday has set off a mood of grief across the Valley, and it was perhaps for the first time in the history of Kashmir when thousands of people attended the funeral of the deceased policeman This was a clear defiance against the ways of militants in killing the innocent people as it also manifested simmering anger against the forces of violence in Kashmir.
Sub Inspector Arshid Mir of Jammu and Kashmir police was shot from a point-blank range in the market area on Sunday afternoon. The militant came from behind the police officer and pumped two bullets into his head. It stirred panic among the bystanders. Some of them ran in panic fearing that the militant might kill more, but soon thereafter, they ran toward Arshid who had fallen on the roadside in a critically injured condition. He was lifted and shifted to hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. Later, his body was taken to his village Kalmoona in Kupwara district of north-west Kashmir, about 110 kms from Srinagar. The whole village started wailing. If thousands of men were at the funeral, hundreds of women had gathered at the house of the police officer to voice their solidarity with the deceased and his family. This showed that the mood in Kashmir was changing – it was turning against the men perpetuating violence. On a larger canvas, it was a message to the militants that they would not accept any Taliban-style executions.
It was not a coincidence that such a big procession marked the last rites of the police officer who was shot dead by militant at a time when there is intense talk that Kashmir may import Taliban-style ideology of brutalities and violence. Those attending the funeral procession delivered a stunning message to the Taliban and its supporters that Kashmir will rise in revolt against such forces.
Such killings have taken place in different parts of Kashmir for the past over several years. There were wreath laying ceremonies and the bodies used to be handed over to their family members for last rites . Funeral processions of varying sizes would take place to say goodbye to the killed policemen. Director General of Police Dilbag Singh led the wreath laying ceremony and promised that the “ perpetrators of the crime will be brought to justice”. The J&K police chief has lived up to his word as many assailants of the policemen and other innocent political workers and civilians have either been eliminated or captured. The police have achieved tremendous successes against terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. More than 100 militants have been killed this year so far.
The anti-terrorism operations in which the J&K police has played a front line rile from gathering the information to leading the gun fight against the militants, wherever, it became inevitable, has placed its men on the target list of the militants. The success of police means death knell not only for militants but also militancy because the police knows the terrain, social make up of Kashmir and the areas where militants find their ground. This has become an eyesore for militants and their mentors across the border. Thus, the militants follow the Pakistani directions to target the policemen in selective manner to distract them from the anti-militancy operations. But the police have gone more aggressively against the armed militants who refuse to give up their violent methodology.
This late-night burial of Arshid Mir left several messages in its trail. The people were not scared to be seen in the funeral procession of the police officer who was shot dead by militants. It was a clear demonstration of defiance and anger against the militants – the message being that if you ( militants) have killed him, here we are his pall-bearers. There was a clear show of solidarity that the people stands with the police. Many among the mourners were recording the size of the funeral procession and the last rites for their memory and to tell fellow Kashmiris that how they stood on the side of those who sacrifice their lives for peace.
Attitudes are changing. People in Kashmir know that who the killers are, and who are responsible for all the bloodshed that they have seen all these years. Now they know that time has come for them to take side against the militants who have wrecked their peace and killed innocent people.
There was not a single leader in Kashmir who did not register his condemnation of the violent death of the police official. It was not for the political reasons, but a genuine outpouring of grief and anger over what was happening in the Valley. They were articulating the simmering anger of the people over such killings and at the same time they were telling militants that such violent ideology is not only unacceptable but also that they would have to mend their ways if Kashmir is to be secured from the evil influences of the Taliban’s brutality.
About the Author:
Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, and The Tribune. He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.
This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with it.