NEW DELHI: A young lecturer from Khrew, in Kashmir has been beaten to death by the Army that has confirmed the horrific incident by expressing “regret.”

The images coming out of Kashmir are too horrific to publish, and the reports---although more black and white---stand testimony to what is clearly a ‘no restraint’ policy to deal with the people of the state. Except for a couple of newspapers outside the Valley, particularly the Indian Express, Kashmir has remained off the front pages despite the increasing violence within.

The Army went into the houses of residents in Khrew in Pulwama district, beat people mercilessly and rounded up several who they took away with them. According to the locals the soldiers were carrying wooden planks embedded with nails,and took at least 20-30 young people into custody. Photographs of the injuries sustained by some are in circulation if the PDP-BJP cares to look at these and investigate the incident.

Mangoo was beaten so badly that he stopped breathing, and again according to eyewitness accounts, he was “dying” when taken later to the police station. He gasped for water, no one bothered to give him water or get medical aid, and he died.

Is this humanity? Are Kashmiris now just the ‘enemy’ to be targeted and killed? Unable to link all protests to the terror organisations operating out of Pakistan despite systemic propaganda, unable to colour all the young people on the streets as terrorists, unable to paint Kashmiris as Pakistanis given the statements and letters written even by young teenage girls discounting this propaganda, a directive seems to have been issued to muzzle the protests. And judging from the stepped up operations this, regardless of the damage to innocent human lives.

The Opposition parties have been urging dialogue, and an end to the violence by the state forces. Instead this has been stepped up with the Army now seizing control of areas, with again the Valley flushed with rumours of Army rule. The question had been asked earlier as well by Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in a Rajya Sabha discussion on the issue to which the latter had claimed that this was not at all possible, and the thought had not even crossed his mind. However, the Army is supplementing the CrPF in specific areas such as Khrew where one man has now died in custody.

CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat has pointed out that the Prime Minister in the all party meeting, “applauded the security personnel for showing restraint in dealing with the current situation in the valley. This despite the inhuman blinding, maiming and killing of scores of young men and women.”

The Congress that has now got confused with Balochistan and Kashmir, however, has still asked for a dialogue with all sections in the Valley. Party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad held a press conference pointing to the deteriorating situation in the Valley and emphasising the need for immediate dialogue to help diffuse the situation.

The National Conference has also held an all party meeting in Srinagar to focus attention on the situation but the combined voice of the Opposition is not being heard by the governments. And no longer by the people either, with Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyer reportedly facing an irate crowd when he tried to visit a hospital in Srinagar. The anger is intense now.

The All Party meeting held on Kashmir, with PM Modi and all leaders of the Opposition, was a bit of a farce according to sources who attended it. PM Narendra Modi read out from a prepared text for about seven minutes, after which the Opposition leaders reiterated what they had said in Parliament. And the meeting ended with no conclusive assurances, not even that of an all party parliamentary delegation to meet the victims and all shades of political opinion in the Valley.

Meanwhile, the situation is worsening “not just by the day but by the hour” as a senior academic from Kashmir said. Many experts here who have been dealing with the Valley point out that large scale human casualties will be suffered --more than permissible by international laws----if the government decides to control the present unrest with the gun. Dialogue is what the Opposition and many experts have been openly demanding but clearly this is not an option that the government is considering at the moment.

The problem with this approach is that Kashmir can no longer be occupied as territory, the times have changed since the 1990s, and delay will also make dialogue impossible. At this point in time the young generation is still listening to the elders advising caution, but as several told this writer, the situation is fast slipping out of control with the youth becoming more and more against dialogue.

New Delhi will, in the process, lose not just its grip but its ability to determine the course of action in the Valley. The baton of decision making will pass into the hands of angry young people----and then what?

Has New Delhi even thought of that? And if it has, and the response is more violence that will only still the waters for a very short while, with the dam bursting into uncontrollable chaos sooner than later. As pointed out earlier, it is possible to fight infiltrators as was the case in the 1990s when also it took a decade and tremendous loss of lives and abuse from which Kashmir has still not recovered; it is impossible when the protesters are the masses of young people of a state we claim as an integral part of India.

(Cover Photo by Basit Zargar is of the relatives of a Tengpora youth Shabir Ahmed Mir whose body was exhumed on Thursday for a post mortem. His family said that he was shot dead in cold blood by a DSP rank officer in July. No FIR was filed but after a legal battle, orders were given for a post mortem amidst strict security)