excerpts from expressindia
It is the pent up anger, frustration, and aspiration of an entire generation that crystallizes into a quarter of a brick, a boulder or a pebble. It is a game – of hide and seek, of attack and retreat, of running away from an almost certain death through narrow lanes blinded by tear-smoke, of confronting plastic pellets and live bullets with sharp edged stones. At times, it is a weapon put in rented hands by politicians and even police officials to create chaos or corner their adversary. It is a visible sign of a transition in the contours of the larger Kashmir conflict where young men pick a piece of brick or a rock and not an AK rifle to confront the state. It’s a tool of resistance: a genuine protest to exhibit frustration against political status quo. It’s also an instrument of a conspiracy: a deliberate mischief to create chaos.
In a narrow lane stones and bricks fly like flocks of birds covering the view of blue sky followed by gun shots and tear smoke canisters fired from automatic rifles, making it medieval fighters against modern warfare. It is young boys ‘waging war against the State’. The spin doctors have even termed it as « agitational terror’’ and « gun less terror’’. In the last three weeks alone, 11 young boys have been killed in Kashmir for stone throwing, and it seems that for each one who is shot, two are ready to take his place. Kashmir is on boil again and curfew is the shivering lid to this boiling cauldron.And in absence of the specially-trained riot control police force, the toll in the valley rises because J-K Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) only respond to stone pelting with bullets. And even as the government has procured tear smoke canisters and rubber bullets to halt causalities among protestors, both the forces lack proper training. Tear smoke shells and rubber bullets are often fired straight, targeting the youth above waist especially their neck and head. This has been a reason for several deaths now. The case of 17-year old student Tufail Ahmad Matoo who died after a policeman fired a plastic pellet straight at his head from a close range is a glaring example. Matoo’s killing, in fact, was responsible to provoke this latest round of protests in which ten other young men including children were killed in police and CRPF firing.