ML Bindroo was a Kashmiri Pandit killed on Tuesday in Srinagar. Responsibility for the act was claimed by the newly formed ‘The Resistance Force’. Two others were killed on the same day – a Kashmiri Muslim and an ordinary labourer from another state. Except for leaders from the state’s mainstream parties who condemned the acts, there have been no ‘tweets’ from politicians in the rest of the country. Even those who have some Kashmiri blood in them are more interested in rushing to Lakhimpur Kheri to commiserate with families of the deceased ‘farmers’. It is unlikely that the families of killed BJP workers will be so honoured. (Forget about protecting its followers in West Bengal, the BJP cannot do it even in UP!)
This is not the first time that people have become ‘blind’ to ‘killings taken for granted’. It was the same during the Khalistan troubles in Punjab – a few a day were par for the course, deserving mention only in the inner pages of the newspapers. It is one thing to be patient with the process, it is quite another to become entirely desensitised to the events.
The terrorists of this new branding in J&K have deliberately identified themselves as the ‘resistance’ – it is an attempt to be seen as fighters against ‘occupation’ rather than jihadists with a communal agenda. The outcome, of course, would be the same if they succeed. One reason for the targeting of unarmed civilians is the increasing fatality rate when taking on the security forces. Another is to intimidate those among the ordinary folk who do not toe the separatist line. The courage shown by Kashmiris, thus far, through their participation in the electoral process has been most demoralising for the Pak-backed terrorists. It is this spirit they wish to break.
As such, the Indian State needs not just to fight the terrorists’ bullets and bombs; it also has to win the psychological war. Bindroo, by not having fled Kashmir during the ‘90’s purge, was a symbol of the ordinary person’s courage, which was why he was targeted. With the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan, communal elements have been greatly encouraged – even more so in Pakistan, which still has something like a liberal civil society. Ways and means have to found to puncture this false belief – even more powerfully symbolic than the cowardly killing of whose only ‘crime’ was to have been born in the land of his ancestors.