In a spine-chilling incident during the last week of October 2020, a young girl from South Kashmir’s Kulgam was abducted from a marriage function by two local youth. She was taken to orchids where she was left half dead after being assaulted brutally. The girl was taken to the hospital where she succumbed to her multiple organ injuries.
In one more crime report from the same area, a teen was targeted and her assault video was shared on social media by the accused local boy.
Earlier during May 2020, a 35-year-old man from Anantnag was arrested on charges of assaulting a teenage girl continuously for months. The accused man lived in the neighborhood and was a relative of the victim. As per news reports, the victim accused the man of giving her sedatives and assaulting her. The accused then used to threaten her with dire consequence if she dared to reveal anything to anyone.
In another horrific incident in Srinagar, a brother hatched a conspiracy to kill his sister, a would-be bride, for grabbing her property and gold. In the wee hours of the morning, while she was offering her prayers, his brother strangled her just a day before her marriage. The brother manipulated the incident and portrayed it as a case of ‘suicide’. However, it was later revealed that it was actually a premeditated homicide.
Recently other horrifying news dropped in. It was about a young man from Srinagar being arrested for running a Child Porn Racket. Not only this, he used to blackmail the children by sharing their videos with their families if they refused to follow his diktat.
As per data and various reports, online crimes including cyberbullying against women in the valley witnessed a steep rise during the lockdown. Almost 300 cases of misuse of social media, which include deep fakes, stalking and child pornography were reported in 2020. However, experts opine that the numbers reported are just the tip of the iceberg since crimes that are reported are recorded, not crimes that have been committed.
These are just a few examples of the crimes reported here. Most of the cases of cyber harassment, physical violence and related offences remain unreported. Rather being audacious enough to realize and accept the ruthless truth of the growing crime rate every single day in Kashmir, we are turning a blind eye towards this grim reality.
From poverty to politics and the role of family and society, there are many reasons studied globally to ascertain the reasons that make people resort to crime. Of course, no rationale can be enough a validation for committing a crime but certain interventions at certain levels do make a difference.
In Kashmir, poverty still seems an unspecified cause of crime. As far as politics is concerned, it has certainly come up with different baggage of motivations to promote different types of crimes since the last three decades—from war crime to thought crime, to be precise. We all know about it.
However, at a societal level, we need to acknowledge the social conditions with several underlying maladies that become a catalyst for crimes. Starting from negligent families to over-all sick milieu surrounding us, we are uninvolved in happenings around us. Drug abuse is gradually gobbling up our young. While unemployment, insecurity and aligned frustrations are wearing out them, we have vainglorious people busy in creating a counterfeit territory through the smokescreen of photo shopped selfies, scenery, serenity and smugness on social media. Beyond such utopian world, there is a disturbing dystopia that we collectively ignore to stare at.
Besides, remaining in a state of denial and resorting to a selective condemnation of crimes happening in Kashmir is a big commentary on our prejudices. We become hyper-vocal Twitterati and FB warriors when a “non-local” angle is associated with crime. And the placid disposition over the “local” involvement in horrific crimes, especially against women, has become our trademark; and we appear quite unruffled while maintaining silence over them. This has irrefutably boosted brazenness and cheekiness in the crimes occurring in Kashmir. Call to mind the shocking saga of 2019 when a girl from Bandipora committed suicide as she could not stand the mental trauma after facing frequent assaults from none else than her father!
Bottomline: Our slipshod attitude brimmed with delusions of grandiosity is going to ruin us. Acknowledging and then addressing the rot of crime is the need of the hour. Seeing the crimes in Kashmir solely through a political prism can’t be afforded anymore. Even if it’s an organized crime which has scandalous patronage from different quarters, we need to look into our core and trace the origins. Institutional failures, from parents to pulpits, are closely interlaced with our indigenous social, cultural and economic existence. Rising crime here is a fait accompli as is the adversity of politics. The time has come to pigeonhole issues and stop laying every malady at conflict’s door.