Three youth found dead in an orchard is too chilling a sight to go unmourned and – in our case – unprotested.
So if Kashmir shuts down against what Syed Ali Shah Geelani puts as `brutal, barbaric and cold-blooded murder', there is nothing unusual about it. His call was immediately seconded by all in the camp and rightly so.
Who were the boys and who killed them? This is the question that seeks different answers from different camps. The only thing that stands unambiguously answered is that they have been done to death and done so gruesomely. The `how' part of the question is clear, the `who' is still surrounded by a haze of doubt. What defeats our understanding is the logic behind calling for a shutdown. What is more surprising is a delayed hartal call which didn't come the day the incident happened. What does that one-day pause in between signify? If Geelani Sahab is sure that militants `can't go to such an extent' and the boys have been beyond doubt killed by those who `killed thousands of Kashmiri youth in custody', then why wasn't that a spontaneous response which was expected to come immediately after the news broke out. Presume the killings are the outcome of an inter-group rivalry, does that invalidate an otherwise valid call for shutdown. What dawned during the day that made the protest call inevitable. A sudden shock evokes a sudden cry. Crying long after you are shocked sounds either a sham shock or a pre-loaded soft-ware that functions only at a particular command.
My problem is not with our spirit to protest against injustice, my problem rather is with our way of doing it. My problem is with a convenient classification of killings. It's with a calibrated, shrewd and at times a hypocritical response towards tragedies. If we are protesting against tyranny, the tyranny has to have one meaning only.
Our separatist camp has sadly been selective in their method of condemnation. A civilian killed by army evokes a sudden response while the same civilian devoured by an `unidentified' monster goes unaccounted. Leadership demands an honesty of purpose. We have to have a clarity as to whether we are against bloodshed per se or against a set of bloodshed which qualifies for condemnation only when one particular group wrongs the other. What if the scheme is reverse. Do we have to change our principles of condemnation with the changing players in the fray.