Othering of Kashmir: How Media Reacted to the ‘Human Shield’ Video

Editorial columns of most dailies, including those based out of the Kashmir Valley, have condemned the incident.

A viral video of a Kashmiri youth tied to an army vehicle as a human shield has sparked outrage on social media and naturally triggered headlines in major dailies.

Editorial columns and opinion pieces for most dailies, including those based out of the Kashmir Valley, have condemned the incident. Here are excerpts from some of the edit pages.

Also Read: FIR Lodged Against 53 Rashtriya Rifles for ‘Human Shield’ Video

‘The Indian Express’

In an editorial titled ‘Inhuman Shield’, The Indian Express opined:

Excerpt from The Indian ExpressArguments that this was the “best way” to teach the Valley’s stone-pelters a lesson, or that this method “saved lives” as the soldiers did not have to shoot anyone, or that soldiers have a right to protect themselves even if it means tying a man to their jeep, do not hold. Quite simply, the state cannot equate itself with those challenging its writ. If it does so, it runs the risk of losing its moral legitimacy over them.

Also Read: Retired Army Gen Calls Out ‘Human Shield’ Clip, Sparks Twitter Row

‘Times of India’

While condemning the “excesses by men in uniform”, Times of India, in an editorial titled ‘Separatist sentiment rides high even as viral videos put security forces in spotlight’ argued:

Excerpt from Times of IndiaIt’s time to stop denying that inflamed tempers in Kashmir are being impacted by aggressive majoritarianism in other parts of the country, especially in BJP-ruled states. Rein in the vigilante squads, those who target minorities using bogeys such as cow protection and love jihad, and plans to build a Ram temple at the site of the demolished Babri Masjid – because, among other things, they are also feeding a reverse populism and counter mobilisation in the Valley.

‘Rising Kashmir’

Strongly condemning the incident, Rising Kashmir, in an editorial titled ‘Kashmir Outraged’ said the leak of the videos corroborated ‘human rights violations in Kashmir by armed forces’.

Excerpt from Rising Kashmir Too many questions have been raised in the last couple of days about handling or rather mishandling Kashmir, but nothing changes the fact that a dangerous situation is developing in Valley, after more than two decades. Like in 2016, there is a prolonged silence in New Delhi, no “mann ki baat” on how armed forces are given a free hand in Kashmir, not even a decisive assurance of probe and punitive action.

‘Kashmir Observer’

Kashmir Observer, in an editorial titled ‘Video Wars In Valley’ talks about a trend in these leaked videos which reveal the grim reality of the happenings in the Valley:

Excerpts from Kashmir Observer The social media videos have confronted the security establishment with a new challenge in Valley. The android phones with camera and internet have given people the power to record security operations and instantly upload these to the social media. These videos have for once  graphically revealed the grim reality in Kashmir. Government should not act against the videos but address the reality.

‘The Hindu’

The Hindu, in an editorial titled ‘Army personnel using 'human shield': The rights thing’, points out that the act of forcibly using a person as a human shield is deemed a “war crime” by the Geneva Convention.

Excerpt from The Hindu To use a person as a human shield is to abduct him, to hold him hostage, and to potentially put him in harm’s way. There is no argument that the Army, which is caught in a situation in which terrorists attempt to blend in with the civilian population, is fighting a difficult and unenviable battle. But the difficulties in fighting a hybrid war do not constitute a justification for the use of human shields, which is categorised as a war crime by the Geneva Conventions.

‘Greater Kashmir’

In an editorial titled ‘Dangerous othering of Kashmir’, Greater Kashmir talks about other videos that have not gone viral as they don’t successfully put forth a nationalist agenda.

Excerpt from Greater Kashmir There are videos where the youth are seen giving safe passage to the security personnel during protests and treating them respectably. And these have understandably not been picked up by the television channels, nor have they gone viral outside Kashmir. Videos have also emerged of the security personnel mercilessly beating the boys apprehended by them. Again, none of them has gone viral. Among all these videos, only one has become a national news. And it is the one where the CRPF personnel are heckled by the youth. This video has been used to prop up a nationalistic narrative and outrage.

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