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Conflict in Circulation

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Rishita Sankrit
A student at Kirori Mal college, Delhi

What is the one thing that’s common between the Bastar district of Chattisgarh, the Kashmir valley and Manipur? They might have a revered human rights’ activist, a UPSC topper or a world renowned boxer, the only time we turn our attentions to them is when people die, caught in the armed crossfire between the state the local militants. And then starts the blame game. Who is responsible for the innocents’ deaths? And the defence of how there is no other way, but to kill them all. With what happened in Kashmir recently regard to the killing of Burhan Wani, chief of operations of Indian Kashmir’s largest rebel group Hizbul Mujahideen, the country saw thousands mourning the militant. The online social media was divided on what an irresponsible or an absolutely understandable reaction it was. The ones condemning this action of mourning were too further divided into self harming blindness of Jai Hind and logical argumentation. The latter category very meticulously questions what the army or the state police supposed to do when any mob attacks them first? And regardless the history of the Valley, shouldn’t this activity be condemned altogether? Except, the history and the torture that the people of the Valley have gone through cannot be disregarded, argues the other side. For people who aim to achieve the basic two square meals a day, what happens when the state mechanisms abduct them, torture them and treat them like imbeciles in their own homes? The means of retaliation that they have ultimately resorted to is not one that was developed overnight. Some suggest its initiation can be seen from the time of insurgency; some say it began with Nehru. And rightly so, dismissing the citizens’ plight is as harmful and as wrong as creating it. And so, when the State itself seems at fault here, why are we blaming the people who by the faults of the political instability praying for Burhan Wani’s soul, who himself was a victim of torture by the State police? And yet this side of the argument fails to tackle a question the opposition poses, who will mourn for the dead jawans and army officials who were just following orders? While certain actions are indeed autonomously taken, yet they by in large follow the path set to them by the government and the politicians. Open letters are written in this regard. Some are as bold as in saying that if you stand up against the army, you will be killed. They’ve been countered by another set of letters which shows their disappointment in the attitude of such army officials. And so now you start wondering if this still remains a debate between two school of thoughts, or has it become the new ‘prime time debate’ topic where enthusiastic posts will be shared and forgotten.
What actually has been forgotten amidst this chaos, or what state would rather have you forget is the Bastar district of Chattisgarh, which has been plagued by the armed attacks on the local inhabitants. The police attacks to annihilate Naxalites and their violent activities, the Naxalites attack to act against the infringement of their rights. It’s a never ending vicious cycle. Soni Sori is no news, and yet such a prominent human rights’ defender’s fact finding team was stopped from investigating the death of woman gunned down because she was allegedly a Maoist, and no open letters came either in protest or regard to the wrongful killing of these people. Let alone in condemnation, appraisals are also hardly to be seen. Except for a few tweets regarding Malini Subramaniam winning the International Press Freedom Award, the social networking media is silent. It’s not about if this is talked about, why not that. But we notice here that the ‘talk of the town’ become trending topics. We seldom try to bring the lesser known to such a widespread platform. This makes us believe that maybe the tweets and Facebook posts are a thing of fashion. Not for many, but for most.
The friction between the state and the citizens couldn’t be more distinctive if not for the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Irom Sharmila, the iron lady of Manipur, has been fasting for 16 years now. The online posts have always been binary to this regard. Either AFSPA is draconian, or the instable and terrorism prone north-east can’t do without it. This is actually the pattern that has been observed in the Kashmir debate as well. You are either pro-India or anti-India. You are either for the people or you are not. It’s either for the Indian army or against it.
Mostly that is talked about either comes from the capital manipulated media or widely circulated political propaganda. Amidst this you find a few who haven’t succumbed to the lies. And here you see mature conversations happening, which though (naturally) are inclined towards a side, are always very informative and educative to read. So while it’s suggested to keep your eyes open for these individuals and their posts, it is also important to keep in mind that one shouldn’t just casually be blown away by most of the content circulated on many media platforms, created only to manipulate you.

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