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Kashmir issue and the debate on nationalism
Are we really democratic people in real the sense? I am forced to ask this question to myself after reading the news regarding different videos which surfaced from the Kashmir Valley on varied media platforms and the social media hype that was created around those videos.

I had stopped watching news or shows on television a long time back due to them being more jingoist in nature rather than carrying any in-depth analysis of any given topic. I have never felt the need to waste my precious time on these chauvinistic media outlets.

Although there are many videos that have surfaced from the Valley, it would be better to concentrate on two main videos which stirred the nation. In one such video, Kashmiri youth were seen heckling CRPF personnel while they were returning to their camp after the completion of voting exercise.

One CRPF jawan showed great restraint by not retaliating with force which could have caused few more deaths in the Valley which is already simmering with violence. After strong protest by CRPF, the police registered an FIR against the hooligans and few people were arrested for their alleged role in assaulting CRPF jawans. In the meanwhile, police chief has appreciated the calmness shown by jawans during the episode.

Heckling, creating obstruction and punching army personnel should be condemned by one and all and these ruffians must be dealt with an iron fist. None should be allowed to take law in their own hands irrespective of their affiliations and social standing. They may have had their valid grievances but whatever the stone-pelters of Kashmir did was completely wrong and must not be supported or appreciated. People who are supporting such incidents in the garb of oppression inflicted upon Kashmiri people should understand that violence is not the answer of any question.

The second video which got too much applause from the ultra-nationalist brigade is one which shows a man tied to the bonnet of an army vehicle. This video came into spotlight after Omar Abdullah tweeted this video demanding an enquiry into the matter.

However, there are two versions of the story behind this particular video. One from the Indian army's side which claims that the man tied to the bonnet of the army vehicle was a stone-pelter who was used as a human shield by the army, as an out-of-the-box thinking by an officer which saved the lives on both sides as other stone-pelters refrained from their acts of violence. The name of the person who is seen tied to the bonnet of the vehicle is Farooq Ahmad Dar. According to media reports, the other version of the story, Dar was beaten savagely with rifle butts in the army camp and paraded in around 10 to12 villages before being brought to the camp.

LG HS Panag, a veteran army general with great repute, condemned the incident on Twitter and what followed was a storm on social media. He tweeted, "Image of a stone-pelter tied in front of a jeep as a human shield, will 4 ever haunt the Indian army and the nation."

This tweet of LG Panag did not go down well with the breed of ultra-nationalists and they started calling him a Paki, Pak supporter and many other expletives which are common in such cases where jingoism takes center-stage rather than engaging individuals in rational discussion. @Abhijeetsinger not only termed General Panag as Pak supporter but wished him to be beaten, kicked and humiliated on the streets of Kashmir also.

Such people like Abhijeet who hide their faces in the camouflage of ultra-nationalism don't understand that using a human shield is against the Geneva conventions. Even the Indian army's own guidelines clearly state that under no circumstances human rights of people should be violated. But in this case, it is clear that human rights of Farooq Ahmad Dar were violated.

Such practices might have been common under dictators like Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi, since such people/organisations/powers don't have any regard for human life. But, the Indian army is one of the most professional forces in the world and such measures taken by army personnel are completely against our democratic setup. This needs to be condemned as Lieutenant General Panag rightly did.

People who are asking us to be either on this side or the other side need to understand that such absolutist approach is not correct. Absolutist approach leads to dictatorship and not towards democracy. Ultra-nationalists see everything in black and white and get judgmental in every case, completely ignoring that there could be some gray areas too, which need to be considered before jumping the gun. These social media activists who prefer war over peace should be sent to some war zone so that they can vent their anger and also understand how tough it is for the armed forces as well as for the citizens to survive in those conditions.

By showing hatred, we will alienate the Kashmiri youth further away from us. It is better to have a solid policy towards Kashmir and its people irrespective of whether Pakistan becomes part of that policy or not. We need to bring peace in the Kashmir Valley so that everyone can feel the freedom in the real sense. We also need to disassociate our Pakistan policy from the Kashmir issue.

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