Social media storm over videos showing Indian troops assaulting Kashmiris

A rash of videos showing Indian forces assaulting Kashmiri youth flooded social media on Friday, after internet services were restored in the valley following the Srinagar parliamentary by-poll.

The videos and comments were being carried on Twitter and Facebook.

Several hundreds of comments were posted in response to a video showing Indian troops being beaten by Kashmiri youth that went viral on social media on Wednesday. The video, whose authenticity could not be verified, also provoked a controversial comment from cricketer Gautam Gambhir who said that for every slap on jawans, 100 jihadis should be killed.

Among the three “new counter-videos” that were doing the rounds on Friday were of a youth tied to the front of an army jeep, as a shield to prevent stone-pelters. The alleged incident happened in Beerwah, in Budgam, which saw rampant violence related to the April 9 by-poll, that left eight civilians dead in firing by troops. Indian army said it was trying to verify the authenticity of the video.

In the video an Indian army personnel can be heard warning onlookers, “Those who pelt stones will meet the same fate.”

The video had evoked widespread condemnation. Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, tweeting his shock, said: “This young man was TIED to the front of an army jeep to make sure no stones were thrown at the jeep? This is just so shocking!”

In another video, a group of youth can be seen pelting stones on troops at a polling booth in Beerwah. The video footage, shot by one of the polling staff, shows one of the youth suddenly falling to the ground — apparently after being shot by forces.

Another video has emerged showing Indian forces shoving and beating a shirtless youth. Again, the authenticity of the two videos could not be verified.

Commenting on the last video, National Conference spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu, said “Another side of restraint, debate in Kashmir. We should be outraged over this as well? No? Because Hypocrisy.”

Cricketer Gautam Gambhir’s tweet on Thursday that “Whoever wants Azadi LEAVE NOW! Kashmir is ours”, also triggered a Twitter storm with the hashtag kashmirbelongs2us.

Shrimoyee, a lawyer and a Human Rights activist, while sharing one of the video posts on Friday questioned the “selective outrage” on social media, hinting at the tweets of Gambhir.

“Boy kicks CRPF Jawan: outrage, genocidal threats, investigations, punishment. CRPF Jawan shoots boy in head *Crickets*,” she tweeted.

Veteran journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, condemning the tying up of a youth to an army jeep, asked: “Will any cricket/film hero condemn this like we do when an army man is pushed and heckled?”

International Human Rights activist and Chairperson of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) Khurram Parvez compared the Indian army’s act of tying the youth with that of the Israeli army’s actions in Palestine.

“Palestine or Kashmir, the military tactics of using the human shields reveal how Israel and India, while dealing with hostile population increasingly don’t care about pretence of legitimacy. Since 1989 the phenomenon of using human shields in Kashmir continues unabated,” Parvez said on his Facebook page.

An independent journalist based in Kashmir, Sheikh Saaliq, termed the video as an act of “terrorism”.

“If Indians don’t start asking, questioning their Army over this then I don’t know when they will. This is terrorism,” Saaliq tweeted.

Dissent leaders had called for a boycott of the Srinagar-Budgam by-poll, which saw 7 per cent polling on April 9, and a mere 2 per cent in the re-poll ordered in 38 stations on Thursday, despite massive troop presence.