Few leaders condemn youth’s death due to stone pelting by protesters

The news of 23-year-old auto-driver Riyaz Ahmad Khanday’s death filtered out of Srinagar’s Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science Soura, hours before newspapers went to the press on Monday night. But few found it worth reporting. Mr. Khanday’s was not the typical youth-killed-in-police-action story, but, as reported by The Hindu, he was left critically wounded when a group of men objected to his defiance of the separatists’ shutdown call in the evening of March 8 and pelted a stone at him. He was carrying three labourers to a neighbourhood in his load-carrier.

A Srinagar-based news agency reported the Chief Minister’s “concern” over Mr. Khanday’s death, allegedly caused by a group of stone pelting men in close vicinity of his residence in Mattan area of Anantnag. But neither the press releases of the Department of Information nor Mr. Omar Abdullah mentioned the incident

The same news agency reported that People’s Democratic Party leader Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti were shocked over Khanday’s death and they had “strongly condemned it in a statement.” Asked about it, mediapersons maintained that they had not received any such mail or handout from the PDP .

With the mainstream politicians mum, nobody really expected the separatist groups to react. Some thought they would conveniently put the blame on the Ikhwanis (local irregular counterinsurgents of the yesteryear), but didn’t. When a news agency called up Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and tried to extort his condemnation, he, reportedly, said: “This is unfortunate and we must make sure such incidents don’t occur again”.

The beginning of the Assembly proceedings remained fully devoted to Sushilkumar Shinde’s refusal to return Afzal Guru’s mortal remains. When a television journalist questioned two of the most vociferous critics of the “killings of innocent Kashmiris” — Ms. Mufti and MLA Engineer Rasheed — they said “we indeed condemn it.” Neither of them however referred to it inside the Assembly.

Mr. Rasheed’s “condemnation” was conditional as, like almost all the separatist leaders, he referred to the “root cause” and said that such incidents would continue as long as the “Kashmir dispute” remained unresolved.

Nevertheless, one of the legislators, on condition of anonymity, admitted: “It’s a fact that we have been invariably condemning and condoning these killings. We react as per the identity of the accused. We see who has killed whom. Had this poor boy been killed by Police or Army, it would have been a hell over here”.

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