A photo showing a three-year old child sitting on his grandpa’s corpse in Sopore town of Indian-administered Kashmir has outraged residents of the region with the family of the deceased accusing the security forces of killing the 65-year old civilian Bashir Ahmed Khan during a clash with the rebels in the world’s most militarized region.
Soon after Ahmed’s death, the photos of his grandson from the encounter site flooded the internet, including a heart-rending shot showing the child sitting and crying on top of his grandfather’s corpse.
A series of pictures by an unidentified person were widely shared on social media shortly after the gun battle. Hundreds of angry people staged anti-India protests, accusing the government forces of using the child’s images as PR stunt. Social media users also slammed a viral video that purportedly showed a member of the security forces standing over Ahmed’s dead body.
Suhail Ahmed, the victim’s son, said on Thursday that his father, Bashir Ahmed Khan (deceased), was “dragged out of his car and shot in cold blood” in front of his 3-year-old grandson during a gun battle on Wednesday between Indian troops and rebels in northwestern Sopore town. He said troops later placed the child on his father’s chest and reportedly took pictures.
Ahmed’s family has released a video message on social media, accusing Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel of dragging him out of his car and shooting him at point blank range, the Jammu & Kashmir Police denied the claims and said he died in the exchange of fire with rebels. The family said the man was a small-time petty employee who earned 6,000 rupees ($80) per month.
While this photo triggered an uproar on social media, with individuals online demanding justice for the family, accusing security forces for placing a 3-year old at the center of a propaganda war and doing theatrics and PR stunts with 3-year old life. The right-wing and the ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were busy mocking the picture of dead civilians. A spokesman for India’s ruling Hindu nationalist BJP faced criticism for mocking the picture of the dead civilian.
The right-wing and BJP IT Cell were glorifying the Indian Army for saving the toddler, demeaning the opposition leaders, accusing Pakistan of sponsoring the rebels, accusing leftists of white-washing the terror acts of militants, calling out Islamic-Jihad and terrorism, with anti-Muslim bigots hawking hate against Muslims and spitting their regular communal hatred. But nowhere showing a grain of humanity for the dead civilian and his 3 year old grandson who witnessed such an incident. For them such incidents are all about political gains and demonizing the opposition.
Hundreds of people in Kashmir staged protests on Wednesday in the wake of the killing. Later on Wednesday, hundreds assembled at the man’s funeral near Srinagar, shouting “We want freedom.”
The Fourth of July is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It’s what some may call an “American tradition” to jubilantly celebrate the day with firework shows, barbecues, and red, white, and blue printed everything. But for any American that doesn’t benefit from the privilege of a typical White identity, the day leaves a bitter after taste.
why would we celebrate 4th of July when All Days Matter?
As a Muslim woman, the claim of “independence” is incredulous to me. Independence in my definition does not include unrightful surveillance. It does not include the invasive procedures taken every time I enter an airport to ensure that my Muslim-ness doesn’t pose a threat to travelers. Independence is never in the sense of stolen autonomy that swells every time a Muslim woman’s hijab is torn from her head. There is no independence in the shame little Muslim boys feel when slurs are hurled at them in schools that are supposed to keep them safe. There was never independence in the bound hands of a Muslim man being deported to a land he’s never stepped foot in when he has every right to this “land of the free.” Does the independence garnered from Britain over 200 years ago still hold true for Americans today? I think not.
How can I take part in showcasing patriotism for this country when it does not guarantee safety for my Black brothers and sisters just trying to go for a run, reach for a wallet, or wear a black hoodie? Is it even morally acceptable to celebrate a country in a time when its leaders are okay with denying the sanctity of childrens’ lives simply because they were not born within the same borders? I don’t think so. There was no independence in the death of another Black man denied his right to live. There will never be independence in a mother’s cries for her baby as they are pulled away from each other. If there is independence in the ear splitting shriek of schoolchildren hiding behind textbooks with the barrel of a gun staring them down, then it’s not an independence I am willing to take pride in.
I yearn for the day that I can wear this country’s colors knowing that all its citizens are safe and valued. But that day is not today, nor can I see it in the near future. I want to raise my children in a country that goes out of its way to make sure they know that they are welcome too, in all their Muslim glory. I want to live in a country that will celebrate my veteran father regardless of his olive complexion and Muslim name. I want to celebrate a country that takes accountability for its past and strives to make up for it through more than just empty apologies and false promises for a better future.
Take a look around you.: Is this the country your ancestors were dreaming of when they decided to take a chance at a better life? Does this country fight for all of your friends and family? This 4th of July weekend, don’t mindlessly scroll past the news stories of another preventable injustice without first finding out how you can use your own privilege to help out. If you are going to celebrate your patriotism this year, make sure you’re celebrating the ongoing fight for independence for the 40% of America that doesn’t happen to be White.