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.”
May 30, 2020 – On March 23, two days before the nationwide lockdown was imposed in India, Deepak Bandele, was going to the hospital for treatment when he was stopped by on-duty patrolling policemen. Bandele tried to explain that he has a history of high blood-pressure and diabetes and was required to visit the hospital for regular treatment, but police officials thrashed him ruthlessly without listening to what he had to say.
Two months after the incident, neither has he been given access to the CCTV footage nor has his police complaint been acknowledged. Instead, Bandele says he is constantly being pressured to withdraw the complaint.
Following the brutal attack, two police officials who contacted Bandele’s residence in order to record his statement revealed the “real reason” he was thrashed. Bandele has since shared call recordings in which police officials can be heard saying:
“All those people are ashamed that they did something like this to a Hindu brother without knowing his identity.
“We do not have any enmity against you. Whenever there is a Hindu-Muslim riot, police always supports the Hindus; even Muslims know this. But whatever happened with you was because of ignorance. For that, I have no words,” he said.
When Bandele clarified about no riots taking place that day, the police officials replied, “Yes, exactly. You had a long beard. The man (who assaulted you) is a staunch Hindu… In Hindu-Muslim riots whenever a Muslim is arrested, he beats them up brutally, always.”
Islamophobia in India has exploded ever since the enactment of the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act in December 2019, introduced by the ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, paving the way for such shameful incidents where individuals are attacked just for sporting a beard, a feature that is mostly characteristic of Muslims.