Snatch (Thap)

Over the last 100 days, almost 9000 Kashmiris have been detained/arrested in what is believed to be the largest crackdown on protests in history. Such is the fear of the arrests, that mothers warn their children of a possible thap (snatch in Kashmiri) by the authorities.

In the ancient times, a tyrant king ruled over Egypt. A prophecy was made that a boy will be born in a Jewish family who will rise against the King and defeat him. Shocked, the King killed every single boy born to a Jewish mother. The newly borns were informed upon and later they were slaughtered by the King’s army.

A few days ago in a neighbourhood in Srinagar, the police raided the houses with ladders to break in to the houses. The detention spree is so widespread, that many parents have sent their kids out of Kashmir, and some have gone underground. In these cases, the police usually detain the father so as to blackmail the kids into surrender.

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Pass by any police station these days, you’ll witness mothers sitting outside the police stations to know the well being of their children. Many youngsters have been sent to the notorious Kot Balwal Jail, 300 kilometres away in hostile conditions.

In Kashmir these days, the tradition of the Pharoah is being followed by the state authorities. From boys in their pre-teens to older adults, everyone is subjected to detention and arrests. Mostly these raids are conducted in the dark nights, when these boys are whisked away by the police who cordon off the neighbourhood.

Like Maymoona whose son Nouman was whisked away, when she tried to raise an alarm, a police officer shut her mouth.

From the religious leader Dr. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to young 16 year olds Rayees and Waheed put under Public Safety Act. In one week of October alone 446 youths have been detained or arrested by the authorities.

Jammu Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) an administrative detention law that allows detention without charge or trial for up to two years in some cases. Public Safety Act is called a lawless law by the Amnesty International and other human rights organizations call it ‘draconian’. Around 450 people mostly youngsters have been charged under this draconian act.

In fact such has been the blatant use of this act that even renowned human rights activists such as Khurram Parvez have been detained under this act.

During their detention, there has been reported widespread use of torture. In the 2010 Channel 4 documentary the Kashmir Torture Trail, some of the detained protesters were subjected to gruesome torture. There are practices of using pliers to pluck the finger-nails, or using stone rollers over their bodies is common knowledge in Kashmir.

The police authorities are armed with a strong intelligence network much like the Gestapo in the erstwhile East Germany. The protesters are marked out by the informers, sometimes this leads to detention of innocents.26

A few days ago, announcements were made in the old Srinagar where the police couldn’t find their target, so instead another youngster was detained who has no history of participating in protests. Not that protesting against injustice and for rights is a crime, but certainly in a Gestapo state like ours.

While as the Pharoahic orders for mass-arrests continue, the state in its conniving Machiavellian politics has been promoting send-children-to-schools-narrative. This in turn to normalize the situation to their liking while as 15,000 people have been injured mostly students. Such blatant demagoguery has led to a new student’s movement calling for boycott of examinations.

Young student leaders have called for end to detention spree, freedom for detained students and delay in examinations. Such demands have gone to deaf ears, while the protests by these students has emboldened.

While in any civlised society, such arbitrary detentions and torture would be shamed in the media and the public opinion. India seems to be unmoved with the detention spree. This is partly due to the dehumanizing narratives created by the Indian Media. Instead of reporting such excesses, prime-time anchors create distortions to justify such human rights violations in the name of nationalism.
The consequences of this crackdown have not only laid bare the false claims of democracy of the Indian state, but also will further push Kashmiri youth to the edge. Similar to the consequences of the crackdown on political activists in 1980s which led to the beginning of the armed insurrection in Kashmir

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