Shrinking Space For Intellectuals

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From The Editor

The killing of young vocal lawyer Babar Qadri once again puts the question mark on the “improving” security scenario in Kashmir. Qadri was a young lawyer who was often seen in the debates on different national television news channels defending the perspective of Kashmir for which he received brickbats not only from his co-debaters but also other people. He was more known for his articulated views on Kashmir by the larger section of people and for vehemently defending an idea of Kashmir.

Hours before his killing by three unidentified gunmen he had put an important post on the social media and questioned High Court Bar Association, President Main Qayoom for curtailing democracy during the Bar elections. Qadri who was representing several human rights cases was expelled from Bar and his membership wasn’t been restored despite several pleas made from him. He had blamed Main Qayoom for scuttling his re entry in the Bar which according to late lawyer was being done without any reason. He even received a veiled threat on social media and dubbed as working for agencies. Soon after the killing of Qadri, High Court Bar Association issued a strong statement while condemning the killing.

Babar Qadri’s killing is second high profile killing in the Valley in last two years. In 2018, journalist Shujaat Buhkari was killed outside his office. Bukhari was killed despite he had PSO’s. The police have now formed Special Investigative Team (SIT) to know the facts about the killing of young advocate. However, the family has already raised question mark on the police investigations. In these high profile killings there had always been two versions, while police always puts the blame on the militants, the sympathizers of militants don’t hesitate to blame security agencies. And this killing is also heading towards the same directions unless police SIT comes up with some fool proof facts to expose the culprits of the crime. The young lawyer was full with energy and could have contributed in the legal fraternity in a positive way but his life was snatched. He is survived by his young wife and two daughters who have been questioning every visitor about their father who used to play with them. The killing of Babar Qadri has once again reminded us that situation in Kashmir is fragile especially for those people who are vocal and don’t enjoy security. Such killings in Kashmir may narrow down the space for the dissent and intellectual debates. The way Bukhari was vocal on television debates and at other intellectual forums, Babar was treading the same path. But both of them have met bullets and left the devastating tales behind. Such circumstances may not augur well for the future of Kashmir.  The muzzling of intellectual voices may lead Kashmir towards more death and destruction. As the political conflict is prevailing in Kashmir since lasts seventy two years and took the armed shape three decades ago leaving the tragic tales behind, restoring faith and confidence in the healthy intellectual debates with strong level of tolerance may be the only way forward to exit from the morass.

In last 30 years Kashmir had witnessed number of such killings and people never got clear answers on those killings, though in whispers people have been speculating about the killers of these innocent people.

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