Sopore Killing: Every Frame Raises A Question

Art by Mir Suhail. Credit- Twitter

The killing of a civilian Bashir Ahmad Khan in Sopore town of Kashmir valley during a gun fight between militants and paramilitary on Wednesday morning triggered a massive outrage after photo of his three year old grandchild sitting on his chest went viral. While the police blamed the militants for his killing, the heartbreaking visuals and the family allegations set off a heated debate on social media with many questioning the police version of the story.

Acclaimed Kashmiri author Mirza Waheed took to social media and wrote a series of questions seeking answers. Clarion India reproduces his Facebook Post written on Friday Morning.

Mirza Waheed is a novelist and the author of The Collaborator, The Book of Gold Leaves, and Tell Her Everything. He has previously worked with BBC Urdu. — Photo Credit: The Week
By Mirza Waheed

The Killing of Bashir Ahmed Khan

The killing of Bashir Ahmed Khan is quite clearly much more than heinous. Every moment, every frame presents a hugely damning question:

How does an old man out driving with his toddler grandson end up lying dead, his body artfully arranged in the middle of a street, with the stunned child sitting on his chest?

Was Mr. Khan killed while driving? If yes, who took him and the three-year-old out and prepared their bodies for a photoshoot? Why?

If he was killed during a crossfire, as the police insist, he should’ve been found inside his car, not on the road.

Who decided to shoot a photograph of the child as he sat petrified, his clothes smeared with blood, on his grandad’s corpse? Why was this done?

Once again, if at all the grandfather and his grandchild somehow crawled out an encounter site, why were they not immediately taken away to make sure no harm comes to the child?

Why is a policeman straddled across Khan’s corpse at another moment? How did this happen? If there was a shootout in progress or had just ended, why were the armed forces also busy in a sequential photoshoot? Was this, too, a part of the rescue ops?

Was the deceased injured at some point – did he need urgent medical help? Was any attempt made to take him to a hospital, to save his life?

Once again, why was his body filmed? By whom?

Why was the grandchild filmed while crying uncontrollably inside a police vehicle? To what end? How was this decision arrived at and who said yes, it’s perfectly alright to record a sobbing three-year-old who had just seen, felt, and sat on his grandfather’s dead body? Why not quietly hand him over to his parents, so that he could be protected from further trauma?

In another image, let’s call it Sample 3, the child is seen not far from a battle-ready, armed soldier. Why wasn’t the child escorted to safety here – he’s perhaps just a few feet away from a gun-wielding trooper – if rescue was of prime importance? Why was this photo taken?

Once again, it appears from the photo that the soldier is asking the child to go away. A swift gesture of the hand. How does this translate into a rescue?

As an auxiliary to this, since when did journalism mean imparting primacy to the claims of the state, of those in power? It was meant to scrutinise the assertions of the state, give voice to the powerless and victims of power, not the other way round.

PS: Everyone can answer these rudimentary questions, but everyone also knows who must really answer.



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