Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz killed: There was not enough done for Kashmir's fallen soldier

Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz was not tortured and killed by his neighbours.

This was a deliberate attack to murder an officer of the Indian Army and then commit atrocities on his body. If this was the doing of just the segment of the stone-pelting youths in Kashmir, the body would not have been mutilated in this fashion. The stone-pelters are the same people who didn’t pick up a pebble when one of their own was tied to the bonnet of a jeep.

Even if they had been brainwashed into believing that the lieutenant was a 'traitor' to the cause for wearing the Indian Army uniform with pride after four years of gruelling training as a cadet, they would have not engaged in torture. They would have just shot him from afar or killed him instantly and departed.

Soldiers pay respect to Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz at his funeral on Wednesday. Firstpost/Sameer Yasir

Soldiers pay respect to Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz at his funeral on Wednesday. Firstpost/Sameer Yasir

To make the kidnapped victim suffer requires a certain mindset. To mutilate a body postmortem is not something any amateur freedom fighter will engage in. This is the same state of mind that killed two Indian soldiers on the LoC and then set about doing unspeakable acts to their bodies. Cold and ruthless. Your garden-variety freedom fighter would never do something so dastardly at a wedding.

The difference between killing and butchery is stark. The second is emotionless and a ploy with a message. In this, the message is to the people in the Kulgam district and, in fact, all of Pakistan. You show any support for the Indian forces you will be seen as a traitor, and there will be bloody consequences. That was the idea and it was also a thumbing of the nose at the presence of India's armed forces and the ongoing conflict between civilians and the military.

The bonus for the organised and financed terror groups is that they hope these acts will lower the morale of the Indian forces. To an extent, with every such malevolent assault, they do gain a little traction. And the pattern becomes repetitive. There is an infliction of gratuitous, stomach-churning violence. This is followed by a swell of indignation and outrage from the Indian public and its political leadership.

Assurances of suitable retribution are then made and sound bites tweeted and the nation girds for action.

We trumpet our affection for the man in uniform and then nothing happens. The spark of rage fizzles out and ends up in the pages of history. Another sordid link in this tragic chain.

On to the next incident. With the relative lack of consequences and the general ennui from the leaders allows the enemy to feel emboldened.

Even this latest atrocity has not been ‘appreciated’ by either our politicians or our bureaucracy. If they had, they would have ordered a huge funeral — not one that comprised a thousand nervous and intimidated mourners. At Burhan Wani’s funeral, there were 200,000 people from across the Valley. To offset the gloom there should have been a major last journey for Fayaz attended by the chiefs of the forces — a massive display of togetherness and solidarity in the ranks and a service that would have sent a counter message to thousands of young men in the Valley who would seriously consider recruitment in the forces if it was a movement.

A message that would have resonated: This was our brother, our comrade in arms and we salute him. A fitting farewell to a fallen soldier.

Last month, 19,000 young people in Jammu and Kashmir fetched up to seek employment in the forces. That is a lot of young people sick and tired of the stench of cordite and the copper taste of blood. A younger generation that does not want to inherit the hopelessness of hate.

There are many families like Fayaz's, who just want to live in peace. Here was an opportunity to make his death count for so much more. What better revenge for a fallen comrade than to have 39,000 young men fetch up at the next enlistment camp?

Our leaders just don’t see it, do they?

Updated Date: May 11, 2017 15:05 PM

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