A new wave of brutality on the part of the Indian army has gripped Indian-occupied Kashmir, as four unarmed people including two young boys and an elderly woman, were murdered in the name of self-defense. The tragic shootings took place in Handwara town, north of Srinagar, on Tuesday, after a soldier allegedly molested a teenage girl. Once news of the alleged sexual abuse spread, people, mostly youths, assembled to protest and the situation soon escalated.

The victim of the abuse, a sixteen year old, remains in police custody, as do her brother and father, and a video was released on social media by the Indian army in which she refuted the claims of the molestation. A video made of the questioning in police custody, obviously under clear duress, is not even admissible in a court of law. The Indian Army’s actions have reached a new low by violating the victim’s basic rights - though basic rights have been missing the region for a long time now.

Amid the ongoing curfew, the Central Indian government on Saturday decided to send 3,600 additional paramilitary personnel to the valley, directing the state government to ensure there is no more “loss of lives”. But all this is doing is enforcing the rule of fear that has been the Indian Army’s aide for decades in Indian-occupied Kashmir. The impunity to kill is an attempt to silence the voices that call for Kashmir’s political resolution and prevent them from expressing their political and economic rights. After each civilian killing, words like “regret, and standard of procedures,” are heard from the spokespersons of army and the police. Kashmir’s first woman Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of the newly installed coalition government headed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stated “exemplary punishment will act as a deterrent against such incidents in future”, but will there really be any punishment for those who have complete protection under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)?

The people have had enough and have been protesting in Handwara for the last two days. They yearn for the right to dignity and prosperity; the right to live decent existences without brutality of militarism; the right to work and vote and enable their families to enjoy the basic necessities of life; the right to hold opinions instead of being placed under house arrest for doing so; and the right to an existence in which trauma, murder and anger are a thing of the past.