Photo of toddler sitting atop grandfather’s body latest addition to list of children caught in J&K conflict

On Wednesday, Bashir Ahmad Khan’s car was caught in crossfire between militants and security forces in north Kashmir’s Sopore town, killing him instantly while the toddler was unhurt

Photo courtesy- Twitter
Photo courtesy- Twitter
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Gulzar Bhat

On Wednesday, the harrowing picture of an old man and his grandson sitting over his lifeless body was widely shared on social media. While many say the images lay bare a Goebbelsian mindset, the pictures are another addition to the list of images showing the plight of children in a region torn apart by conflict.

At around 7.30 am on Wednesday, the car of Bashir Ahmad Khan, who was travelling along with his barely 3-year-old grandson, was caught in crossfire between militants and security forces in north Kashmir's well-heeled Sopore town. While the slugs pierced through the body of Khan, killing him instantly, the toddler was unhurt.

A CRPF man also got killed and three others suffered injuries. Besides the image showing the child sitting on Khan’s supine body, another picture shows the moppet in the lap of a cop. The picture was also shared by the police on its Twitter handle.

It is not yet clear who snapped these pictures in the midst of a shoot out.

A local journalist told National Herald over phone that the pictures had not been taken by the photo journalists working in the area."Normally there are local stringers and journalists who reach the spot first, but they always attribute their work to themselves," he said.

Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Zone,Vijay Kumar said that whosoever had clicked the pictures would face action.

Some media reports quoting the local residents and family sources suggest that the child was placed on the corpse of his grandfather before the pictures were taken.

Propaganda?

The unattributed pictures set off a row with former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah calling the posting of pictures on social media as ‘propaganda’. "Everything becomes a propaganda tool in the bloody violence in Kashmir...", Abdullah tweeted.

BJP leaders used the pictures to upbraid the opposition political parties on the social media.

Some Kashmir watchers of long standing feel that the state has been adopting the Goebbelsian tactics to relay the selective information for the slick image-building of government. "Such tactics could prove only counter-productive. The public disclosure of such pictures is plain violation of juvenile act. But when BJP leaders like Sambit Patra say that he would post all the pictures of incident on social media and let others cry foul as much as they can, it speaks volumes about a propagandist mind set," they said requesting anonymity.

Other pictures

In the past, several disturbing images of children have attracted the eye balls of tens of thousands on social media. In August 2017, the picture of a wailing 5-year-old Zohra went viral on social media. Sporting a school uniform, Zohra broke down after she saw the corpse of her father Abdul Rashid Shah peppered with bullets by militants in Anantnag. Shah was working as assistant sub-inspector in police. The picture was so harrowing that it numbed people both in and outside Valley.

In the month of March, a heart breaking image of 9-year-old Burhan Fayaz was widely shared on social media. The picture was snapped over the last rites of his friend Amir Nazir in south Kashmir's Pulwama district. Nazir was shot dead when the armed forces fired ammunition to disperse protesters who had neared a gun battle site.

Last month, the picture of 4-year-old Nihaan Yaseen, who was killed after militants attacked CRPF men in Bijbehara town, also went viral across social media platforms. Similarly, the pellet-hit image of 18-month-old Hiba Nisar was also shared on the social media.

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