On Sunday night, an armed sentry at an Air Force station in Budgam shot dead a 65-year-old man who they said had come close to the perimeter wall of the station and ignored repeated warnings. The man was identified as Syed Habibullah, a mentally disabled from Soibugh area of Budgam. The killing of the mentally ill man, who wasn't wearing winter clothes, was barefoot and didn't have an identity card on him was half-heartedly condemned on social media. At the man's funeral in Soibugh, he was given the funeral of a hero - with pro-freedom and anti-India slogans ringing the nippy air.
The killing of a mentally ill man by Indian armed forces in Kashmir is nothing new. Such killings have happened before, and the trend has largely been un-noticed. According to Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a human rights organization based in the valley, there have been at least 17 such cases where Indian armed forces have killed mentally disabled persons, and sometimes as allegedly mistaking them for militants in the last fourteen years.