The Republic of Continuous Injustice towards Kashmiris

The rules or parameters for humane intervention and compassion from the Indian state dramatically change as soon as the case involves a Kashmiri or in general, a Muslim.

The Republic of Continuous Injustice towards Kashmiris

Tavseef Mairaj

The idea of justice has been time and again violated by India in Kashmir. India portrays its actions as that of a protector and sustainer of the people and in reality does the stark opposite. It is not a hidden fact that India’s policy of doing injustice with, instilling fear in and intimidating the minorities and the under-privileged is permanent, or has been so far the past 67 years. A lot can be written about this but only one aspect is being discussed here.

The rules or parameters for humane intervention and compassion from the Indian state dramatically change as soon as the case involves a Kashmiri or in general, a Muslim. This is evident from the fact that politicians across the spectrum root for mercy to convicts who have been languishing in different Indian jails for many years citing humanity and compassion. But when it was the case of Afzal Guru whose mercy petition came for consideration to three successive presidents of India it was vehemently opposed and media rooms were always full of people condemning him and ruling out any signs of compassion being shown to him. In other cases, involving Indians – civilians or politicians – the calls for compassion come even for hard-core criminals like the rapist-murderer Dhananjoy Chatterjee and even the killers of Indira Gandhi. And it is pertinent to mention here that the death sentence of the conspirators of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination was recently commuted to a life sentence and they could as well be released soon.

Ironically, this decision of the government to free the Rajiv Gandhi assassination conspirators was welcomed by the same politicians in the name of ‘death penalty is barbaric’ who did not even once speak out for clemency (or justice!) for Afzal Guru or the people who signed the black warrant of Maqbool Butt. It could be argued 23 years in prison, waiting for death penalty to be enacted, makes a case for release on compassionate grounds and could give the impression of a compassionate ‘collective conscience’ of India. But, on the other hand, the flimsy grounds on which Afzal Guru was handed death penalty to satisfy this very ‘collective conscience’ and the way in which many people celebrated his execution does paint an entirely different story. While as legislators of different states can move resolutions in favour of clemency to convicts from their states, the legislators from Kashmir have to be more loyal than the king in this regard as they cannot even move a resolution seeking the mortal remains of those hanged not to speak of a resolution seeking clemency. Considering all this, it won’t be an overstatement to say that anti-terrorist or the security policy of a particular government of India is showed off in terms of how inhumanly it has treated Kashmiris in particular and Muslims of India in general.  

One more case in context here is the Pathribal fake encounter. Pathribal fake encounter is a classic case of the operating procedure of Indian troops in Kashmir. Pathribal is a place in South Kashmir where, in the year 2000, 5 Kashmiris were gunned down in cold blood by Indian army. Just five days before the Pathribal killings, in another South Kashmir village, 34 members of the minority Sikh community were shot dead in the dark of night by unidentified gunmen in military fatigues on the eve of the then president of USA Bill Clinton’s India visit. This came to be known as the CHittisinghpora Massacre. Indian troops claimed that the five men they killed in the ‘encounter’ were responsible for this massacre of Sikhs. However, it was later proved by DNA finger-printing that all the five men killed were local shepherds and had no links to militancy. The role of army was clearly established but the men involved were never punished. On the contrary, the army undertook an internal probe into the matter and recently declared the case to be closed, absolving its men of all the charges.

Indian army killed, ordered a probe and declared itself innocent. With the case being declared as shut, not only was justice denied to the five innocents killed by the troops but the massacre of 34 members of the Sikh community also got relegated to a mystery forever. It is pertinent to mention here that members of the Indian forces in Kashmir involved in human rights violations enjoy impunity under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (India) and cannot be tried in a criminal court. Fake encounters are a common feature in the operation procedure of the Indian defence establishment and this is the reason that if one types the searches for ‘fake encounter’ in Google, almost all of the search results are from India.

The fact at the root of all this is that the Indian state always uses a Kashmiri, or more generally a Muslim, to show the masses that the state is ensuring their safety by giving a ‘befitting reply’ to the terrorists and those ‘compromising the territorial integrity of the motherland’. In such cases a Kashmiri is always shown as the other and someone conspiring with the enemy. This is further maintained by the fact that scores of Kashmiris are still in jails in India being either booked under spurious and arbitrary charges as sedition or having being booked under the infamous Public Safety Act (India) which has been termed as a ‘lawless law’ by the Amnesty International.

Last Mod: 04 Mart 2014, 16:34
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