The bitter truth
Have we failed in our duties towards our own people?
WORDS WITHIN BY FIRDOUS SYED
This column is dedicated to Tufail, who was killed since he was a Kashmiri. This space is also dedicated to the memory of Nadihal fake encounter victims and all others-- gunned down in the disguise of local and foreign militants. While wounds of Wamiq, Zahid, Inayat and several others are still fresh in the minds, horrible incident of Shopian has become an unforgettable episode of a collective memory. Unforgettable is also not shameful incident of Konanposhpora, which symbolizes the torn chastity of every Kashmiri women. Wrinkles on the face of an old mother are enough to remind us about the agony of thousands of mothers and wives waiting endlessly, for their loved ones to be back home, soon; thousands have been made to disappear, leaving no trace behind. Wounds may get healed; scars are there to be for ever. This is the price Kashmiri had to pay for dreaming. Yet pain would have been less penetrating and price we paid not so high, (we may have reached our destination also,) had this nation responded to the human crises collectively and somehow prudently.
Dream merchants may contest that sacrifices are part of a struggle. And theology tacticians will preach; death will face death only, when there would be no body left to die. Philosophically this might be true; practically completely untenable. Death is part of the life, but not at the hands of cruelty. Loss of life is an issue; moreover brutality is not only irreconcilable but also unforgivable. More than the brutality, disgusting is the vulture like behavior of our own, which in the end proved to be worst than the actions of adversary.
Another young boy was brutally massacred, and people protested for three or four days. Leaders as usual condemned, visited the bereaved family, and issued paper missiles--- press notes. After few days of commotion every thing seems to be back to normal, as nothing happened. After a week or a fortnight, tragedy may again revisit us and again same charade will be repeated. This has been going on and on, for all these years. Deaths cause more deaths and destruction in the subsequent protests, still these protests are unable to stop the deaths. The protests have become a meaningless routine, therefore lost the impact. Conversely, these protests have increased the impunity of the forces; they can kill at will yet go scot-free. It is not difficult to understand the growing impunity factor, just compare how government responded to previous four tragedies. Shopian tragedy completely rattled the government, though it has failed till date in identifying the real culprits. In Zahid’s case there was some action, on Wamiq’s death government was unmoved rather tried to portray him as a stone pelter, responsible for his own death. In Tufail’s case administration has maintained a criminal silence; initially it tried to paint it even as a murder case. Whatever the government’s response, one thing is certain; no one will be punished fittingly for the ghastly crimes. Why culprits of grave human rights violations in Kashmir enjoy impunity, and why people are denied justice repeatedly?
Pro freedom groups regrettably have grown immune to the large scale deaths. They believe that human scarifies are inevitable in an armed struggle, moreover martyrdom is celebrated as a supreme sacrifice to achieve the freedom. In present phase of (peaceful) resistance, deaths are thought out to be unavoidable; ‘the government machinery has become completely intolerant and is driven to crush any sort of challenge to its authority.’ The point of view that deaths galvanize public opinion and stir passions and keeps movement going to an extent is understandable. This line of thinking has many takers in Kashmir; it is a double edged sword it can also prove highly self-destructive. Loss of life in a proactive action wherein state tries to crush a resistance is inescapable part of the movement. On the contrary, if pro-freedom leaders see deaths as an opportunity and in reaction try to create a movement out of a tragedy, it is highly detestable. It also speaks volumes about the ideological bankruptcy prevalent with the Hurrayat ranks. Indeed Human Rights violations are part of suppression. What should be our response? Mourn the deaths and strive to minimize the losses or celebrate the deaths as an opportunity to embarrass India in a point scoring game? These leaders need to be asked a question if deaths are stepping stones-- another step in the ladder, has the deaths taken us closer to our goal? Have we come closer to our destiny or collective destruction?Leaders---merchants of death type can politically survive only on the death of innocents. Leave them aside, but what about the role of civil society? Shroud sellers have developed vested interest in the continuation of the conflict, their bread and butter is linked with the conflict. Why intellectuals of the society, particularly lawyers, human right activists’ academics and journalists have failed to provide an institutional response to the indiscriminate and widespread Human Rights violations? Whenever a lawyer or human right activist is asked for the reasons, why they have failed to put brakes to HR violations here? They have a readymade answer: “HR violations are not carried in vacuum here, these are meant to suppress the struggle for Azadi, no matter what we do India will still continue with its violent campaign in order to crush the rebellion.” There is some truth in it; it is not the whole truth. There are multiple reasons for the failure of the civil society.
First and foremost, every body wants to be a king or kingmaker, no body wants to serve the cause. When militancy was fashionable, everybody irrespective of his background wanted to be a militant. Even some lawyers picked up the gun, off course to prove disastrous in the end. They could not prove a good soldier, nor could they serve the cause. Every body cannot become every thing; this society does not believe in distribution of labor. Bar president cannot be an outlaw, yet also practice the law. It is not wrong to have a (particular) political conviction, but politics should not hinder one’s professional responsibilities. For all practical purposes Bar Association is a professional body working within the given system. It is free to espouse the cause of Right of Self Determination, but not at the cost of its basic responsibilities. In such a probability what difference remains between a lawyer and a politician? If politics is so attractive, why not to join a political organization directly, being here and also there absolutely makes no sense. Mixing politics with professional responsibilities have has a disastrous impact on thousands of detainees languishing in different jails, in and outside of Jammu and Kashmir. Is not a fact that almost all the prisoners (except few VIP’s), complain that they receive no legal help. An occasional visit to jails is no legal defense? Is it not true that Afzal Guru had no competent legal defense available; same is the story of the Lajpat Nagar bomb blast accused? Once they were convicted and awarded death sentence, every body started beating the chest.
Poor boys are on death row, Geelani appeals for donations to hire legal aid. This is mockery, what they were doing all these years and where was the brave army of our lawyers. Afzal Guru along with other death sentence convicts hanging on the ropes and dying as martyrs may be the requirement of the politicians. However a lawyer like a doctor is duty bond to strive to save a life on a death bed, and in a death cell. But lawyers are not lawyers, like politicians they also regard deaths more profitable. This is the mismatch of the interests; there was every chance had Bar adopted a professional approach some lives could have been saved. Agreed, given the circumstances, it would still not have been successful in stopping the bloodshed entirely. Yet by its sustained effort it could have made shedding of innocent blood costly for the forces.
If two institutions, HR groups and Bar association commit to work earnestly and pursue the cases of HR victims vigorously, they still can make life difficult for the criminals. Can we ask very humbly Bar and HR activists, do they have case files of all the prisoners, victims of HR abuses, and their perpetrators. No they don’t have? It is difficult to ascertain how many died and much difficult to stop the deaths, but much easier it was to pursue the cases of victims in courts honestly. A dogged effort for sure would have created deterrence and also may have saved some lives. Who is to be blamed for the deaths, obviously state is culpable. But it is also a truth rather a bitter truth, we also have badly failed to discharge our duties, conscientiously.
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Lastupdate on : Fri, 18 Jun 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 18 Jun 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 19 Jun 2010 00:00:00 IST
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