Of Justice and Reconciliation

Can Kashmir contemplate reconciliation without thinking of justice!

TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE

RASHAD HUSSAIN

Truth and reconciliation commission played an important role in South Africa to overcome the past resentments and fractured relations, created during the apartheid period. Actually Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a transitional justice system which is very useful in post conflict recovery situations. The idea behind TRC is to reconcile between victim and perpetrator. Desmond Tutu’s, book No Life without Forgiveness has provided a theoretical insight on how love and forgiveness could transform people’s lives; dealing with their frustrated feelings. As we know that once the conflict is over it is very difficult to recover because there are both perpetrators and victims living in the society. In order to overcome these resentments it is very important to have a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
According to TRC both perpetrator and victim have to come before the court, where perpetrator will accept his crime; then it is victim’s choice to forgive him or not. As a result a society will become free from past resentments.
Guru AasthaTrust created by Sikhs in Punjab is another classic example of Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Although there were no formal confessions like TRC in South Africa, but the victims of both the parties were brought to live together and understand each other. It is not necessarily to call it Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it can be named differently in different societies.
Now the question arises is Truth and Reconciliation Commission relevant in Kashmir? The immediate answer will be no, because Kashmir is still in the troubled situation. There is violent atmosphere all around, no doubt there is some reduction in the intensity of the conflict in the last few years, but the conflict still exists. As Amitabh Matoo mentioned in an article in Greater Kashmir, that the conflict in Kashmir is just like a Pandora box. It will calm for some time but erupt from nowhere just like a volcano.                                                                                                                                                       We will not totally say that Kashmir does not require a Truth and Reconciliation Commission but first of all we should create an atmosphere necessary to make TRC successful in Kashmir. First, there is question of reconciliation between which two parties. Having TRC means that both the parties to the conflict have to acknowledge their wrongs, but here India is not even ready to accept Kashmir as a dispute; so expecting a Truth and Reconciliation Commission is not realistic.
However, there is a possibility. If the hostile attitudes are diminished, the aggrieved people can expect to seek justice from the apparatus of governance. Here some sort of a commission that digs out the truth and tries to reconcile the contending parties can be thought of. As we know that Kashmir is one of the highest militarized zones in the world. Unless and until there is a significant troop reduction such a commission will be of no use.
There is no need to constitute TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) in haste because. It is the only option available, if it goes waste, it is very difficult to overcome those past resentments. Another important aspect is that in order to make TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) we need an influential leadership to make it a success. It was the influential and spiritual personality of Desmond Tutu that made TRC successful in South Africa. Where is that leadership in Kashmir is a big question mark.
Keeping in view the last twenty years’ atrocities  and systematic violence inflicted on Kashmir’s innocent people, and the attitude of the state towards it, one can at the most expect a victor’s justice instead of TRC. And the victor’s justice is hardly any justice.

Authors is trained in International Peace and Conflict

Lastupdate on : Sat, 1 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 1 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 2 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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