But if small protests are disallowed these can lead to big protests
Staging protests in Srinagar has become the most difficult task as the section 144 remains in place for the entire year and Police are authorized to disperse the protesters in whichever way it wants. Police can use batons, fire teargas shells, use water canons, or even resort to firing to prevent people from taking to the streets. Last month Police foiled the attempt of Government employees to take out a protest march to press for their demand to enhance the retirement age from 58 years to 60 years. Dozens of employees were arrested while others had to face the colored water canons.
Recently some human rights activists assembled at Lal Chowk in city centre to stage a protest against the growing dog menace in the city but policemen appeared there and arrested the activists before they could raise their voice against the terror unleashed by the dogs. One of the arrested activists, Muhammad Ahsan Untoo, alleged that a truckload of dogs was dumped outside his house at Devar Lolab in frontier district of Kupwara. He termed it as sheer “vendetta,” and an attempt to muzzle the voice of Kashmiris.
One wonders why protests irk the government. Right to protest is the fundamental right granted to every citizen in the Indian constitution. It seems people at the helm want masses to believe that Kashmir Valley doesn’t fall within the ambit of Indian constitution. If it is so then people facing batons for taking to streets is nothing unnatural. If constitution applies to the Valley then government has to explain why staging protests that too which are not for Azadi are disallowed in Kashmir?
People at the helm need to understand that if masses are not allowed to give vent to their ire against the day to day problems they face it can have far reaching consequences. Small issues become big issues if these are pushed under the carpet and force is used to create fear among the people. Democratically elected representatives of the people cannot behave like monarchs. They have to bear in mind that power is temporary and people are permanent.
If people are allowed to stage protests it makes government also aware about the problems faced by them. No sane person would take to streets without a reason. One needs to understand their problems and address their grievances rather than making them shut their mouths under duress. People at the helm argue that if protests are allowed it would create a law and order problem but the point is, if small protests are disallowed these can lead to big protests which can create “big law and order problem.”
History stands testimony to the fact that policy of suppression doesn’t last long and it leads to a rebellion.
New Delhi and the state government need to understand this simple logic. If they want to establish everlasting peace in the Kashmir Valley they have to change their mindset and give some breathing space to Kashmiris. Using force and muzzling their voice adds to alienation which at the end forces people to take the government head on.
Protests have been a part of Kashmir movement for the past 20-years and these have always been dealt with force. Earlier people used to stage pro-freedom demonstrations now the people stage protests to get their day to day issues addressed. There is lot of difference between the protests of earlier times and the demonstrations of today but there seems no change in approach to deal with these. What a pity!
Authorities allowing mainstream parties to take out rallies and dispersing their protests without using any force has made the common people believe that these protests are stage managed. Even if mainstream parties stage a demonstration for a genuine cause people pass it on as a “drama.” The opposition parties need to ponder upon this point and raise this issue. If they don’t raise this issue it will make the belief of people firm that the protests staged by mainstream parties have got New Delhi’s approval and these are not for the cause of common people.
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Lastupdate on : Fri, 4 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 4 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 5 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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