‘K’ resistance refuses to fade, it is longstanding and exemplary, and it is fed with blood of some iconic figures. Amongst scores of others, two stand out—Maqbool Bhat and Afzal Guru. While others sacrificed as much, the twosomes symbolize failure of justice delivery.
Justice, as is often said has not only to be done, but it should be seen to be done. It has to be convincing enough to make it sink widely. Alas! On that score judged by any measure, any standard, justice though delivered did not carry conviction even in quarters, where it was delivered.
Had it been so, it would stand delivered without prefixes and suffixes like ‘satisfying the collective conscience of the nation’. Justice ceases to be justice, if and when it is delivered to satisfy individual or collective conscience. It has to be delivered on the judicial merits of the case.
Vis-à-vis Afzal Guru Verdict it did not satisfy even the conscience of segments of constituency, where it was supposed to appeal. While as Kashmir reacted with shock and disbelief on Feb: the 9th 2013, opinion in the length and breadth of India was divided. Saner elements raised questions, enough to cause disquiet. Introspection abounded, as the implication of ‘collective conscience’ judicial interjection started sinking in.
Was it the deficit in judicial conclusion that prompted the interjection? If so, the deficit may entail doubt. And doubt in judicial conclusion has implicit in it, the benefit of doubt. The benefit of doubt is given to the accused, as judicial verdict has to be delivered beyond any shade of doubt. As it stands, in Afzal Guru Case, the benefit of doubt seems to have been given to the accuser, the accuser being the state.
Afzal Guru’s parting note written in steady hand shortly before he walked to the gallows stands witness to the fact that he had given up the hope of a living in flesh and blood long before it happened. He was ready to face the gallows.
And while doing so, he was signing for posterity. Assured that he stands to inspire resistance of a people resisting status quo. People in quest of a permanent and lasting political settlement by exercising right of self-determination.
Settlement promised by international community in forums set-up to adjudicate the fate of the people in a state of political wilderness. Post Second World War United Nations stands out as the forum assigned to adjudicate. Adjudicate it did decades back, failure to carry out the adjudication is resulting in Maqbool Bhat, Afzal Guru and their ilk going to gallows.
Non-resolution of ‘K’ conflict is resulting in unaccounted disappearances, in scores of half widows—women who do not know whether the person they were wedded to would ever return or not. There are scores of graves, with the fact unknown who is resting eternally deep down.
It has resulted in Kunan-Khushpora, where mass rape allegation awaits fair judicial adjudication. In fact judicial shirking in the case is in itself a marked evidence that there is a lot that fears exposition, and judicial scrutiny beyond any shade of doubt.
Ducking under mounting evidence has been the predominant feature of the case. Passage of time has not buried evidences, rather more are emerging. Testimony of District Commissioner in-charge of the period is one such evidence. Wajahat Habibullah’s guarded, tongue-in-cheek comments have revealed more than what he attempts to hold back.
Maqbool Bhat embraced resistance in a period when few dared to. It was a period, when as Pundit Nehru had wished, it appeared people had adjusted to ground facts. In other words, accepted the status quo. The myth was eventually broken. However, before it would happen, Maqbool Bhat stepped in the apparent vacuum.
A vacuum in which resistance was fading, though it always stayed short of evaporating. The resistance was hardly the thin air that could evaporate. It had and persists to have an inherent sentiment, related to overwhelming majority of masses. In periods though, it needed to be translated into action. That is where Maqbool Bhat stepped in.
Maqbool Bhat was a romanticist, deeply in love with the land, he was born and bred in. LoC is a line seeped in blood that divides hearts and hangs like enslaving yoke of powers that be around as natural an entity as the enchanting vale of Kashmir. It did not carry any meaning for the endearing and enduring son—Maqbool Bhat of the natural setting---Vale of Kashmir.
He crisscrossed it challenging the very powers that brought it about. In the process, he was caged and sentenced to embrace the gallows, a venture, the likes of Maqbool Bhat have never hesitated from, ever-since history of Homo-Sapiens (the human race) started unfolding. The gallows would continue to claim likes of Maqbool Bhat and Afzal Guru, until and unless the inherent right of human beings to live of their own accord is not recognized.
People living anywhere as a group, comprising a distinct ethno-cultural/socio-political entity may not relish or cherish being the part of self-proposed diversity that does not tune with the manner of their living. Detested diversity could be self-defeating, however adorable it might otherwise be.
Maqbool Bhat’s, as well as Afzal Guru’s sentence stayed short of implementation, unless and until political expediency dictated carrying it out, which points to another legal lacuna, where politics gets better of justice.
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]