Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.
This is what Baruch Spinoza, a 17th century metaphysical philosopher said about the definition of peace. This is more relevant today than it was in his times. When we talk of peace in Jammu and Kashmir, have we reached that stage where minds are free of fear and violence, the answer is a simple, `No'. In terms of statistics, the line that the security forces and officials often use is that the violence is on decline. They are quick to quote figures, comparing the number of incidents in a particular year to the current year. They draw their satisfaction from the data that their computers show and are keen to put it on the websites or pass it on to the rest of the world through media. Is that the whole truth? Surely not. That is one way of measuring the declining violence, but it is silent about the people who are dead or those who disappeared. Their hopes and dreams cannot be reflected in numbers. From the living beings, having dreams, and names, they are reduced to numbers.
Elizabeth Minor, the principal Oxford Research Group , who did a study on casualty recording, was told by one of the recorders that “Everyone knows that in conflict people die, but they are not just numbers. They are people with dreams, with hopes, with families, with suffering, with all of that. That is a fact of life – when a youth dies in conflict, the only thing common is that the man in the grave and the photograph that his parents carry, are of the same man who died in a conflict situation. That is true of all the `innocents' who died in the conflict because they happened to be there at a wrong time.
In Jammu and Kashmir, there is no perfect method of casualty recording. The security forces have their own register, telling them that how many militants died in the conflict, how many civilians lost life in cross- fire or how many civilians were killed in conflict. Separatists have their own register and so do have the militant groups, who categorise the casualties with their group affiliation, almost in the same manner as the security forces put out register of how many Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen militants were killed in encounters. Soldiers, paramilitary forces also lose their lives in the gun-battles. No record is perfect. The figures differ, because the methodology of casualty recording is not the same with any of these.
Now, the time has come when the people of the state should know the clear picture of the dead and buried or cremated. Jammu and Kashmir owes it to all, because simply the numbers will not do. Give name to those who died, and find out what their fears, hopes and dreams were. This would help in creating an understanding. To understand the pain is the best remedy to remove the pain. In this state, where there is a fear in expressing grief over the killing of soldiers, and mourning the death of militants is one side of the story. The other is that in every word, the political gains or losses weigh more than the human beings. So, whosoever said that politics is being played on dead bodies by both mainstream and other parties is not wrong. There is a politician, whose knowledge of politics is confined to a book which he, perhaps, read in 1950s, who changes his views at the drop of hat, depending which audience he is addressing. He has set a precedent in Kashmir politics of `patwari' politics into the state. With this kind of politicians, who are struggling all the time for their self, to expect that they would restore the human dignity to the people who have been reduced to numbers, is to expect too much.
This particular attitude of the politicians is deepening the fears in the minds of the people. There is a real danger that these politicians would offer any number of people to become numbers for their own political health and wealth. Here, it’s time that new leadership emerges which stops this process and allow a beginning to be made where human dignity is bestowed upon both the living and the dead.
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