That the dissent is the lifeline of democracy and 'highest form of patriotism', is a truism. In fact, in democracies, it should be 'an act of faith.' Moreover, for strengthening democratic traditions in societies adequate space should be yielded to the voices of disagreement. In our State, instead of allowing space to the dissent for past many decades all discordant voices have been denied any space, and thus strangulated. Sometimes, as in 1972 and 1987 these voices were prevented hideously from participating in the electoral process. For these policies of the powers that be, the state has been pushed into an abyss of uncertainties and unless these policies are changed it will be difficult to pull out the state from these depths of the morass. It is a harsh reality, the state adopting a punitive policy towards its citizens, causes cataclysmic unrest amongst the people. Since late fifties, the state leadership in power instead of owning people has been adopting one after another harsher laws to suppress the voices of the dissent. It is sad that the Preventive Detention Act (PDA) of the sixties and seventies was replaced by a harsher law like the Public Safety Act (PSA), known internationally as a 'lawless law'. Like their predecessors in the office this leadership also has sadly given up to the dictation of the bureaucracy.
It is high time for the PDP-BJP coalition government to realize that arm-twisting policies or sending people to jails are no answer to the uncertainty in the state that over a period of time has deepened discontent. Subjecting a large number of school going children and teenagers to torture, putting them in lock-ups, interrogation centers and sending them to jails is a dangerous game plan with serious consequences for the future of the society. During past four months' political unrest an unprecedented number of children and teenagers were arrested and sent to jails. The Ministry of Home (MHA) in reply to a question, a couple of days back admitted that 7392 persons were arrested and bound down in Kashmir after July 8. Instead of pursuing the old bureaucratic Bible in dealing with political unrest, the government needs to revisit its policies and allow the political dissent.