Monday, October 5, 2015
Brutal Bloodbath in Gool…a sickening routine
FIRs, Probe Promises, Ex-gratia Relief, Govt. Job-all a part of routine official drill
By Dr.Javid Iqbal
It does not get even a shade better. Trigger happy soldiers rule the roost, armed not only with their weapons, but also with the belief that come what may, whatever they might do is in no way going to implicate them. They may not be charged, the law secures the belief. In a democracy that is boasted of, it is the chief minister-the first among equals in his cabinet, who is responsible. Since the incidents recur with amazing regularity, masses are not wrong in concluding that matters are beyond the reach of chief minister and his cabinet. Hence the pretension of chief minister and his ministers running the show is hardly believed. Since masses are suffering day in and day out, they know where the shoe pinches. There is however the largess, which chief minister and his cabinet readily doles out-ex-gratia relief to the families of the deceased and a government job. The redressal is readily provided, besides FIR is ordered to be filed, a probe promised, it also carries the promise of exemplary punishment. How exemplary is the promised exemplary punishment stands markedly evident over decades of trouble. It is known by non-implementation rather than implementation, yet the state unabashedly parades it routinely.

The official drill following an event is so similar, as to suspect a design behind it. There may be no design; however the room for skepticism is wide, given the conditions the masses in JK state have been subjected to live in. The Chief Minister rushes to condemn the event, asks a minister or two to rush to the place of the incident with the ex-gratia dole and promise of government to the next of the kin. CM also makes sure to blame the separatists for efforts to fan the fire, and advises the people not to fall in their bait. The police readily rush to residences of resistances leaders to cage them. In case of SAS Geelani the constant police presence is strengthened, he remains a prisoner in spite of government pretensions that he is not. It strengthens the impression that mainstream leadership is frail of limb, weak of mind to face politically the octogenarian SAS Geelani. The ageing prime resistance leader in spite of multiple ailments with one kidney removed and another partially [one fourth] is amazingly strong in spirit. CM's allegation that he is a threat to peace flies in the face of the fact that there is hardly any peace, even though he remains caged. CM would do well to fish for a more plausible explanation. The question remains-is there one?

In spite of the routine being followed with an amazing regularity, there are gaffes that reveal the lie the state resorts to, in order to cover the mishaps. Thus while the CM; the state cabinet condemns the incident, MOS Home talks of attempt to loot the ammunition by miscreants. By implication he seems to defend the firing. In case the unarmed mob really meant to loot the ammunition, then the shoe is in the other foot? MOS Home has however left many questions un-answered. Why was the mob there? What happened in Darsgah? Why was Manzoor Shan-the teacher shot dead at point blank range by a police official, as alleged by an eye witness, while the said teacher was pacifying the crowd? The whole episode leaves many questions un-answered. One would like the minister to be more circumspect, but the fact is that man in uniform is a law unto himself. And the fault lines are much beyond the reach of JK state. State violence rules the roost in the land of Mahatma Gandhi, and it is the state violence which brings violence of non-state actors into play. Gandhi's propagation of non-violence is taken as a tale of yester years, relegated to subconscious imprint. And, it surfaces to conscious state, whenever and wherever the moral posture of the state is to be propagated.

During my long stay in Iran, I was surprised to see the state of Gandhi trail. Some would not hesitate to call him the 'Prophet of the modern epoch [Paighambar-e- Zaman Bhood in Persian] in spite of deep Islamic belief that Prophet Mohammad [PBUH] is the last prophet. Perhaps the reference is metaphorical rather than literal. As the opposition to Shah-Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi hiked, Gandhi's name was often invoked, with Shah adopting a scorched earth policy. Shah had noted in his book 'Mission for my Country' [an English version of 'Mamoriat Barai Watnam'] that Indian state has all that it needs to secure the state-words to that effect, if not the exact quote. Excessive extension of long arm of the state, by getting armed to the teeth, as the proverb goes seems to what Shah alluded to. In spite of that, the opposition invoked Gandhi name and his dogma of non-violence, in order to pose a moral question to Shah, and gain international sympathy. Nehru's international posture of peace and non-violence as a guiding factor was also invoked. It was as true of the liberal opposition led by likes of Mahdi Bazargan as it was of the highly religious Ayatollahs'. Aggressive posture of the Indian state found an excuse in 1962 Chinese onslaught. However with every passing day, it is getting proved that such a posture is not China specific. At more or less 12%---one rupee out of every eight [2.03 trillion out of 16.65 trillion rupees total outlay] India has one of the highest defence spending worldwide. India thus is sparing no effort to prove the late Shah right and his detractors wrong. Not only Shah's opposition, but international icons like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela too, whose political movements were largely Gandhi inspired.

Kashmir more than any other conflict zone holds antipathy in extremes. AFSPA provides immunity to the security forces, even though government appointed commissions called it excessive, as did the international community, time and again. In 2009, on March the 23rd India took the plea of Article 355 of her constitution which implies the duty of the Union to protect every State against external aggression and internal disturbance. It was invoked to overcome objections raised by UN Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay to AFSPA. Terming it as colonial, the commissioner called it "dated and colonial-era law that breach contemporary international human rights standards." Earlier in 1991, United Nations Human Rights Committee [UNHRC] questioned the constitutionality of the AFSPA under Indian law and asked how it could be justified in light of Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR]. Article 4:1 of the covenant provides for emergencies, it reads, "In time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation and the existence of which is officially proclaimed, the States Parties to the present Covenant may take measures derogating from their obligations under the present Covenant to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with their other obligations under international law and do not involve discrimination solely on the ground of race, colour, sex, language, religion or social origin". Could the government testify that Gool incident viewed in all its implications did not entail discrimination on the grounds laid down in article 4:1 of ICCPR?

Justice Jeevan Reddy commission appointed in northeast by the central government advocated revocation in its recommendations submitted on June 6, 2005. The then Defence Minister Pranab Mukerjee had rejected the withdrawal or significant dilution of the Act implying that it is not possible for the armed forces to function in disturbed areas without such powers. Pranab's overruling proves that excessive use of force suits the powers that be, as it works as an intimidating factor. Intimidation is taken as a powerful weapon to subdue the ones that are perceived to be not following the diktat of state. The perception stays, even though masses in J&K state remain largely peaceful. However, their stream of though vis-à-vis their political status is deeply doubted by the state. The state does not seem to believe its own word of over 65 % vote in assembly-parliamentary elections, and over 80% in Panchayat elections. In spite of projection of these figures in international arena, the state players lack confidence in political process. Instead force, excessive force, disproportionate force to hold the resistance in check remains the norm. Even peaceful resistance is not tolerated. Gool episode from all available evidences proves the obvious, not withstanding the routine show of innocence of tweeting Chief Minister. A chief minister who boasts of 60 t0 80% vote in election after election has to be answerable. Mere condemnation of one indiscreet act after another of security forces by the chief minister and his cabinet makes a poor defence.

There is not even a whiff of political process, the norm in democracy that India boasts of. Kashmir continues to be India's soft politico-diplomatic soft underbelly. And India would have to think big and develop a political plan to address the issue. State routine hardly shows evidence of that, as state violence multiplies.

Tailpiece: heard wit say- is AFSPA legal enough to be called legal? Your guess could be as good as mine!

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]

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News Updated at : Sunday, July 21, 2013
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