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The state and the subjects

Posted by Kashmir Portal on June 10, 2009

The state and the subjects
The root of the problem lies in the fact that India considers Kashmir as her colony and its people as subjects

Dr Altaf Pandit
A few weeks back I happened to be at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. I saw young girls wearing jeans and T shirts (occasionally even in long black Abyas) walking lonely through dark lanes and by lanes of the Institute past mid night, exhibiting confidence, exuberance and vibrancy of life; struggling to materialize their creative potentials and for pursuing higher standards of life, enriching the society amid their personal successes and achievements, alongside with their male colleagues.

These empowered young girls enjoy the fruits of liberty and freedom guaranteed by the constitution and an environment of protection and security the state is committed to provide to all its citizens, irrespective of the bias of gender, race, religion or ideology. That exhilarating peace of life and secure environment makes one feel envious.

Back home, every passing day brings with it a new story of crime and cruelty against our women folk. Not to speak of night, it has become difficult for our young girls to venture out in broad day light, without an escort. The recent gruesome murder and rape of two young girls , 17 year Asiya Jan and her three month pregnant sister-in –law Neelofar, in Shopian, has sent shiver down our spine. We observed strikes and the protests rocked the entire valley for a week. The CM ordered judicial inquiry and promised action against the perpetrators of this barbaric murder, irrespective of their affiliation with any of the ‘Security Forces’ (Though it is doubtful whether his jurisdiction extends to punishing the Indian Security Force personnel in case their involvement is proved, as they enjoy special immunity under Armed Forces Special Powers Act) . But the matter does not end here. We have been witnessing such crimes against women for decades now. The question is not only about investigating the circumstances leading to the death or murder of the two girls or of fixing responsibility. Neither is it only about letting public know who the killers are; the CRPF personnel as alleged by the parents of the victims or someone else. Neither is it only about relocating a CRPF or an army camp from one civilian population to another, as has been done in earlier cases; the maximum possible punishment for killing innocent civilians in Kashmir. The real matter which is the cause of worry is that a set of circumstances have been placed in order wherein such heinous crimes against women in particular and all citizens in general has become a routine issue. The quality of life we are condemned to live has degraded beyond limits and this pathetic state of affairs seems endless. It is no exaggerating the facts that in the ultimate analysis it is the state which emerges responsible thoroughly for sustaining such a set of circumstances, deliberately to strength the control of state organs over powerless people. For decades our women folk suffered and were deliberately targeted as a part of war game on both sides of the fence. Rape, molestation, imprisonment – physical and psychological abuse of women was used as weapon of warfare. Now, when the war is seemingly over, what are the different groups of armed forces doing there in villages, streets and in the immediate neighborhood of civilian population? Controlling the ordinary people! Restricting them from breathing freely? And when armed rebellion is over and militant power has almost vanished, why these crimes? To declare Victory! To convey the message “we are in control, we can do whatever we want with our subjects?”.

This is the basic difference. Our girls and our women are no different than those I saw in IISc, walking through streets past mid night. The only difference is that they are the citizens of a free democratic secular country and ours the subjects of an occupied land. Ours is an occupied land, where there are no laws, no security, no accountability and no freedom at all. Ours is an occupied land, not only in legal and historical context, but more importantly in circumstantial context. That is why life in Bangalore is drastically different than life in Kashmir. That is why the whole media and all NGOs, human rights groups, feminists and so called liberals throughout India were all anger when pubs were attacked and pub-going girls were humiliated. But the gruesome murder of the two young innocent girls, and the consequential mass protests didn’t even merit a mention in the “National Media”. Human right groups and Women Empowerment activists as usual maintained a criminal silence on this heinous crime against the two daughters of Kashmir. The emancipated and liberal democratic values of Indian state and civil society are in force up to Lakhnpur check post and beyond that the colonial mechanism extends with its own kind of draconian laws in application and with a repressive security system put in place which is immune to any sort of accountability and regulation.

On the very day the murder of two young girls in Shopian took place, our CM was discussing health care with Union Health Minister. How bizarre it looks that you are talking of health when there is no life; if life to you is not just breathing. Corruption, lack of work and work culture, deceit and deception, disproportionate rise in crime rate against women and other vulnerable groups, widespread drug addiction and proliferation, breakdown of law and order, sex abuse and scandals, overall degradation of social and moral fabric of life, economic deprivation, poverty and disease dominates our living conditions. All this emanates from the same source and characterizes the same set of conditions which are in place, linked directly or indirectly to one issue, that is strengthening the control of the state over ordinary people living in this part of the world. Thus, non resolution of the political future of Kashmir does not essentially only mean deferring a solution to a territorial dispute between two countries where each has a claim over a piece of land. It is more an issue pertaining to the quality of lives of millions of ordinary people, who are being denied the basic right of living a comfortable, decent, peaceful and purposeful life, free from the agonizing repercussions of an armed and political conflict. Thus, any solution to Kashmir problem should not aim at redefining the jurisdictions of political control and nature of influence of different powers that be, or to sell the ruling rights to new dynasties inside Kashmir; but to secure the right of all citizens – every man, women and child – irrespective of the identity of religion and class , to decide about all affairs of their lives by them alone, which includes the political affair as well.

(Writer teaches Chemistry at Kashmir University. He can be reached at panditaltaf23@ rediffmail. com)

http://www.risingka shmir.com/ ?option=com_ content&task=view&id=13663


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