Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fake Encounters? Kashmiris Deserve Better

Rekha reflects on the ideals on which India was founded and how fake encounters are a disgrace to its good name

(Prof. Rekha Chowdhary, 55, was born in Jammu and has been a university teacher for the past 30 years. She is currently the Professor of Political Science, University of Jammu. During her distinguished teaching career, she was the visiting Fellow under a Ford Foundation grant at the Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford, in 1992-1993; winner of the Commonwealth Award availed at the University of Oxford, 1997-1998; and the Fulbright Fellow availed at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at the Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC, in 2005.)

Fake encounter and Indian Civil Society

With another incident of fake encounters in Kashmir, it is a moment of introspection for the political and civil society of India. For all those who are proud of Indian democracy, it is a moment to reflect as to how this democracy fares for the people in Kashmir.

It is important to note that democracy does not remain limited to the electoral choices and the extent and intensity of competition in the formation of government – it also involves the political and civil rights of people. Even when democracy has been restored in Kashmir in its procedural form and is kicking in the form of intensely competitive politics, its substantive effect is missing. The right to life is minimum that is provided by any democracy, the range of rights however goes much beyond this and involves the basic civil liberties as well. However, the way the hapless innocent persons were cruelly murdered in Nadihal in north Kashmir and declared as militants – it is the denial of the minimum. It is not only the murder of three people; it is also the murder of Indian democracy!

It is a moment of introspection for all those who believe in the strength of the Indian nation and would vouch for equal citizenship rights for all Indian nationals. The citizenship right of these three Kashmiris has been mercilessly violated. Were these three people not entitled to the basic rights which rest of Indians are entitled? And the way they have been killed in fake encounters, does it not go against the spirit of the Indian Constitution. Does the writ of Indian constitution not extend to this part of the country? And this is not the isolated case. There are many more exceptions which can be quoted. Are Kashmiris not equal citizens of India?

It is a moment of reflection for all those who declare Kashmir to be integral part of India. It should be a matter of great concern to them that in one part of India, three Indians have been used as a fodder for the personal benefits of few individuals. What about the rights of these people? How can one take a position that Kashmir is integrated with India, if the rights enjoyed by all Indian are not extended to the people of Kashmir? And why should there not be a vociferous response of condemnation of the killing of the gullible Indians? That is if Kashmiris are seen as integrated part of India?

It is also a moment of reflection for the political decision and policy makers. The three Kashmiris have been the victims of the planned cold-blooded murder by those whose job was to protect them. The army personnel involved in their killings had the justification to be posted in Kashmir, to protect the Indian territory and Indian nationals. In what condition these individuals could get the ‘power’ to plan and kill the innocent Indian nationals and declare them as the militants–the enemies of the Indian nation? Was this act merely a result of the individual greed for promotions and rewards by few black sheep in the forces or was it because these few individuals felt empowered by the immunity that the forces enjoy because of the special powers granted to them?

It is a moment of reflection for Indian media, Indian middle classes, Indian intellectuals and the Indian civil society. The media and the middle class form the conscience of the nation and it is their strong reaction to various offences committed by the mighty that justice has ultimately prevailed. Most recently, we have seen this happening in campaign against Rathore in Ruchika’s case. Earlier the middle class and media have made their intervention in various other cases. Why are they silent about the ruthless killing of three Kashmiris? Is it because those killed are from the poorer section of society and do not form their major concern? Or is it because there are different standards for their responses and the killings in Kashmir are seen in different light? And what about the intellectuals? With the exception of very few, who are seen to be committed to the Kashmir cause and who openly identify with political perspective of Kashmiris, why are other intellectuals not feeling disturbed by the fake encounter? Are these cases seen as the ‘collateral damage’ in the fight of the Indian state against ‘terrorism’? Or they think that speaking against few faltering officials would demoralise the forces and weaken the case of the Indian State.

The most important question for the political and civil society in India that can be raised at this juncture is-do they own Kashmiris to be a part of their own and do they feel a sense of moral obligation for the three innocent Kashmiris killed by the ‘erring’ agents of the Indian state? If so, the minimum that is expected is that a voice to be raised against the act and justice demanded.

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