Tragedy called Kashmir

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“Military presence usually involves custodial killings”, said my friend once. Probably it was easier for her to say that, since she never experienced it around her. She probably had seen something related to this on the news or probably seen it in some movie. In every second or third movie you see bad guys in police, capturing and killing innocents. Occasionally you see the efficient and honest police officer, who stakes everything to get stuff right in his department and in the society in general. Or you have a defiant protagonist, who goes against all odds to protect innocent civilians, often taking the law in hand. And all movies have a happy ending, with justice to the oppressed party. But it seems this happy ending is restricted to such movies only. In real life, there is no hero, no one to save innocents, at least not in the place where I live in.

 

Yes, I am talking about Kashmir. The essence of human rights has been lost years ago in Kashmir. “Life” probably has a different meaning in this land where the government itself has handed over draconian laws to the so called peacekeepers of the nation. The Indian military forces have caused havoc, brutally crushing human rights. No, I am not taking credit away from them for fighting wars, protecting borders, helping victims in natural disasters. Nor am I showing apathy towards them when they stand guarding places of the high officials under the constant fear of being hit by a bullet or being blown off. No wonder their life is not a bed of roses. But, if they are awarded for their gallantry, they need to be punished for their inhumane acts and murders. Innocent people often become victims of their outrage and indiscipline. But what is done against them? They are protected on the behest that the killed person was a member of a terrorist group. The truth shouted by the dead person’s near and dear ones echoes in the local papers and fades away. And yet again the military personnel escape punishment leading to an ever increase of human rights violations in the state. Punishment in fact is a far off thing to do; even suspension of such corrupt and erring officials does not take place. A life once lost cannot be brought back, and when it is an innocent then such death often gives rise to more retaliation and the buried anger explodes into desperate acts which often go against the law.

 

In the last seventeen years of trouble and turmoil that I have seen in Kashmir, I can clearly remember certain incidents which were brutal murders of innocents. The culprits as in most of the cases were never brought to court. Recently I was reading the book “Conflict in Kashmir” by Victoria Schofield. The author mentioned some incidents which involved people who were related to me in one way or the other – not necessarily through blood ties. It is amazing how each and every family in Kashmir has been through these rough patches. Either the victim is someone you know, or the witness is related to you. As a result you know that these incidents are not merely stories made up, they are sadly true with your relatives, friends, neighbors and other acquaintances being the witnesses or the victims.

 

The truth comes to us through one channel or the other. Printed in the local papers and absorbed in the hearts and minds of so many Kashmiris. Apart from the incidents being heartbreaking and distressing, the other sad thing about them is that they remain confined within the borders of the valley, with the national journalists doing no justice to them. The news is totally distorted and extracted of its essence by the time it reaches outside Kashmir. People are made to see and believe what the powerful men want them to see and perceive. The truth battles in Kashmir for days, months and years and finally gets buried in the numerous files lying in the offices. As a result the culprits get to continue their sabotage.

My brothers have been beaten up for no reason, some have even gone to jail for no reason whatsoever. But there are sisters and mothers in Kashmir who were not lucky like me. Their brothers were killed and labeled as terrorists. They became targets of the outrage of the gun holding men, protected and shielded by the state and the central government together. People in uniform have added to their stars by killing innocents in fake encounters. Detainees have been made to sign blank sheets of paper before being taken along and murdered in some remote corner of the valley. There have been eye witnesses of fake encounters, but those incidents have not been probed. Human shields have been used. Forced labor is a part of life for some villagers in Kashmir. Military has time and again killed children and villagers by ‘mistake’. Often deranged people are mistakenly killed. Women have been disrespected. Torture for the people of Kashmir has been both mental and physical. And yes every Kashmiri has been a witness to all such incidents. Every Kashmiri has suffered, and is still suffering.

The one who suffers knows it all. I sit here and feel for my fellow Kashmiri. I have been through a lot, but there are some who have been through worse. When will we get justice? Will such killings continue for ever? Can we not lead a normal life like other people? As I write this, I am sure there is some Kashmiri suffering for no fault of his. But the pangs of his suffering will only reach the minds of people who care for Kashmir. As for the ones who are painted with bias, Kashmir is just another news column! Sad world!

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3 Responses

  1. When will we get justice?

    Will we ever get an answer to this question?

  2. I think it will be after a lot of bloodshed.

    May allah save us

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