In the year 1980 in Bhagalpur 21 alleged criminals were blinded by police department in a bid to curb crime rate in the state of Bihar. Their eyes were pierced by a takwa (long needle), and then acid was poured into them to ensure complete blindness.
This barbarity exposed by veteran journalist S N M Abdi, then working for M J Akbar’s Sunday magazine had created a furore in the Parliament and had brought Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to tears.
37 years later the Government has once again taken to the same inhuman tactic but this time the victims of governmental brutality are not 21 alleged criminals but hundreds of unarmed civilians including five year old children in Kashmir.
The takwa and acid have been replaced by pellet guns. The Prime Minister far from being remorseful is conspicuously silent and M J Akbar the then chief of Sunday magazine is now a BJP minister.
Pellets fired in response to peaceful protest against the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen’s Burhan Wani by armed forces have so far blinded more than 160 civilians in Kashmir.
Even as the justifiability of protesting for Wani’s death is highly subjective and debatable considering the conflicting views of government and Kashmiri people about Wani, what is not at all debatable is that responding violently to unarmed protests is absolutely unwarranted.
Protest against governmental action or inaction is a democratic right which was recently used in states of Gujarat and Haryana too. Those large scale protests despite even turning violent at times did not prompt the sadistic reaction from our government that Kashmiri protests did.
India’s step-motherly treatment to Kashmir is nothing new. Arbitrary arrests, beating of suspects’ family members and collective punishment to entire neighbourhoods are few of the many atrocities that security forces in Kashmir are guilty of.
According to a report of Research Section of Kashmir Media Service released this month, security forces have killed 94,290 Kashmiri civilians since January 1989. These killing have left 22,806 women widowed and 107,545 children orphaned.
The report also states a staggering figure of 10,167 cases of molestation of women by troops.
More than 8000 cases of custodial disappearance and 6,050 cases of property damage are claimed in the report.
Our nationalist media has historically shied away from showing the true picture of Kashmir to its viewers. Selective outrage and a skewed coverage of events in the media have played their own part in projecting Kashmiris in a negative light.
Which government possessing untainted intentions and a sane mind turns its guns on its own people?
With our armed forces beastly acts which have attained culmination in recent days we have remained no better than the Syrian regime which had used chemical weapons on its own unarmed population or Egypt which had mercilessly shot down its own protesters.
Though America and Israel too have the blood of thousands of Iraqi, Yemeni, Japanese, Syrian, Afghani and Palestinian non-combatant civilians on their hands they have never turned their guns on their own people.
The increasing civilian support to Kashmiri separatists is a direct result of centre’s neglect of Kashmiri problems (high illiteracy, unemployment, poverty, natural disaster management etc) and excesses committed by armed forces on the unarmed civilians in the name of suppressing militancy.
Separatists too are guilty of their own set of crimes against humanity that include driving Kashmiri Pandits out of their homeland, bombing unsuspecting crowds, summary executions and torture of Kashmiri populace to name a few.
Since last three decades both the Kashmiri separatist movement and the Indian state’s measures to counter it have attained only alleviated destruction, more misery on Kashmiri people and a lot of innocent blood on the hands of both.
Skilfully eluding any discussion Article 370, government after government has not only allowed the fire to rage in Kashmir but has also added fuel to it from time to time.
After the independent elections of 2002 when political pundits had started to foresee a resolution to Kashmir’s problem Governor B K Sinha took away the arrangements of Amarnath Yatra from the hands of local Muslims who had been looking after it since decades and handed it over to the shrine board, thereby creating a fresh wave of unrest in Kashmir.
To quote Dr. Ram Puniyani, Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy and many other thinkers and intellectuals, Kashmir’s solution lies in ‘self-determination’ by people of Kashmir.
A plebiscite once proposed by United Nations never happened because India and Pakistan refused to withdraw their armed forces from the region.
Another spot on analysis….a bit ‘hatkae’ from the nationalist naraative……during the recent jat stir in haryanna…thousands rampaged thru burning and looting…aahh and yes…mass rape in murthal….but no force was applied and ceratinly not the pellet guns…..but the mainstream patriots ..aalaa..arnab goswami and chetan bhagat …”mir jaffar / m j akbar” of “atuuth anng/ kashmir ” have simply glued their lips……wonder what the ..mainstream patriotic indians..would endorse this brutality in service of bhaarat maataa….as long as muslim blood flows down the drain….then there is moment to rejoice and endorse psuedo patriotism.