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Saturday, November 12, 2011

The AFSPA darkness

The manner of grinding discussion over the issue of removal of infamous armed forces special power act (AFSPA) leaves one in a dilemma. Does it fall in a genre of satire or it comes under the gambit of a tragedy, the whole saga is purported as Machiavellian but in reality has more of a Shakespearean tinge over a sinister background of darkness of cruelty. The draconian act provides a cover of impunity to the army and paramilitary forces operating in Kashmir; in summer of 2010 same paramilitary forces killed over and above hundred unarmed protestors protesting against the excesses committed by forces and specifically for the removal of the draconian act. Howsoever insensitive that might sound; those killings in the summer of 2010 pale in comparison to the heinous crimes perpetrated over the years by the forces under the garb of that very act. The catalogue is unending and tales are rending. Stories of fake encounters, tortures, harassments and killings of innocent civilians are so rampant that the consequence has been the numbness of emotions and feelings. Entire population of Kashmir valley has been brutalized and dehumanized; acts of omission by the armed apparatus of the state would qualify as criminal acts in any civilized society.  At the height of disturbances in 2010 Indian government even made pretense of discussions over the removal of the act. But then, in an unprecedented phenomenon army and its commanders were given a free reign to oppose any dilution of the act. It is not just the opposition, but also the degree of its vehemence that sends a cringe and allows a peak into vastness and ugliness of the machinery that fuels itself on the miseries of civilian population in Kashmir. In any civil and democratic set-up the role of armed forces is subservient to civil authorities; societies and countries let their armed forces intervene into policy issues only at their peril. The loosening of the hell that followed Omar Abdullah’s declaration of intent of partial withdrawal of the act is revealing. Far from the autonomy, the Chief Minister of the state that is not even qualified to pronounce policy matters over the issues those are within the preview of his authority as the chairperson of so-called unified command. It is hardly an epiphany to see electronic media with its paraphernalia complete with pseudo-journalists muddle the issue by allowing army officers spew venom in a villainous manner of K. N. Singh and have another ex-army general declare that recruitment in army will stop, if the act is diluted by invoking death of his army son in a combat. And the worst was yet to come in the manner of blabbering by a top army general over gruesome Pathribal murders. It might never occur to those perpetrators of pseudo-nationalism that the instrument of accession signed by the erstwhile ruler of the state was provisional with very limited extension of acts of Indian law over the state. Extension of any law required assent of the state constituent assembly that dissolved itself in 1958. That fact renders all extension of Indian laws over the state illegal and one may add here that subsequent extension of provisions of Indian constitution over the state was carried out surreptitiously and with vicious mal-intentions. Were it not for those acts of duplicity and dishonesty by Indian state, Omar Abdullah would not be even discussing the issue. 
-Rajiv Kumar  

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