ARMY & AFPSA


(By Abdul Majid Zargar)
Omar Abdullah may be in CM’s chair but he is not in command of  the  affairs of the state. That was proved by outgoing Army  General Hassnain’s Statement that AFPSA  will not go from Kashmir. He also said that election to Muncipal corporations of Jammu & Srinagar is likely to be held in October-November of this year. His statement has  proved  beyond doubt that he knows & can do much  more than Omar Adullah & other politicians of state  put together know or can do.
The Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir had  been running between Srinagar & New-Delhi  since the state legislature passed a resolution to authorize the partial withdrawal of AFPSA  from the state. The army since then has been claiming that its operative framework would be compromised should the law be withdrawn. At one stage, even the Home Minster, P.C.Chidambram appeared  to be on board with omar  in scrapping AFPSA, atleast from few areas if not all. But the Army and its votaries in New-Delhi have had the last laugh by exercising their veto power.
And why only AFPSA. The  army has intruded into every  inch of the space legitimately belonging, but left vacant by the State administration. It is organizing Sadbhavna tours for our young boys & girls. It is organizing sporting tournaments. In the border areas it is arranging primary school education for young & teenage boys. In cities & towns, it already has schools  In Cantonment areas  as well as Sainik Schools in few towns of the State.  As per informed reports, it is also in the business of generating electricity in areas facing deficiency of power. It renders   medical aid to Border area residents as well. In short each & every important sphere of life has been covered by it.   

There is no denying the fact  that the army’s role is primarily to protect the country’s border, and not to maintain law and order or indulge in other activities, at the expense of superseding the legitimate writ of the government, and thus in essence of the people. The army and the Government of India should not have pushed the matter to such ridicule.

Army’s demand to continue with AFSPA against the decision of the state legislature is against its constitutional mandate, to be under civilian fiat, and opposes the supremacy of the people. That some officers in the army are applying unwarranted and inappropriate pressure upon the government not to withdraw the law from operation is in essence insult of legislative wisdom. It reiterates the universal truth that an army, if allowed to operate with impunity, would not prefer to return to be under the control of civilian authority.

There is no merit in the army’s contention that the soldiers follow their code of conduct when operating in areas where the AFSPA is enforced. The AHRC has documented more than 300 cases so far where the army has openly violated every expected norm of operative justice and law, where AFSPA is in force. The conversation of the dead from hundreds of unmarked graves identified by the State Human Rights Commission of Jammu and Kashmir is gruesome proof to the fact that the Indian Army has ‘done their job’ as it suited them. That thus far there has been not a single prosecution or independent and transparent investigation concerning the unmarked graves in the state reiterates that the impunity is absolute. What is more worrying is  that even the judicial arm of the State has lent it it’s helping hand in perusing its nefarious agenda.

At the very least, it is not for military generals of the country to decide administrative and security policies. Neither should a uniform, irrespective of the number of medals hanging on it, subdue legislative wisdom. The massive disaffection and alienation of the people of J&K  against  praetorian India is being  managed  by creating  a police state  and buying the loyalties of a  miniscule section of  the populace. In Kashmir Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the Army  for India.
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feed back at amzargar1@indiatimes.com)