Behind the iron curtain Unmistakable signs of a totalitarian regime

Paradoxically while the chief minister Omar Abdullah and his party have been repeatedly singing the song of “atoot aang”, adnauseam asserting that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, his government has gone to the extreme by debarring the entry of the human rights activists from the country to enter the troubled state. Omar Abdullah himself has been fuming and fretting over the voices being raised within and outside the State against the reign of terror let loose on the people by his government and the unabated grave human rights abuses resorted to by his police and other security forces, armed with blanket powers and enjoying the culture of immunity. The events of the past one year with as many as 120 civilians including children killed in brutal police action against those protesting against the atrocities committed by the forces, arresting a large number of people including minors under the Public Safety Act, a lawless law aimed at silencing the voices of dissent and protecting the ruling elite from popular wrath, detaining the political leaders, senior advocates and civil society members or putting them under house arrests, imposing a permanent ban on the holding of rallies and processions under the obsolete section 144 of the criminal procedure act, silencing every voice of dissent by using coercive methods, placing curbs on the freedom of the press, presence of large number of gun-wielding soldiers in olive and khaki in every nook and corner of the Valley and the existence of large number of bunkers in civilian areas are unmistakable signs of a totalitarian state. The political executive has surrendered its authority to the police with the police and army determining the agenda for the government.

After the indefencible act of the State government in debarring the entry of noted peace activist Gautam Navlakha and detaining and deporting him illegally, the CM and his cohorts are now gunning for other well meaning political leaders and civil society members concerned about the suffering of the besieged people and keen for genuine peace in the State and the region as a whole. The ruling National Conference’s demand for strong action against noted Indian lawyer and members of the Parliament and peace activists like Ram Jethmalani, Ram Vilas Paswan, Arundhati Roy, Madhu Kishwar and several others clearly betrays a fascist mindset. The crime of these notables is that they have the courage of conviction to speak the truth. For the rulers who believe in the axiom of “speak no truth, hear no truth and see no truth” calling a spade a spade is indeed the biggest crime.

The chief minister while repeating his threat to use iron rod against the visiting human rights activists and the dissenting political leaders and activists in Kashmir, claims that he would not allow any one to disturb the “prevailing peace” in the Valley. The peace about which the CM has been boasting is only the peace of the graveyard, with all protests and rallies of the political opponents banned, an iron curtain raised around the Valley to conceal truth, the police and security forces let loose to silence all voices of dissent and keeping the innocent youth and political leaders behind bars.

The State rulers failure to scrap the draconian laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and PSA, which have been blatantly misused to stifle the voice of dissent and suppress the genuine political urges of the citizens, their refusal to probe into the killings of innocents, release all detenues, remove the bulk of troops from the civilian areas, remove curbs placed on the people’s right to protest and hold rallies speak of a state of mind that lacks faith in democracy and democratic norms.