Blood spills in Kulgam
July 9, 2018
Only a peace initiative can break this horrifying cycle of violence, abuse and endless tragedies
The face of a 16 year old girl, taken for her funeral in Kulgam, is the new defining image from Kashmir, revealing the ugly depths to which this brutal warfare is descending. The girl was among the three people shockingly and horrifyingly killed in a tiny hamlet of Havora in Kulgam on Saturday. The circumstances that lead to the killing are not entirely clear. One report mentions that the villagers started pelting stones when the army personnel approached the village and yet another mentioned that they were attacked by stones when they started cordon and search operations. It is needless to emphasize that there is need to fairly investigate the case and pin the blame, though the hopes of this are wishful in the backdrop of thousands of such cases where justice remains unaddressed. The incident highlights two things. One is the spiraling graph of human rights violations. Second is the alarming gravity of the situation where both the security forces and the unarmed civilians are constantly drawn into combat positions. In the absence of any effort to bridge this divide through a political engagement, confidence building measures or peace initiative, the Valley has been virtually pushed into a civil war situation from where there seems little escape. While civilian resistance is becoming more and more violent, the repressive measures of state’s agencies and human rights abuse in various forms has reached a crescendo.
India’s track record on human rights in the last three decades in Jammu and Kashmir has been shamefully distressing. Several international human rights bodies have already indicted India and warned Indian government and its security agencies against excesses but the situation has not changed. A recent report by the UN which is a strong indictment of Indian forces has been virtually rubbished even though the latter’s claims are out of sync with the ground reality of Kashmir, where youngsters are being lowered in their graves by responding to their anger and violent protests with bullets and pellets. This use of force is in violation of the Standard Operation Procedures and is also highly disproportionate. India stands committed to respecting human rights internationally. However, it does precious little to bring in check the graph of violations. Nor is there any commitment to probe the cases of abuse. Extra judicial laws like AFSPA give a blanket impunity to the soldiers accused of violations and other methods of cover-up are common, like tampering of evidence, refusal to register cases and dilly dallying ways. While violations by non state actors including militants are equally condemnable, the comparisons would be odious for the very fact that the state has an obligation to protect the human rights of its citizens, not encourage excesses, much less offer protection to the perpetrators in uniform. However, in Kashmir such brazen violations are treated with apathy and there is a tendency to normalize the human rights abuse with a repulsive legitimacy in the name of security and national interest, which is unacceptable and needs to be challenged.
The hot pursuit militaristic policy being followed in the last three years has not just not yielded any dividends but has further pushed the Valley into a vortex of violence where civilians are ready to combat forces with stones and bricks in hand or are being pushed into the throes of militancy. It is a losing war for both sides amidst reckless bloodshed, human losses and endless tragedies. The more militaristic the state’s agencies get, the more the resolve of the civilians to be not cowed down gets strengthened. The political dispensation by abdicating its responsibility of entering into a meaningful dialogue has only ended up strengthening violence and brutality as well as shrinking the peace constituency in Kashmir. That, apart from the human tragedies, is a major loss. With time running out, the Valley may well be reaching a blind alley from where even the feeble hopes of building a space for peaceful resolution of the dispute may become impossible.
News Updated at : Monday, July 9, 2018