One more torture-death in police custody! One more young life snuffed out cruelly! One more hypocritical tweet from the chief minister!
The familiar vicious cycle is back in motion. A dehumanised system refuses to yield. 28 year old Sopore shopkeeper, Nazim Rashid, was arrested on Saturday by the notorious Special Operations Group (SOG) personnel allegedly in connection with investigation of a murder case. He died in overnight custody and his body bore visible marks of torture. In any civilised society these facts would be sufficient to acknowledge the truth that Nazim had become one more addition to the long-and ever lengthening—list of innocent young victims of state terrorism. Any regime with a minimum degree of moral consciousness and regard for human decency would have either prevented such carnage or preferred to pay the price for its own failure instead of trotting over-used hollow assurances.
Spontaneous ‘suspension’ of erring police personnel has been so over-used as a fig leaf that it does not get even registered with the aggrieved families or the public at large. During the last one or one and a half years, there have been at least half a dozen of cases where none less than the chief minister himself had announced ‘immediate suspension’ of guilty police personnel with public commitment to full investigation of cases and legal prosecution. Not a single case has been followed up. There seems to be method in the madness.
Admitted that this part of the world’s largest democracy has been and continues to be an area of darkness. Admitted that it is too dangerous and risky for the ‘national interest’ to let rule of law prevail in unruly Jammu and Kashmir. Admitted that the survival of the regime at the helm of affairs in the state depends on its willingness to mortgage its moral sensors. But what about the basic human conscience of those who are duty bound to protect the lives of the ruled? Nothing has changed since 2010. It seems that even the superficial democratic accountability is nowhere in sight.
It is obvious beyond doubt that the men in authority have got so used to this culture of impunity and unaccountability that everyone down the line feels free to indulge in lawlessness. More than anything else, it was this abominable permissive culture that was responsible for the mass upheaval through 2010 summer, resulting in killing of over 120 youngmen. That not a single case has so far been pursued seriously, much less taken to its logical conclusion, shows utter lack of sense of responsibility right up to the top. It is the tragedy of this state and its people to be ruled by such a callous mindset. It is like rubbing salt into the wounds to be told that the men at whose hands precious lives are being snuffed out at such alarming frequency were actually striving to ‘win hearts and minds’ of the local population.
Justice system seems to have collapsed while the politico-administrative system thrives on excesses and atrocities. An over-powering feeling of helplessness, meanwhile, continues to pervade the ground atmosphere. These are dangerous portents. It is in this type of situation that the proverbial ‘last straw’ lands on the camel’s back.
Nazim Rashid’s death in custody should not be mistaken as ‘usual’ addition to a long list of earlier casualties. There is a limit to testing human patience and straining public tolerance for acts against humanity and human decency.