From Istanbul to Sopore One is the place of justice, another crime

Nazim Rashid; this name in 2011 sounds like Tufail Mattoo in 2010. The news of a youth cut short at 28 was a shocking reminder that we are actually living in a police state. (Remember, Sopore is a Police District of this Police State.) Our right to life is contingent on their ease and unease with our ways of living and not-living. Dense. It can be simplified this way; we are all living on a parole.

The custodial killing of Nazim opened up all the wounds, all over again – old, not so old and just inflicted. Wounds that date back to the chilling years of 1990s. Cuts that belong to crackdowns by army and  paramilitary. Lacerations that unmistakably point towards the bloody creatures like Task Force  and Special Operations Group. Money, Medals and Promotions; custodial killings brought it all. Kashmir is a place where killers wear uniform, have an office and draw salaries. What a modern day slaughterhouse!

According to the confession of a ruling party member, at least 60% of the killings that happened last year were avoidable. That means at least 70 killings out of the total 120 that were committed by the State – run by National Conference and its coalition partner, Congress – are pending punishment. This is by their own admission. But has even one person been punished when a full year has passed. And when this point is made, it is not in the expectation that any of the killers will be punished. Never. Had there been any sense of rule by law, Omar Abdullah would have  spurned the chair which he bear-hugs so obsessively. The repeated statements made by this government that the culprits will be taken to task appears like a shameless act when more than a hundred killings in 2010 go unpunished. Who is this government trying to make a fool of by making some ‘prompt’ statements and some ‘quick’ administrative actions in the area of crime. It is not any love for justice that some sense of urgency is displayed by the government. Even a kid in the Kashmiri street knows that it is the fear of what happened last year that the government is sending out an impression of fighting the fire. It is not for the sake of justice, it is not for the pain of losing a life, it is not for the problem of runaway police, this government is losing sleep only because 2010 suddenly appears like an apparition ready to devour all around. A place where a shoe hurled at the CM entails dozens of suspensions minutes after the incident happened, finds it all well after 120 people were done to death. And now they want to tell us that the custodial killing of Nazim has hurt them and they are serious in doing justice. Kashmiris are helpless, is a fact. Kashmirs are fools, is not.

When Sopore was becoming the scene of an ugly crime, a far off place – Istanbul – was resonating with the sounds of justice.   Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court announced the judgment in a case of murder. The culprit was eventually sentenced to an imprisonment of more than 10 years according to the law of the land. It was the famous murder case in which a journalist,  Hrant Dink was killed by a shooter. Markar Esayan, whose friend and fellow worker, Hrant Dink, was  killed in 2007, wrote in a Turkish daily;

“the ruling has me convinced justice has been served.”

This sounds like the triumph of the human spirit. The victory of justice. And while reading this, one only wonders will the time come in Kashmir when some friend of Nazim cries out that the ‘justice has been served.’ Will the time come in Kashmir when every murder will be accounted for. Will the sun rise to see the criminals of this land facing the courts. Will the guilty be hanged. Will the tribunals be held to pronounce judgment against those who lord over our lives these days. Will the blood speak one day to identify the killer and will the people have the last laugh and murders are pursued to gallows. Will the day come! Will the moment arrive! What will that moment be like. The day of judgment, the moment of justice.

That moment would not be, and must not be, about a case of murder, a custodial killing, or an act of torture being finally proven and the punishment announced. If it is only this it would be false. It must be a moment when the reasons of injustice are identified. It must be a moment when the entire structure of injustice is pulled down.

Very apt words from Dink’s friend on an occasion when the killer is punished.

“Rest assured, I want this investigation to reveal every detail not just because Hrant Dink was my close friend but also because this country has a deep state. One statement I use a lot is: “Dink’s murder is a murder that looks at the deep state of Turkey from the top.”

Nazim’s killing is a killing that looks at the deep militarised condition of Kashmir from top. It’s frighteningly cavernous. It must end. It must end, for the sake of life.

Feedback at mrvaid@greaterkashmir.com