By Hassan Zainagiree
1. ‘The right to dissent and the right to protest are basic rights in an open society. However, we find that more often than not such protests turn violent. We saw indiscriminate stone pelting in J&K in the summer of 2010’.
__P. Chidambram, New Delhi. 14 September 2011
2. ‘ I was not allowed to visit residence of Syed Masood Geelani who is father-in-law of my daughter. This is undemocratic and unconstitutional that I am not being even allowed to participate in the funeral prayers of my relatives. It is shameless act’.
‘My house has been turned into a garrison. There is no order for my house arrest but despite that I am not being allowed to move out. Police lies when it says I am free to go anywhere ……..Statewide crackdown has been launched against Tehreek-e-Hurayat activists’.
__Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Srinagar, September 17, 2011
Swelling his chest and strutting his chin up, Indian Home Minister sounded that he and his United Progressive Alliance government believe in providing political space to all shades of opinion. The only condition is that the mode of expression had to be peaceful and non-violent.
On the face of it Mr. Chidambram’s assertion is truly compatible with the democratic values and the common rationality. Violence has no place in a society that tolerates dissent. But why should people resort to violence when they have all and equal opportunities and facilities ‘two and two always makes four’ freedom to point to ugly scars of the government in itself freezes the choice to violence. Anyway a government cannot be expected to act as a mute spectator when people take to violence. But the moot point is when the authorities curb every democratic activity and people in retaliation are forced to stage demonstrations against this totalitarian approach and government in name of ‘maintaining law and order situation’ resort to violent means , even use lethal weapon against the innocent protestors provoking them to hurl stones on the killer forces personnel, doesn’t the very response of the government is condemnable. If a stone pelter be a fit case for PSA invocation killer cop cannot be draped in sacred robes. In fact the disproportionate use of force by the state enhances the gravity of the crime. Doesn’t Chidambram knows the mass uprising of 2010 saw 114 civilians getting killed by ‘democratic’ India on roads of Kashmir and thousands disabled for life . how many soldiers and cops lost their limb, nay nail in stone pelting? None!
There is no intention on part of us to defend in any way stone pelting, the fact of the matter, however, is that suppression of dissent always creates lava of anger and waits for a vent to erupt. Summer of 2010 did show that .Rather getting any lessons Indians have resorted to add to the accumulation of this anger by denying political space to the political opponents that is pro-resistance forces.
Geelani’s statement absolutely negates the claim of P Cidambram. It is a caveat to the latter’s assertion. The pride balloon of Indian Home Minister gets deflated no sooner it enters the skies of Kashmir. The test of Indian democracy lies not in Delhi but in Kashmir the political turf of Kashmir provides the parameter to assess the difference between they and we. They the citizens of the Indian state and we the subjects. For them the Ram Lila Maidan is preened by the government here even the leaders are not allowed to participate in the funeral prayers of their relatives. Long live Indian democracy!
Was geelani going to address a protest rally reminiscent of last year’s violence? Did he in his speech ever instigate youth to stone-throwing or he always solicited pledges from youth in pursuing hundred percent peaceful means for the goal of independence? North block must be knowing that Geelani , whatever his political belief, has restrained youth even from using provocative slogans against India. That profile of Geelani and still not allowing him to attend funeral prayers of his daughter’s father-in-law! Gracious God, what is this happening in what Indian political class and media nawabs are fond of calling ‘crown of India’!
For Anna Hazari, Indian government rolls a red carpet because entire media is focused on his wagging a struggle against corruption . here for the mass leader even his own house is converted into a jail and his party subjected to worst witch hunt and Indian media doesn’t make a feeble cry over this double-standard in, what from their news channel and print pages is disseminated as ‘integral part of Kashmir’. That makes us to reach to the heart of the problem. They are victims of Geelanio-phobia.