Government must probe torture in Kashmir

So what does the mighty Government of India do now? Who does it arrest for sedition? Who does it push to the gallows for daring to say that the Government of India condones torture? The new Wikileaks revelations on Kashmir quote Red Cross officials as saying that their attempts to get the Indian government to take remedial measures had failed, and that the forms of torture included "use of electricity on suspects, suspending them from the ceiling and putting a roller or a round metal object on the thighs of the person and then having somebody sit on it, crushing muscles. Others had their legs stretched 180 degrees, or were subjected to various forms of water torture. More than 300 cases of sexual abuse were reported."

The pigeons have come home to roost, and with uncanny ability have found the right home. One can predict even before it has happened that the government and its minions will reject the WikiLeaks disclosures, and blame Pakistan. That has been the official response to human rights violations, custodial deaths, torture in Kashmir, Northeast and now even mainland India. I myself investigated the torture of young Muslim youth in Hyderabad, the manner similar to the above methods, with extensive interviews confirming every detail. This was a cover story, but there was no response, enquiry or follow up by the government, or for that matter, the political class of Andhra Pradesh and India. Nothing. Just blank silence.
The truth of Kashmir’s streets finds no place in government records or non-existent enquiries

The same approach sums up government response to the goings on in Kashmir. Nothing. Blank silence. Here the people are even more isolated and alone as the media does not walk with them, and in fact, looks the other way. The last six months have been particularly strenuous with over hundred young people having been killed by security forces for doing little more than throwing stones, over a hundred families have been destroyed in the process, and thousands have been picked up and put in jail. Their families do not know whether they will see them alive ever again, as there is every possibility of the young people joining the long list of the "disappeared" youth who have left behind weeping families and half widows suffering from deep stress related trauma and economic difficulties.

This is the truth of the streets of Kashmir. It does not find place in government records or non-existent government enquiries. It is the truth of the homes and of the people, and it is tragic that the government of Jammu and Kashmir, and the Centre, finds it easier to ignore the truth than deal with it. There is no point in gloating over the Wikileaks disclosures about other parts of the world — our babus and politicians had been having a pretty good time — when our own house is in such a total mess. Kashmir needs to be addressed urgently and one wonders at a political leadership that lives in denial, and does nothing for the people it has been targeting.

Every poor man in India has felt the pain of the brutal stick in and out of lock up. He knows that a night in prison comes with torture and degrading physical and mental violence against his very being. He also knows that there is no justice for him, and if by chance he is let out he should quickly go home and count his blessings. He knows that the real robbers and looters who have swindled his fortunes away in the Commonwealth Games scam, in the Adarsh Housing scam, in the 2G telecom scam and what have you will continue to remain part of the rich and powerful club, while his bones will be broken on trumped up charges. So it is in Kashmir. Except that here the richer too face the stick, and pay the price for even speaking out of turn.

WikiLeaks disclosures are a lesson waiting to be learnt. And a wise Government of India, instead of denials and venom, should embrace the disclosures as yet another warning from the skies. Pakistan and terrorism is another story that India and its officialdom can continue to tackle at various levels. The disclosures on Kashmir are a different story altogether and there should be a parliamentary, judicial probe into the deep suffering of the people of this border state.

Kashmir is not territory, it is land inhabited by people who live and breathe and aspire. New Delhi has taken away their aspirations, and now it is trying to interfere with their breathing. This has to be stopped.