Deeper one goes into it, greater is the awareness about how in functional terms, Kashmir is NOT a part of India, contrary to the fairly convincing theoretical argument that it indeed IS so. Were it not so, usually ‘Kashmir hungry’ national media would not have missed to put the spotlight on sensational cash-for-vote scandal involving BJP MLAs in Jammu and Kashmir, at a time when, thanks to Anna Hazare, corruption in public life is a burning issue across the country. Not so long ago, the electronic media had provided ball-by-ball live coverage of a similar scandal, involving cross voting by some MPs over the US nuclear deal issue. And more recently, TV news channels remained locked to cover every minute aspect of Hazare-centric campaign against rampant corruption in high places.
Quite surprising that the illegal, immoral act of the seven of the BJP ‘Eleven’, exposed in the thick of a raging country-wide controversy, should have found no takers in the electronic media beyond Lakhanpore. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s self-defence (‘if proved we paid cash, I will quit’) is too weak to ward off the predominant impression that money had indeed changed hands because there are no free lunches in today’s world. Nothing secret about how political loyalties are traded in times of ‘need’. It obeys the simple economic formula of demand-and-supply.
Proof has never been easy to find in such cases—from the scandal involving the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MPs during PV Narasimha Rao’s tenure to, more recently, in the case of voting on the nuclear deal. Yet almost everyone believes that cross voting is universally paid for in heavy cash. National-media blackout of the tempting ‘live’ event in Jammu is intriguing.
However, so-called Fourth Estate is not the only entity to blame for keeping alive the impression that Jammu and Kashmir is NOT a part of a functioning India. Highly revered federal institutions have also done their bit to fuel this feeling.
In January this year two judges of the Supreme Court made a significant observation that merited—and got—wide media coverage. Hearing a case against alleged fake encounter by Andhra Pradesh police resulting in the death of Maoist spokesman, Cheurkuri Rajkumar (alias ‘Azad’), Justices Aftab Alam and RM Lodha said: “Our republic cannot behave like this and kill its own children. We hope there will be an answer… a good and convincing answer. The government will have to answer so many questions.”
Incidentally, Justice Alam happened to be a former chief justice of J&K high court which has been flooded with similar petitions alleging numberless fake encounters and involving scores of ‘children of the republic of India’. But never have we ordinary mortals in this part of India heard or seen the judiciary sharing such anguish as shown by the apex court in the case of a Maoist victim. On the contrary, judges showing any such ‘symptoms’ even remotely have been bundled out unceremoniously. High frequency of coming and going of chief justices of J&K high court reveals the unusually short shelf-life of the incumbent. Meanwhile the ‘republic’ continues to ‘kill its own children’ with impunity, fuelling the view that J&K is NOT a part of functioning India.
Apparently, not a single case out of the staggeringly long casualty list of 2010 summer, involving mainly ‘the children of the republic’, merits the type of judicial response witnessed in that solitary case before the apex court. Taking suo moto notice of suspected fake ‘encounter’ killings has become a well known practice BUT only outside of J&K.
Tragically, the head of yet another revered federal institution recently singled out J&K as if its people enjoyed some sort of extraordinary judicial benevolence. Army chief, Gen VK Singh was quoted about three months ago saying “there are various pressures at work in the Valley that leave a question mark on the kind of justice that can be expected to be delivered”
Speaking in context of the inquiry into the alleged Machhil fake encounter on the Line of Control in May last year in which three youths from Baramulla were gunned down, Singh said that the Army would complete its own inquiry into the matter before coming to a conclusion but suggested that the state’s judicial system would not be fair.
“I don’t know how much you are aware of the legal system in the Valley. There are various pressures out there. You are aware of Mian Abdul Qayyum, who was president of the Bar Association and is now in detention. He has been rabidly anti-Indian,” General Singh said, responding to a question on why the Army was resisting a civil trial of officers and soldiers who have been accused in the alleged fake encounter.
“With this kind of situation, what kind of justice would we expect or legal provisions would be followed, is the question mark. And that is why as per the laws and procedures laid down, we would like to complete our inquiry before we come to a conclusion,” the Army Chief said.
The inescapable impression from the army chief’s account is that the judiciary in J&K is unfairly tilted against the establishment and, by implication, favourably towards the ordinary people. What a tragic misconception!
If Kashmir were really a part of (functioning) India, these distorted perceptions would not be there. From media to judiciary and from civil administration to army, every institution has been bending over backwards to show how Kashmir is NOT a part of India despite labouring hard to demonstrate why it is a notional ‘atoot ang’ of this great country.