IN KASHMIR DEAD HAVE BEGUN TO SPEAK UP

While the government goes about trying to silence the living , the dead have begun to speak up. The issue of unmarked mass graves is once again in focus in the international media. Starting with an article in Britain’s widely read & respected newspaper, “The Guardian” (http://www.guardian.co.uk /world/2012 /jul/09/mass-graves-of-kashmir?INTCMP=SRCH) and a short story relayed by Britain’s Channel 4( http: //www.dailymotion.com/video/xs3a3h kashmir-s-torture-trail-couchtripper.shortfilms),the issue has been followed up by America’s Wall Street Journal (http://blogs.wsj.com /indiarealtime /2012/07/10/channel-4-turns-spotlight-on-kashmir/) and Christain Science Monitor (http://www.csmonitor.com /World/Asia-South-Central/2012/0711/In-Kashmir-old-torture-centers-get-makeover) and finally by internationally acclaimed Time World magazine (“http://world.time.com /2012/07/11/kashmirs-fragile-calm-tensions-take-backseat-to-tourism).All this has exposed the human rights record of largest democracy before the whole world.

When David Barsamian, a US Radio Journalist, arrived at Delhi Airport on 23rd September, 2011 to do a story on discovery of mass graves in Kashmir, he was deported back within hours of his arrival. When asked the reason of his deportation, he had this to say: "It’s all about Kashmir. I’ve done work on Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Narmada dams, farmer suicides, the Gujarat pogrom, and the Binayak Sen case. But it’s Kashmir that is at the heart of the Indian state’s concerns. They want that the official narrative must not be contested."

It is this official narrative that has ultimately undone India. Till now India’s persecution of people of Kashmir has been buried under the rubric of "the world’s largest democracy. But the fact is that there is no democracy in Kashmir; only military rule and the law of the gun. In fact the presence of more than 700,000 Indian military and paramilitary forces have made Kashmir the largest army concentration anywhere in the world."

And what has not been tried in Kashmir? Starting with firing on mass congregations(Gow Kadal, Bijbehara, Zakura & Hawal etc) targeted killings (Dr. Farooq Ashai), killings through covert operations either to get rid of inconvenient people (Dr. Guroo)or with a purpose to defame its adversary(Five Foreign tourists), Killing of human rights activists(Jaleel Andrabi) rapes of young brides (Mubina Ghani) to rape of eighty year old women(Kunanposhpura), the State has even tried to incite sectarian divisiness in society( through dubious funding of NGO’s) and promotion of animosity between Muslims & Pandiths (Jagmohan’s Formula).

It has withheld permission to human right organizations to visit Kashmir. It has not even allowed its own human rights activists to look what is happening around. And it has browbeaten those who dared to write the reality. In fact it has conferred awards & promotions on those who have lent their helping hands in annihilating Kashmiri Muslims.

It is also a fact that up till now, no amount of barbarity on Kashmiris has caused any twinges of conscience to most Indians. Instead any adverse comment on their human rights record has always touched a raw nerve. And it is this attitude of Indians that has helped their Government to construct an official narrative which is devoid of reality.

Time has come when India should decide what next in view of limited options available. It ought to debate whether it should hold on to a people if those people do not want to be held on to. After all, the State is the sum of its people, and not some third-party presence to which we all submit.

Author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feed back at amzargar1@indiatimes.com