Normalcy and AFSPA are incompatible


By Hassan Zainagiree
 
            The hubris driven attitude of the Defense Forces on the revocation of Armed Forces Special Forces Act {AFSPA}, in disregard to and conflict with that of state government, exposes the masculinity of the "elected people" on the helm of affairs, it indicates which holds preeminence and who matters in the decision making process. Is  it civilian government, enjoying what they say ‘electoral mandate’ that calls the shots and commands compliance and subordination from all organs of the state, or the show is just to camouflage the naked reality: that in JK, the civilian government only acts as a shield  to otherwise military rule of India. And that it is the garrisoned writ that prevails.
 
            That under the makhoota {mask} of civilian rule to the arrogance of 18th century imperialistic power dominates the relationship between Delhi and Srinagar became crystal clear when top brass in olive green and Khaki virtually pissed at the statement of the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
 
            Speaking at Police Commemoration Day function at Zewan last week, 21 October, Omar stated with "aplomb" that AFSPA will be removed from some areas {which, he, however, did not specify} in the state over the next few days. ‘The time has come ‘, Omer told the function, ‘for the revocation of laws {AFSPA} which were invoked in the state after militancy from some areas in the state over the next few days’. The seemingly independent assertion by the civilian head perturbed the Delhi rulers. This was followed by sending the high profile team comprising of Cabinet secretary, the Home Secretary, and the Defense Secretary to Kashmir. The hectic deliberations in civil, army, administration and Raj Bhavan point to the uneasiness the statement created in the power structure ‘we haven’t even’, thumping his nose of arrogance up tells a Srinagar based top Army official to Greater Kashmir {25 October} after holding parleys with the said team , ‘thought about AFSPA yet. Nor we have discussed it in our meeting’. Earlier in a meeting, Security Forces including Army, CRPF and BSF have expressed their reservation of AFSPA in front of the visiting team from Delhi. According to sources the Defense Security Shasi Kant Sharma shared the "apprehension" of the Army and other agencies with the chief minister that revocation of AFSPA can stimulate militancy in the state.
 
            It can be argued, and quite convincingly, that the Kashmir CM’s popularity ratings has suffered a lowest of low in the recent time. Nazim Rashid’s killings in police custody followed by recent mysterious death of his party key worker Syed Yousuf and dead silence of his party in assembly which facilitated in aborting Er. Rashid’s clemency bill on Afzal Guru—–not to mention the brutal murder of 117 people {most of them in teens} in last year’s summer uprising — has smeared the identity of the Omar Abdullah and his family. The latest move therefore, is a clever effort on his part to bolster his sagging image. Already the PDP, another pro-Indian group with regional straps, is giving the NC a bitter challenge. On the political landscape which has all but pro-Indian trappings both are head butted against each other and want to outwit the other.
 
            Read in this context, the Omar Abdullah’s latest endeavor of announcing funeral of the draconian law has a political motive. The element of sincerity and seriousness is lacking. It is just to gain public sympathy. It is since three years his party is in power with Congress. The legal experts say that assembly is powerful enough to revoke the balck law by passing a resolution in the assembly in this affect. Once, the experts say, the state government withdraws notification of Disturbed Areas Act, The AFSPA loses the legitimacy and legality to stand on. That simple innocuous thing the pro-Indian groups don’t do. Their detouring instead of taking a straight path is to hood wink the credulous people of Kashmir and the world.
 
            Irrespective of the intended benefits Omar aims to reap in by embarking on such a path, the point is there is absolutely no need for AFSPA to retain its dreadful hold in a place where militancy is all but thing of the past. It has been defanged and is dispirited now. Insisting on imposition of the black law serves the other purpose. Holding entire population of Jammu and Kashmir especially Muslim dominant areas —under military jack boot. And giving the forces the license to kill and shoot on ‘suspicion’ of being a militant. Paradoxically Indians take pride of normalcy in Kashmir to the extent that ‘valley welcomes nearly seven lakh of tourists this year’. Well, then there are seven lakh of ‘security forces’ pitted against such a little population in Kashmir? Doesn’t this demonstrate India holds Kashmir through military might? Normalcy and AFSPA can not be sheathed together.