AFTER a year’s exercise, the Kashmir interlocutors have finally concluded that the solution to Kashmir lies ‘within the framework of the constitution’, words that have always performed the job of showing the red rag.
Why Kashmiris find such stereo-typed phrases repulsive is rooted in their history of deprivation of political rights and their inability to choose their destiny. But why is it that those at the helm of affairs in Delhi, or their appointed persons feel the compulsive need to harp about a solution within the constitution or parrot the usual slogan of ‘Kashmir is an integral part of India’? It seems this exercise is tailored for self-convincing more than anything else.
The integral-ness of any other place in the country
never needs so much of endorsment as does in the
case of Kashmir. The constitutional framework is
invoked only when it comes to offering something to
Kashmiris. And why would something that Kashmiris
ought to have constitutionally as a right be offered as some kind of a benevolence?
Would this mean that what is constitutionally just and right does not exist in Kashmir already? Perhaps,so.
A peep into history will demonstrate this amply.
While the accession of Jammu and Kashmir remains one of the most baffling puzzles and contested,
Kashmir has been constitutionally integrated into India through the Article 370, which guarantees autonomy to the state. Does the exercise of erosion of this autonomy over a period of years, starting from 1952 qualify to be constitutionally just?
Is the overthrow and deposition of Kashmir’s elected representatives, events that deepened political alienation of the people, constitutionally egitimate? The manner in which politics of the state ever since has been controlled and manipulated by New Delhi, for short term ains, may be anything but constitutional. After the rise of militancy in 1989-90, New Delhi’s response to the rising insurgency has been through xtra-constitutional measures including the Armed orces Special Powers Act with extra-judicial and weeping powers given to security forces, with imposition of unlimited curfews, unconstitutional arrests and detentions and acts of torture that would raise the goose pimples of some of the most tyrannical dictators of the world.
Much of what happens in Kashmir goes beyond the Indian constitution, especially in terms of the rights of people, paralysed severely by way of restrictions and challenged through violent and humiliating ways. The constitution of India guarantees basic civil rights and liberties for all its citizens including those who live in what ust be pronounced ‘integral part of the country’ at the drop of the hat. Why do these fail to trickle down? Why must a State need a vast paraphernalia of forces, with sweeping extra constitutional powers, to silence its citizens nto submissiveness or to provoke them once in a while into an outrage? Why must it need the instrument of torture to outpower the citizens and then follow it up with complete denial to stonewall justice well within the ambit of the constitution? Neither use of torture and harassment of citizens or the absence of a legal justice system are enshrined in the Indian constitution. The liberty and dignity of the people, rather, lies at the core of the Indian constitution and this is something that has always been in short supply in the troubled state. When young boys are picked up and forcefully disappeared in custody, when they are killed in fake encounters and passed off as oreign militants so that some men in uniform can earn medals and promotions, when boys are killed at point blank range during protests in clear violation of Standard Operation procedure and also norms of humanity, when all calls for justice in these cases remain unheeded and even brutally crushed, is the government abiding by a constitution which stands for just the contrary.
When the State Human Rights Commission or any political bigwig talks about creating an independent commission for probing the issue of unmarked graves or other cases of human rights abuse, it is deemed as a bold and landmark suggestion. This is only a reflection of the fact that it is already a foregone conclusion that normal legal justice cannot and will not exist in this state. Is that a constitutional position?
The trouble with New Delhi and its henchmen harping about ‘constitutional’ solution is not only about what is being offered but how it being offered as some kind f an extra favour. It is also about putting the onus of respecting the constitution on the people, without the State even taking the responsibility of denial of constitutional rights to the people;
the denial itself being legitimised and justified. The implication of this is that the State is asking people to abide by a constitution without the State needing to abide by it when it comes to the question of rights of the people. When has constitution been respected by the State in Jammu and Kashmir? The year long exercise of the Kashmir
Interlocutors turns into a great farce, much on expected lines, when it sums up its observations without even labouring to ask that very ital question and treading the same beaten path, making the entire drill a sheer wastage of time and money.