Revelation of yet another fake encounter in Surankote, which previously both police and army confidently circulated as a prize kill, is not just a manifestation of the continuum of a repressive regime. It is also an indicator of the fact that the government has refused to learn lessons from the past in bridging the gap with the masses. Last year’s five month long period of extreme turbulence is not so far away to have allowed the powers that be to slip into some kind of a complacent mode over human rights abuse. Though there are multiple causes behind the increasing frustration of the people, ranging from lack of development and shambled economy to joblessness, human rights violations, atleast in more than half the state, lies at the core of this deepening resentment and sense of alienation. And yet, despite lip promises, recent incidents across the state, particularly the Valley shed light on the lack of any initiative. The Surankote case was preceded in quick succession by Sopore custodial killing and before that cases of rapes and other forms of torture, all followed by shoddy investigations. These handful of cases cannot be seen in isolation. There is a shocking background of gross violation of human rights including custodial deaths, custodial disappearances, fake encounters,
arbitrary arrests, torture, rapes and molestations. In the backdrop is also the memory, still fresh, of 130 deaths while tackling street protests in the most brutal and inhumane ways; 120 of these died in the five months of summer agitation alone. The common thread that runs through the entire landscape of such brutalities is a multi-pronged strategy followed by the government – of obfuscating truth, refusal to meet out justice and circulating by way of propaganda two notions. The first is to brand every campaigner for justice as a supporter of jehadi terror and second to invoke a list of repressive human rights abuse by non state actors, militant groups, in an unconvincing bid to dwarf the violations by the security forces. Such strategies have multiplied the outrage of the people, as witnessed last year. The frustration that pours into streets, sometime in the most virulent forms, however has made the government no wiser in sensing that democracy (which goes beyond the simple vote bank politics) and not repression is the key to win over atleast a bit of the faith and confidence of the people.
Untruths and denial of justice hurts the sensibilities of people, even in regions of the world where there is no history of gross violation of human rights. The ongoing riots in London bear a testimony. The hooliganism, rioting and looting going on by mobs on rampage in London and other parts of England cannot be justified or condoned. But at the same time, it would be na‹ve to simply see the rioting in isolation and fail to learn lessons from the fact that it stems from years of growing gap between the rulers and the ruled, and has been finally sparked by the cold blooded murder by police of a black man last week and followed by circulation of cock and bull story about the killing. Such repression is unacceptable to people. London is no Jammu and Kashmir where such fake encounters and custodial killings have become familiar part of the landscape. The latter is much too fragile and sensitive a place and needs greater care and caution for handling situations as it runs a greater risk of upheavals and turmoils. All it needs is accountable governments and accountable security agencies of the government, both of whom are answerable to the public for murders and wrongs perpetuated on the people, without the necessity of untruths and concocted versions to stonewall justice. Repeating the follies over and again will only allow the rulers to repeat history of perpetuation of damned lies that snowball into something disastrous.