War Crimes cannot be ‘Holy Book’?

“Holy book” is what one of the Indian army’s Lt. Generals called the AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act), the infamous draconian law under which Indian army rules over Jammu and Kashmir. BS Jaswal of the Northern Command was attempting to legitimize the barbaric law by comparing it to religious holy books.

Naturally it drew ire and statements of outrage and disgust from Kashmiri leaders and political parties. Barbarism and absence of due process may be legitimate in Hindu historical religious texts as we read in the epic stories of Mahabharta the Vedas, but no other legitimate religious texts condone tyranny as a legitimate tool to govern a civilized society.

Mr. Jaswal is not alone in this type of twisted Indian thinking. He merely stated the obvious. It probably was a Freudian slip, betraying the official policy of the rogue military. The scorched earth policy pursued by the army has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and incalculable suffering in the colonized Kashmir. This brutal and bewildering masochistic statement by an army general in command of Kashmir must give the world a pause to think about what really must be going on under Indian occupation in Kashmir far removed from the obtunded conscience of the civilized world. Jaswal’s statement is just the tip of the iceberg. What is practically happening is far more heinous and more systematic than his words suggested.

Kashmir, in reality, is a large prison just as an EU report called it only a few years ago. It is the “largest prison” as the report put it very aptly. This prison is guarded buy Jaswal-like ruthless wardens. Kashmiri is much larger a prison than entire Palestine. But for the valiance of the civilians, the activism of civil society and the determination of political leaders, its people would have suffered even more pain and agony. The wounds inflicted by the military are deep and the scars permanent. Kashmiri mothers cannot ever forget the loss of their loved sons and daughters. What was once a peaceful and tranquil society, at ease with itself, despite foreign occupation, has now become a valley of wanton death and perpetual grief. For many the disappearance of their loved ones is reminiscent of scene of the dooms day.

People are not the only casualty of the wrath of the ‘security forces’; the entire land with its cornfields, its rice paddies, its lush forests, its valleys and its mountains have been wounded, blood stained, scarred and repeatedly ravaged. Kashmir’s ecology is a disaster. Its hillsides deforested by the army cantonments, its valleys trashed by over half million soldiers, its roads made impassable by the endless convoys of military vehicles and its once pristine air and water polluted by the aunt hills of Indian invaders. In many neighborhoods Indian marauders have outnumbered the local population, with large swaths of local population internally or externally displaced. Add to it the beggar class that has descended from overpopulated northern India on the Valley, the ecological and social disaster has become.

Social degradation is no less devastating. Indian soldiers are alcohol boozers. Nearly every one of them is a drinker since their culture is permissive of such beverages. That used to be an anathema to Kashmiri social and religious culture, but a huge number of alcoholics have polluted the social environment and sickened the society. Kashmiri socioeconomic fabric is in taters and at risk of irreversible disintegration and destruction. Sooner or later this evil culture with alcohol and sex trade is bound to afflict the native Muslim ethos of Kashmir. Ridding Kashmir of the corrupted and corrupting military is the only way to protect the indigenous society from the afflictions.

Repeal of the draconian laws, like the AFSPA is a necessary first step to remove the scourge of state terrorism and restore peace and tranquility in Kashmir. Those around the world who have an iota of civility and sense of justice left in them must condemn and these military atrocities and demand that the Indian government abrogate and repeal these draconian laws. The world must demand impartial international inquiries of these practices and punish the perpetrators for war crimes which they truly are under the Geneva Conventions.