by M. A. Sofi 6 June 2020
And how the too-sure-of-itself syndrome of India has done it in
Let us begin by stating the obvious: in an effort to resolve the ever-burgeoning issues arising from social/political/economic tensions between the people on the one hand, and an attempt at a peaceful settlement of these issues by their reference to the authority of the state, it’s invariably the state narrative that carries the day and gets the better of the opposite narrative. Which should explain why is it that what they call a strategy or a war tactic is in essence, nothing but a war crime, an act of cowardice, a serious violation of human rights, of norms of civil liberty and civilised behaviour, but that view has no takers. While going after those who the state perceives as a threat to its lust for power, it stops at nothing. To put that into perspective, it should help to recall a recent stand-off of the government forces with some local young men where, in a bid to take on a Kashmiri young boy who was seen as a threat for the ‘crime’ of harbouring deep distrust of the Indian nation state and of the manner in which it has been handling Kashmir, the state administration did what it always does in such situations: snapping the internet services throughout the region as it’s woefully short on ideas how to do better than killing the innocents and holding the entire population to ransom.
This is because the idea is not so much to restore peace and normalcy through legitimate means involving the use of minimal force to curb dissidence or to arrest a further drift into recalcitrance but essentially to block the news of its forces engaging themselves in such crimes as murder and mayhem from leaking out to the world. In the instant case, they had laid siege to a densely populated area of the Srinagar city where the ‘rebellious’ young man was holed up. As he was martyred during the face off, even as the house he was holed up in was blasted to the smithereens, they didn’t stop at that. Out of sheer vengeance, the entire cluster of more than a dozen adjoining houses were set ablaze, the inmates bashed black and blue, properties worth billions destroyed and a huge quantity of cash, jewellery and other valuables stolen from these houses by these selfsame ‘security providers’. Having made sure that the news of their shameless conduct, this ghastly violation of human rights by them had become obsolete, the internet services were restored but not six days after it was withdrawn. This total absence of accountability of the Indian security forces is a shame on this country, on the kind of democracy they pride themselves on and on their pretensions being among the oldest civilisations in history. Its track record on human rights warrants the severest possible condemnation and censure from the world capitals and from the world bodies known for upholding the cause of civil liberty and the dignity of human life. That is absolutely necessary to make sure that this boundless hunger for overkill by the Indian deep state may hopefully be reined in, or else the naked dance of death and destruction in Kashmir is doomed to continue, regardless.
It was against the backdrop of these circumstances that the unmistakable signs of a festive mood in Kashmir were beginning to be noticed on the Eid day, not so much on account of Eid being celebrated in Kashmir on that day, but exclusively because Kashmiris had chosen to defy the Eid calendar as it has been in vogue in mainland India. Instead Kashmiris had willingly followed the calendar of the country next door, a development which simply ought to be seen as a symbol of non-violent resistance against the brutalised oppression of Kashmiris by India. And an unintended by-product of this development was to express solidarity with those who have all along been drawing attention of the international community towards the relentless reign of terror being unleashed here by those who have made no secret of their love for the land, never mind their visceral hatred of Kashmiris who
are being brutalised at their behest, and in the most dehumanising ways. These tactics by India betoken not the valour of its forces, but the sheer cowardice of the state which is manifested in two important ways:
a. Using power and authority to suppress, subjugate and repress the weak, the underprivileged and the dispossessed through the use of violence as a weapon.
b. Cower and cringe in fear of someone who is perceived to be stronger and more powerful and who gets after you and calls your bluff.
For all we know and experience, the country priding itself on being a ‘regional power’ and the
‘largest democracy’ in the world eminently fulfils these criteria of privileging itself as a member in the “elite club of cowards”. The first in view of how it has been treating the poor sections of the Indian society – aka the Dalits, the migrant labourers, the unwelcome Indian Muslims, the disempowered Kashmiris and how in its contemptuous disregard of countries in the region, it has been throwing its weight around to have its way. And the second in the light of how it has chosen to capitulate to the mighty China who have made effortless incursions into the strategically important region of Ladakh, unlike the noises it had made from the rooftops surrounding Balakot, even as the vacuity of these claims were not lost upon those who could look beyond the sound and fury accompanying these claims.
Of late, this has triggered a chain of questions in Kashmir regarding the desirability of the Kashmir issue having been resolved right at the time of Partition, unlike what it is now: an ever bleeding disputed issue between India and Pakistan. Here people are beginning to wonder what if Kashmir had been a bone of contention, not between India and Pakistan but the incomparably mightier China in place of a weaker Pakistan? Equally bad they say, but hold on! Wouldn’t it have been an altogether different story where Kashmir would have witnessed far lesser violence and fewer casualties, if only because in that event, India would not have dared to stand up to China while thinking of doing what it has been doing all along in Kashmir. Like tinkering with article 370, 35A followed by the unprecedented repression or for that matter, threatening Pakistan with jokes likes surgical strikes, Balakot, and taking over PAK, or implementing devious plans in the form of Delimitation of the Constituencies, State Domicile law etc. After all, don’t we witness how India is seen to be shaking in its pants at the sight of the Dragon breathing fire while making incursions right into the Indian territory? And India is still holding out the olive branch, unlike the hyperventilating rants of its bellicose politicians, with the supine Indian media and the soapy (R) army generals following in tow.
In the light of the hard realities as delineated above, it’s time to sit up to get to the basics and size it up where we need to look within and ask ourselves if we may have contributed to the million mutinies jostling for space in the India of today.
Come to think of it, let us ask what has been the single-most provocation for China to brazen its way into the territory of Ladakh which India claims as its own? Though the border dispute between the two neighbours dates back to the Indo-China war of 1962, the chief precipitating factor in the latest standoff between the two neighbours has surely been the big fraud, the great betrayal on Aug.5th, 2019 – as it indeed should – involving the unilateral abrogation of article 370 by India.
In consonance with the same line of reasoning, there is also a case for contending that the role of India in fomenting trouble on its eastern side by resorting to acts of terrorism in the
erstwhile East Pakistan through their proxies in the shape of mukti bhahini to dismember Pakistan in 1971 acted as the inspiration for the latter to avenge the 1971 debacle, and in ways that we have seen of them in recent years. In that sense, it has to be conceded, albeit grudgingly, that it’s India that has pioneered the use of terrorism as a state policy to settle issues both within and without. These machinations by India served to provide Pak the carte blanche to use the same tactics to ‘bleed India with a thousand cuts’ and, in the process, to hope for a final resolution of the K-issue as per its stated policy which for all we know, lay relatively dormant till then. Doesn’t that make a case for saying that it’s India which has botched it up so egregiously all through its existence as an independent country since 1947 that it’s caught in the vortex of hostilities with its neighbours who have not only the resources but, more importantly, also the moral high ground which has been handed down to them by India on a platter, to take it on. An unwillingness on the part of India to learn from its mistakes and to continue with the same arrogance underlying its underhand tactics to force its hand in settling pesky issues with neighbours would only complicate matters further. That would amount to India sowing wild oats which would result in yet another spell of it getting served with the just dessert in the months and years down the line.