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11th February '2013
“Collective” Punishment

The “Collective Conscience” of the Indian Society must have now been satisfied as had been observed by the Honourable Judges of the Supreme Court while confirming the death sentence on Afzal Guru not withstanding umpteen questions about the veracity of the trial and conviction based purely on circumstantial evidence. Even the Amnesty International has questioned the carrying out of this sentence. Many analysts have questioned the timing of implementing this court order in a very secretive and hushed manner. Some judicial luminaries have decreed the inordinate delay in carrying out the sentence as if the government was saving Afzal Guru as a sacrificial lamb to be used at the opportune moment-the elections! No doubt the Afzal Guru controversy will go on for quite some time both within the country and abroadespecially through the Human Rights watchdog organisations. In fact, a war of words has already erupted between the two main political parties. Also, the information minister has decreed many politicians opposing or questioning this act as something against the national security. A nation which has to hang people not proven guilty beyond doubt to safeguard its existence has something wrong with itself.

Firstly, what constitutes the “Collective” conscience of the Indian Society? Does it include the conscience of over 350 million people living below poverty line who cannot even afford a square meal? Does it include the millions of Dalits being discriminated and treated like animals by the higher castes? Does it include the millions of Maoists especially the Naxalites? Does it include the 200 million Muslims being treated worse than even the second class citizens as observed by Justice Sachar? Or is it the conscience of the majority of the 5% Brahmins ruling the country? Arundhiti Roy has called India an “Upper Caste Hindu Corporate Republic”. So the conscience too is of this upper caste which must be now feeling satisfied but as Roy has observed on this hanging, the cup of blood is still half-full and needs more to fill it up! To do that the Indian State has given the “Collective” punishment by unleashing a reign of terror in Kashmir and has put it under a siege the like of which was not seen even behind the infamous Iron Curtain of the erstwhile Soviet Union!

Now for three continuous days the entire valley is under the strictest curfew ever seen during last few years. All communications have been blocked. Internet and cable TV is suspended. No newspaper is allowed to be printed. During last three days no relaxation has been given in curfew. Why are the authorities in Srinagar and Delhi so scared of the common people of Kashmir? If they are apprehensive that there will be a mass upsurge and violence on the hanging of a “terrorist” in New Delhi then there must be something terribly wrong. Do the masses of Kashmir so much love this person that they would come out in millions to protest? Apart from the fact that these measures have torn the shroud of the largest democracy in the world to shreds, it has alienated Kashmiris to the extreme. While on the one hand it is given out that it is only a handful of misled youth who are indulging in violence and creating law and order problems, on the other the entire population has been imprisoned within their homes continuously for last three days and if reports are to be believed, the siege may continue till Friday, making it the longest ever siege in Kashmir in recent history.

Knowingly or unknowingly, Delhi has given the new generation of Kashmiris a new martyr. This has been done when things were returning to a semblance of normalcy and as given out by the government, over million and a half tourists were thronging the valley. One fails to understand the logic behind such a move which has brought Kashmir back to square one. There is widely held belief that the whole show has been a political move to forestall the rise of BJP especially the growing popularity of Narendra Modi as the possible next Prime Minister of India. One can say nothing else but that it is the misfortune of Kashmiris that the politicians on both the sides of the Indo-Pak divide have been using them as guinea pigs to further their own vested interests. Unfortunately too, both the sides find enough collaborators to further their agendas! In the present circumstances, God alone can come to the rescue of suffering Kashmiris as all others have abandoned them to their fate! They need to honestly and earnestly bow their heads to Him for relief from this state terror.

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