Over sixty years of independence has spelt out a number of changes – some for the better and some for the worse. Taking a step back, much of the problems arise and exist from the pre-independence era which, having worsened in the vicious web of political venality and despotism, have become many times more complex.
Much of the problems and issues are harbored in locations that are isolated by the tangled system of (mis)information (mis)communication, and are subjects which are kept under confidential documents being termed as sensitive and are hardly ever brought to the public domain.
Today we harbor a similar asylum called Heaven on Earth – Kashmir. Amidst currents of neo-liberalism and Hindu “nationalism” in the country, Kashmir has fallen suppressed under the weight of constant tension arising from both sides of the border.
Categorically, information regarding Kashmir can be divided into three parts – what is actually happening in Kashmir, what the people are told is happening in Kashmir and what the rest of the world knows is happening.
People live on the amorphous edges of a society saturated in violence, where militants, police, government servants, businessmen and journalists too, encounter each other and occupy each others’ roles, eventually.
Each time a terrorrist strikes, radical fanatics like the VHP blame it on, not a few, but an entire religion and community. The government blames it on Indian Mujahidin and groups like Al-Qaeda, and leads the discussion to a debate on peace relations with Pakistan and the control of terrorism. Ultimately what happens is that the issue starts fading somewhere in this blame game.
The Kashmiri Peoples live in a reign of terror, whereby most suffer from an identity crisis and even furthermore, a perpetual self-inquisition regarding life and death; where a person may go out of his house one day and not come back alive.
Today Kashmir has innumerable unreported cases of violence and deaths. People are living in a state of war, and it is difficult to find an answer as to when it will end.
Blame games in the name of terrorism prevention is not a new feature in India.
When the political heads come to improper conclusions they introduce drastic measures such as the Prevention Of Terrorism Act (POTA) and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Doing so serves as a much easier platform for the introduction of such acts because the general public is already blinded by phrases such as “for the nation” and “in the national interest” which sounds nationalistic up to a point of time but when the reality subsides to the background, again a case of information lapse, much of the people are unaware of the heinous nature of these acts which are introduced with improper analysis and just for the sake of upholding a political agenda.
Taking in particular the case of AFSPA, an act created to counter insurgency – the very nature of it has never been brought to the public domain. Yet what little we understand is this: the armed forces have given its men the license to kill and brutalize civilians as they see fit.
Manipur has witnessed such inhumane cases where today reporting a case of rape would be equivalent to reporting a case of minor theft in some other part of the country. It has become a routine to not witness one or two rapes but rapes in the measure of a scale where people have lost count now and justice does not call for a proper legal procedure because of the installation of the act in the region.
People are killed, kidnapped, tortured, and harassed and this is an incorporated part of their lives. Many have accepted this as the reality of what is and what will be. Those who fought against it gradually collapsed under the weight of suppression. One such name is Irom Sharmila whose undying efforts have at least managed to bring to light a few of the brutalities taking place in Manipur, to the public domain, where some percentage may now know about a small fraction of what the AFSPA is supposed to be, what it actually is and what it does.
We live in a nation which has governance in the form of ruled democracy, where people today elect their king and his ministers for a regime of five years. Ultimately once the government is in place, Lincoln-like terms such as “a government of the people, for the people, and by the people” becomes farce. The government may definitely fall under Lincoln’s definition, but what a government of the people reaps, what a government does for the people and when it does it, is left to speculation.
As universal adult franchisees, we can only use the power to exercise our vote to elect some party which may be the better option but definitely not the best. Hogging votes is an easy affair in India, where one and his party must have a heavy pocket, some good oratory skills and a clichéd set of never-to-be-fulfilled promises. One of my friends told me not to criticize the government but to help the government to function better – a very noble thing to say on his part. It did immediately remind me of many other “kings” who use this same statement against journalists for digging out actualities and truth and brings necessary information to the public domain and “not helping the government.”
How far do we go from here, is a question many will ask. How do we overcome such problems, has even more complexity of finding a solution. But, as long as people keep their moral conscience alive to differentiate between the just and the unjust, continuing to voice their opinions against what is right and what is wrong, all that can be said is there is still hope.
Time is less; change is upon us, gory or progressive are the options.