Of whistleblowers and gag orders

By Hakim Singh. Dated: 4/19/2019 10:49:58 AM

State's inaction, absence of effective justice mechanism enriches Kishtwar's hate politics

When the state machinery works only to preserve a particular regime or group, no advancement to a higher form of society is possible without alterations the state machinery, no matter what representative institutions exist.
Kishtwar has always been at the lowest berth in the developmental agenda as it still lacks basic facilities-health system, water supply and surface connectivity to count the basic infrastructure. Thousands of people from this region of Jammu and Kashmir have died in the absence of above mentioned basic amenities. The concentration of hydro-projects has also affected demographic and geographic aspects of this region. Many people have lost their lives in landslides and floods in the past and it continues to be real death marker. There has been no politically and administratively organized strategy by local leaders till date to resolve these real issues except Om Mehta- a realistic and politically conscious leader. With the dusk of his political career, the people-centric politics became stagnant. Thereafter, politics became a power game and every party started working only for the acquisition and maintenance of power for their well being. Various developments in different fields were floated to harness vote bank but many of these projects have hardly seen light of the day. The shift from development based politics to propaganda-hatred politics emerged due to extension of Kashmir movement to the erstwhile Doda-Doda, Kishtwar, and Ramban. In the former times, it happens to be an El-dorado to many for settlement and business.
In an environment of irresponsible administrative system, people have become the victims of militancy, terrorism and communal disharmony from time to time. The extension of Kashmir movement in this region has further resulted in the communalization of people. This proxy communal disharmony comes handy for government to shields their failure to meet the development. Political rhetoric and propaganda in the midst of all this chaos further blinded the public to the real problems. The current debate of nationalist versus anti-nationalist to justify politics in this region, akin to the one prevalent in pan-India, is the latest addition to political rhetoric. There is communalization of politics to divide people to stand for their respective religion and community rather than fighting for various socio, economic, political and educational issues collectively. People are politically socialised as Hindus and Muslims rather than citizens of India in general and Jammu and Kashmir in particular. The debate of nationalism and sub-nationalism sidelines other local issues of the region to gain mass support for their respective domains.
The worst consequence of this untoward politics is a state of paranoia where public shuns citizenship and rule of law, and contrarily vouches for religious and communal rights. The recent selective killing of people in this region is not a new trend of politics but has a legacy of the old politics of communal divisions. The common masses were targeted and killed in similar way when militancy was at its peak in Kashmir and these extended regions of Jammu during 90s. Though civil killings by non-state actors were not restricted to any particular community but majority of these were definitely Hindu. Unfortunately, there was no investigation by the state to confirm the nature of crime-whether it was really done by militants or any gang working for power and communal divide to disturb the peaceful ethos of the place. Despite taking the responsibility of law and order, the government armed the affected people or community for their own self defense which clearly reflects the failure of government in combating violence. The irresponsible behaviour of the governments is noticeable in the history of Kashmir also when Kashmiri Pandits were forced to leave their homes. This attitude of governments in present era makes the state worst than Leviathan which at least stood for right to life.
Moreover, the post 2014 election trends did not come up to the expectations of the people but intensifies the intolerance further. The killings of Parihar Brothers and Chander Kand and his bodyguard did not put the people of a particular ideology or thought process in jeopardy but also raises the concerns about democratic and secular ideals of the constitutions in this region of Jammu and Kashmir. It is a stigma to peace and representative politics which does not justify the use of violence and dictatorship. It is a breakdown of Indian state's belief in freedom of speech and expression or politics of dialogue. It highlights the paradox and patrician nature of Indian state. For instance, providing security to various political groups with their different ideology in Kashmir opposite to main stream idea of India as a nation and engaging them into the dialogue politics and discarding the same to Kishtwaris. How can the state be partial or discriminatory in engaging or protecting its citizen's right to speech and association? Why the rights of minority at the local level are not secured, are we waiting for another communal riot or reaction of people in the form of Hindu militancy as revenge or above all another exodus as it happened in Kashmir? The only solution to this impasse is to forget the past blunders and provide physical security and mental security to each individual of every community so that they may relate or address their real local, social, health, political, and economic needs.
The civil society has to pressurize the governments for investigating the matter of current selective killings to restore the trust of the communities and peaceful coexistence by exposing the real culprits. The nature of criminal and crime should be confirmed through positive investigation with the help of non partisan state bodies or stakeholders through state, national and international level collaboration rather than appropriating the issue in the name of militancy.
Moreover, the nature of any state needs to be assessed by its ideal form- theory and constitution. India as a state since its conception has opted for secular, democratic, republic and sovereign nature to protect the rights of all its citizens. The state may be unsuccessful in establishing the idea of democracy in its full sense but differs from the states ideally supporting theocracy, communalism, and feudalism etc. Therefore, it is unfortunate and illogical to compare the Indian state with undemocratic states existing in any corner of the world. India and Jammu Kashmir Government has to shoulder the responsibility of taking the idea of peace forward through dialogue not only beyond its borders but also within its periphery to engage its own people from every section of society in the process of peace building. The peace building process has to be initiated from our home by making every individual feel safe and fearless especially to express his or her different idea or opinion.
We as citizens expect our safety of rights only in a democratic country which is infeasible in other forms of government.
*(Hakim Singh is currently working as Senior Research Fellow, Department of Public Policy and Public Administration, Central University of Jammu)



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