On Custodial Violence

On the 19th of March, a young schoolteacher named Rizwan Asad Pandith died in police custody. The disturbing aspect about his death is that it might have been caused due to torture as he was taken by the police to CARGO, SOG camp and once an infamous torture center. To even think of what happens to someone in a torture centre shocks human imagination. The incident represents a dangerous moment for all the young men in Kashmir and raises questions about the abuse of power by police. Why was he arrested in the first place? What were the grounds for his arrest? Was the police justified enough to arrest him? The magisterial inquiry ordered into the case should address all such questions.

Criminal Justice System-

Non-compliance with the criminal justice system is an attribute of a failed state. It often leads to the denial of political freedoms, civil rights, and collective safety. The Constitution of India recognizes the rights of an arrested person under the ‘Fundamental Rights’ chapter which applies to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly, the J&K Criminal Procedure Code recognizes the rights of an arrested person under different heads, including her prompt production before a Magistrate to make sure that the judicial authority has the final say in deciding whether the arrest of the person is justified. An arrest is not made because it is lawful, the police officer must be able to justify the arrest. The existence of such power is one thing, the justification another. This was laid down in Joginder Kumar(1994). Reports seem to suggest that the bail order in his favor had not been complied with. These questions should be the priority of the magisterial inquiry so that the curse of having a dominant executive in Jammu and Kashmir is recognized.

Torture- A study –

Torture, once a way of life in Kashmir, continues to be practiced with impunity and design in some parts. In a study on the subject conducted last year via a project by Kaiser Iqbal, an LL.M. scholar at Law Department, Central University of Kashmir, he found that fifty percent of the victims were between the age group of 15-25 years and more than thirty-five percent fell in the age group of 25-35 years. About forty percent of the victims were students and fifteen percent were teachers. The methods that were employed included beating with whips and gun butts (83
percent), use of roller over the body (80 percent), beating after being hung upside down(60 percent), electric shocks(40 percent), including plucking of nails and water cure using cement water. More than 90 percent of the victims had bone fractures all over the body, particularly in legs, and faced partial disabilities and had hearing impairments and sexual issues as well. Many hesitated while talking about the sexual problems they had developed. More than 60 percent of the victims said that they were not allowed to meet their families and their families were not informed about their arrest. It is pertinent to mention that these rights of an arrested person are recognized under J&K CrPC. Almost 90% percent of the victims were not given the treatment they required. It’s another flaw of the J &K CrPC. There are no express provisions to provide compensation to such victims. 60% of his victims said that they did not approach any court or rights body. None of the victims received any help from NGOs. Almost all of them live under constant fear and face issues of mental health.

The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention against Torture on December 10, 1984. India signed the Convention but did not ratify it. The Indian state has no domestic legislation to that effect amid rising cases of custodial torture and deaths. The Supreme Court has on multiple occasions called for legislations on such laws of international stature and has expressed its inability to make any reform without domestic laws in place. It is high time that the Indian state ratifies the Convention against Torture (1984) so that unseen victims of violence come to be recognized and such violations of human rights are addressed.

The Judiciary-

The judiciary has often decided on the life and liberty of citizens. The right to treatment with dignity (Sunil Batra(1980)) and protection from custodial violence(Sheela Barse(1983)) have already been made the part of the right to life under Article 21 by the Supreme Court. D.K.Basu(1997), a case par excellence, laid down The ‘Eleven Commandments’ asking the police to be extraordinarily careful while arresting a person. The reason why there are inconsistencies is that such procedure often remains in the books and executive continues to hoodwink lower judiciary in a state like Jammu and Kashmir. Ironically, the custodial violence continues and the recent custodial death of Rizwan is an indication enough as to why the Honorable High Court of Jammu and Kashmir needs to intervene so that people do not become targets of state violence. The Court has a public duty to protect the civil and political rights of all the citizens as the legislature has not been able to do so in an effective way.

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Lessons from Christchurch

The recent massacre of Muslims in New Zealand that left about 50 dead is a result of the past many years of propaganda against Muslims around the world and a rising level of Islamophobia that is now a normal in many parts of the world, including India. The attacker live streamed the carnage and left behind a manifesto declaring hatred against Muslims. It was an act of revenge against “Islamic invaders”. Rest in peace, to all those who died defenselessly!
The kind of level Islamophobia has reached today should not surprise anyone because of how this hate has been organized at different levels for years now. Media and politicians have played a critical role in shaping this ideology into the form of violence that was displayed recently in Christchurch. Islamophobia, no doubt, is a global problem, but what lessons does the recent attack have for us?

Modi’s Twitter Concerns are Selective-

Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, is obsessed with the word ‘terrorism’. Ever since he became India’s supremo, he’s been traveling to all the major parts of the world doing his most favourite thing- exposing and ‘isolating’ terrorists and highlighting terrorism as a major global problem. His Twitter is ever-ready to condemn terrorist strikes that are normal given the world we are living in. As condolences kept pouring in for Muslims around the world, Modi did not utter a word, even though a good number of people who lost their lives were from India. It was the ‘chowkidar’ indeed; in whose ‘chowki’ and under whose ‘guard’ Muslims were killed in large numbers in Gujarat in 2002. Why would he bother to even condemn violence on Muslims? Was it a secret message to his ‘all-weather friends’? Was it a strategic consideration?

Violence against Indian Muslims-

Hate is a process, not an event. It culminates into violence after being propagated and institutionalised. Muslims in India continue to remain an oppressed minority and have to prove their loyalty even after more than seven decades of independence. Why are Muslims not able to find a life of dignity and peace? Why are they treated as a threat to the country?
India became secular but could not keep its secular credentials intact. In India, political speeches that are intimidating and violent always go unchecked. In fact, the Chief Minister of India’s largest state of Uttar Pradesh has talked in the past about stripping Muslims of their rights, including the right to vote and making them second-class citizens. Media continues to remain docile and far off from televising the real concerns and aspirations of common people.

Indians must acknowledge that the systematic violence against Muslims can prove to be a bigger threat than any ‘terrorist’ threat. The recent tragedy in Christchurch is a warning enough to tell us that Indian Muslims are vulnerable and must be given adequate protection.

A Friend in Jacinda Ardern-

Amid the hostility that the Muslims felt in Christchurch, they had found a great sympathizer and a wonderful leader in Jacinda Ardern. I do not remember any leader having spoken with such sensitivity, responsibility, and humility after having gone through a storm. The Prime Minister of New Zealand did everything that was expected of a responsible leader. She affirmed our belief once again in the fact that there are real leaders in the world, with real concerns. She did not give hollow talks about her duties, she followed them.

Death of My Friend

The maestro of Urdu ghazal, Mirza Ghalib, had a life full of suffering. When none of his own children survived, he adopted his wife’s nephew, who also died at a young age. This tragedy led him to write one of the most painful ghazals ever written. I’m sharing a few couplets:

lazim tha ki dekho mera rasta koi din aur

tanha gaye kyun, ab raho tanha koi din aur

jaate hue kehte ho qayamat ko milenge

kya khoob! qayamat ka hai goya koi din aur

haan ae falak-e-peer jawan tha abhi Aarif

kya tera bigadta jo na marta koi din aur?

The agony of losing someone close to us leaves us beyond repair. We try hard to forget, but there remains inside us a void until death takes us too. Death exists with us and around us as a fine reality, but it always keeps us unsure about its timing.

This last Friday, one of my closest friends passed away. He suffered a massive cardiac arrest and never made it. It was devastating for our close and extended circle-of-friends to realize that a young man of 20 who had spent a great part of his life with us was no more. The world for him and the world between us had come to an abrupt end. The thought of his death brought back painful memories that we shared and regret that he left with a million dreams unfulfilled. At his grave, we were all silent. The deafening silence that we adorned meant that we understood how broken we were and how our emotions needed to stay unexplained. Our friend, like all those who leave and have left us, died with secrets left inside him. But it was shocking to imagine that his secrets were young, like his young body. They died with him, like him: young and unfulfilled.

God, I cannot imagine.

Death is perhaps the only subject that continues to fascinate writers to this day. Even though the literary giants through all the times have attached themselves to the subject a great deal, the most important questions associated with death still remain unanswered.

When Murakami said that death existed not as the opposite, but as a part of life, he precisely meant that it existed within our being. For many of us, whether we are religious or not, doing good deeds in life means getting rewarded in the afterworld. Thus our life revolves around death in a way. Similarly, Edgar Allan Poe, whose literary works had a constant presence of death and melancholy themes, also thought that death was not the end of life. In The Premature Burial, Poe writes, “The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?” To Poe, death had a metaphysical meaning. ‘Death’ dominated the works of Dostoevsky as well. In Crime and Punishment, life and death appear as dominant themes. In our part of the world, death is the only constant thing. Over a long period of time now, we have been seeing death as a normal. We eulogize the martyrdom of our young while also giving them a bridal farewell. We see death as a process, of transcendence as we play our part in making our ‘worlds’ better- here and over there.

At the grave of my friend, these questions kept me bemused. As our circle-of-friends will meet tomorrow, we will never meet with the same enthusiasm as we used to. His death made us alone in our lives and it may take a long time to fill the void. Until it is our turn, perhaps.

How do we grieve your loss, my friend? This grief of yours stuns us. Rest in peace, Sajid Javaid.

kitne hi ped khauf-e-khizan se ujad gaye

kuch barg-e-sabz waqt se pehle hi jhad gaye

~Anis Moin

Link :

https://m.greaterkashmir.com/news/opinion/death-of-a-friend/316940.html

References

References to the article regarding Interlocutor

1.) J&K Autonomy Report 2000;
2.) “Importance of Kashmir” published in 1947 by RSS and statements of different RSS leaders;
3.) Patel and Kashmir, Patel’s Communalism – a documented record, AG Noorani, Frontline;
4.) Inside Story of Sardar Patel : The Diary of Maniben Patel;
5.) Newspaper reports and newspapers accessed for dates: Kashmir Life, Greater Kashmir;
6.) YouTube for talks of Kashmiri leaders when Ram Jethmalani was heading the panel of interlocutors;
7.) Anatomy of the Autonomy, Arif Ayaz Parrey, Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation.

I refuse to be complacent sir

Last week, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khakan Abbasi said that the idea of “Independent Kashmir was not based on reality.” He said this while interacting with students at the London School of Economics. This became a point of great debate across the sub-continent as one could see on social media.

Back home, while commemorating the 140th birthday of Allama Iqbal, Hurriyat patron Syed Ali Geelani said that Jammu and Kashmir was a natural part of Pakistan.

I read the two statements from these two important people connected to Kashmir dispute with a sense of great shock. I cannot go and persuade the Prime Minister of Pakistan with the sense of reality that he ignores but I can tell the Hurriyat Chief that he should not be doing this. I admire and respect the Hurriyat Chief but my sense of a humble refusal may be seen through the following justifications:

One, when you claim that Kashmir is a natural part of Pakistan because of its Muslim majority, many Muslim leaders of India also contest this question as a reason of Kashmir’s joining with India. Last year when MJ Akbar said that giving up Kashmir was surrendering Indian Muslims’ right, why was he questioned then?

Second, your statement is exploitative in nature because it further alienates the people of Ladakh and Jammu regions. It also puts an end to Kashmir’s struggle from becoming a people’s movement or a collective struggle of Jammu and Kashmir. Moreover, being the citizens of modern day democracies, we cannot afford to put an end to different schools of political thought. My freedom of thought cannot hamper someone else’s freedom.

Third, when the oppressor is in a divisive course of action in an oppressed society, we should not be following in his footsteps to lead our own ‘divide and rule’ of the society. By this, we become direct supporters of oppression. When we call Hurriyat an ‘amalgamation’, it must accommodate people of all religions, sects, castes and regions in its truest sense.

Fourth, no part of Kashmir is being ruled by its own choice. The political freedom of ‘Azad Kashmir’ is also yet to be seen. When Pakistan got hold of its territory of Occupied Kashmir, the first thing Mushtaq Gurmani, a Pakistani envoy, did was to divide and rule ‘Azad Kashmir’, followed by autocratic practices and feudal politics. Chowdhary Ghulam Abbas would often make complaints to Pakistani administration that the decisions taken by Pakistani envoys were taken without any consultation to the ‘Azad Kashmir’ government. Many ‘Azad Kashmir’ ministers and officials were treated by Pakistan as second-class citizens. (Source: The Untold Story of the People of Azad Kashmir: Christopher Snedden) We cannot afford to escape from one occupation to the other and submit to this belittling treatment. If occupation on one side is a curse, the other cannot be thrust upon us as a blessing. Sardar Ibrahim, although having been a part of the ‘Azad Kashmir’ administration was a core supporter of plebiscite.

Five, when both India and Pakistan and their people are following a dangerous trend of war and terror we cannot become a part of any of these dangers. Both sides are oppressing minorities and running caste and sect politics which have been a basic aspect of typical South Asian politics. While on one side, children are being killed in trains (public trains, of course) for consumption of beef and wearing skullcaps, the other side is busy mob lynching promising young men who dissent. I cannot be a part of such republics; I can work in a way that inspires not only my own people, but also those who have ruined me for decades now. This belief alone can restore my identity and honour.

Six, when Pakistan launched its military operation in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), its Army killed millions of Bengalis and raped scores of women to suppress their call for freedom. This systematic violence, genocide, genocidal rape is a blot on Pakistan’s Army. Imagine ‘Azad Kashmir’ giving a call for freedom, how Pakistan deals with them is a matter of great debate, if I am not being judgmental.

The structure of power is always absolute. It is not humanized as our dreams of freedom are. Will the leadership recognize it and accept it as a part of the struggle?

Published here:
GK website:
http://m.greaterkashmir.com/news/opinion/i-refuse-to-be-complacent/265799.html

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In the Midst of a Lie called Journalism

The problem of a sponsored media has always been the central problem of occupation. The elitist journalists use false narratives to build a name for themselves burying a just cause under the debris of narcissism. The elitist journalists can never protect an occupied populace from the propaganda of the political class. In situations like this, our foremost duty is to tell to truth, not only to ourselves or our people, but also to those who blatantly lie. We must all be capable of spitting it on the faces of these arrogant and politically neutralized beings.

In her recent piece for The Washington Post, Indian journalist Barkha Dutt claimed that “the recent terror attack on Hindu pilgrims could change everything for Kashmir”. She also said that the attack had brought Kashmir’s “27-year-old insurgency” to critical crossroads. There are some stark realities in the statement which cannot be denied. The recent attack alone should not wake us up, but the post 9/11 realities and global shifts of politics cannot be overlooked too. In a world marred by wars and dangerous diplomacies, opportunistic policies of nation-states are never there to resolve longstanding disputes. Their businesses are running as long as the disputes remain unresolved. 

However, the arguments she raises further in her piece are unfounded and have been written in a manner of looking down on the people of Kashmir intellectually. She pretends to be the messiah of people (I don’t know whose) while writing narratives that build up the current Hindutva myth. These lies destroy every credibility she may have with the people. This is not a curious Barkha Dutt case. Many Indian journalists and “Kashmir experts” have a habit of glorifying their political setup and aggressive policies in Kashmir because they cannot survive without appeasing their masters. Perhaps, they will get jobless if peace returns, who knows!

She asks, “In the land of Mahatma Gandhi, why is there not one non-violent icon in the valley?” She has forgotten the dialogue offered by Yasin Malik to the government of India. What happened to JKLF in 1994 must serve as a reminder to all the peace loving people. They were backstabbed and ignored by the Government of India and its consequences are well in front of us. In 1996, the Jammu and Kashmir government set up the State Autonomy Committee and recommended the restoration of autonomy in 1999, the NDA government rejected the resolution passed by the J&K assembly. Dr Farooq Abdullah was not trusted. Even the People’s Democratic Party was formed just days after the Kargil War had ended. Although it had been an old dream of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, it was formed to bring peace between India and Pakistan at that point of time. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is called a moderate in Delhi, in fact. Advocate Jalil Andrabi was killed by Army for his zeal to bring peace in Kashmir. We have the father of Tufail Mattoo, who has has shown exemplary valour and his fight against the state apparatus is an inspiration to all of us. Therefore, there is no dearth of non-violent icons in Kashmir, but the truth is that they are not recognized.

She mentions Irom Sharmila and tells people of Kashmir to get inspired from her. No doubt Irom Sharmila is an inspiration for the whole human race, but exactly like the Indian state, she did not recognize Parveena Ahanger, the Iron Lady of Kashmir. After the disappearance of her son during 90s, she championed the cause of all those subjected to enforced disappearance. She was nominated for the prestigious Nobel Prize for Peace in the year 2005 but she never got any recognition from the state. Do you expect dialogues to happen in the atmosphere of arrogance? People deserve justice, equality and freedom while activists are busy proving their worth.

‘Militants’ of Kashmir have no role in India and there is no point of their want to start communal riots in India. Communal riots in India are as old as the partition of India. This rhetoric of linking Kashmir to Muslims of India is an irrational one. MJ Akbar also said last year that giving up Kashmir was surrendering Muslims’ rights which is baseless from the face of it. Linking ‘Muslim’ to Kashmir does not help because Kashmir issue is not the issue of religion and the question of Indian Muslims is distinct from that of Kashmiris. It is due to their will that Indian Muslims form an absolute part of India and the fact is quite undeniable.

Our hearts bleed when a protestor or a policeman is killed in the streets of Kashmir but the selective sermonising over human losses does a lot of disservice to the values we respect and observe as humans. The soldier, the policeman, the civilian, the militant, all belong to the category of humans and they all deserve to live. While pursuing our agenda, we attack the consequences, not the root cause. While a group of families of Kashmiri young men killed in protests in 2010 and 2016 were planning to gather at Lal Chowk to condemn the attack on Yatris, Farooq Ahmad, Wamiq’s (a young boy killed in 2010) father was quoted as saying, “I can feel the pain of the families of every killed yatri. I have been living with this pain for the past many years.” He also said, “There was no condemnation from the people of India.”(Muzamil Mattoo, Kashmir Reader, July 14, 2017)

It is, therefore, humbly argued that the learned journalist needs to present the view of the people, their struggle, instead of a state focused perspective. By presenting a state perspective, you betray your own people. The liberals in India badly need to organize #NotInMyName protests for the violence committed in Kashmir. They must ask for forgiveness from the people of Kashmir.

Excerpts in Greater Kashmir newspaper:
http://m.greaterkashmir.com/news/opinion/a-biased-view/254906.html

Also here: http://dailykashmirimages.com/Details/144760/sponsored-media-paid-journalism
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Kashmir, Human Rights and Global Attention

In an interview with Pankaj Mishra in 2010, Basharat Peer spoke of the attention Americans needed to put towards Kashmir. He also spoke of his visit to America in 2006 where he had gone with great expectations that people might talk Kashmir in detail and express their opinion. To his surprise people would not care and some would not even know about it. Similarly, Kashmir’s first hip-hop artist, Roushan Illahi, popularly known by his stage name MC Kash, went to tour Europe in 2016 as a student of peace to raise general awareness around the world about Kashmir. I met him before his visit and he was so ambitious and purposeful about his effort of telling the outside world about the world’s most militarized zone. Contrary to his expectations, he would be shocked by the responses as some people would even ask him, “What is Kashmir?”

Kashmir is again facing a cold war like situation, as I have time and again been likening it to one of the most repressive periods in American history. We are losing lives like cattle and nobody seems to care about it. So many people have already lost their lives in this bloody war that it is hard to count the number and we cannot afford to lose lives anymore. With the ideological shifts that are being observed across the militant struggle and its failure to achieve any desired result, many are keen on highlighting the human perspective of the war that has grown too old now. Guns are guns and it does matter where they come from. Romanticizing the militant struggle will not produce a Che Guevara for us in times like this and all of us should be afraid of the situations it can lead us to.

I went to Delhi this year as a student of human rights. The awareness that I wished to raise had a different level. For example, if I tell someone that I belong to Kashmir, my expectations won’t be hurt. Even if I get a negative response, the assurance is that I will get something to really discuss and deliberate upon.

The saddest part of this discourse is that Kashmir has never been portrayed as a human rights issue. In the eyes of most people it is an India-Pakistan territorial issue. With the negative media attention, that has been working tirelessly to tarnish the image of Kashmiris across India and negate its human side, most people view it through the prism of ‘national interest’.

The politicization of human rights in Kashmir is the saddest reality to observe and think upon. In 2005, a pro-government militia known as ‘Salwa Judum’ was formed to tackle the insurgency in Chhattisgarh. In addition to allegations of murder (500 cases) and arson (103 cases), 99 allegations of rape were submitted to the Supreme Court, with no single FIR (Firstpost: May 30, 2013). Prominent human rights organisation, People’s Union for Civil Liberties raised allegations against Salwa Judum. In 2011 its formation was ruled out by the honourable Supreme Court owing to its illegal and unconstitutional nature. A similar organization called the Ikhwan was formed in Kashmir in 1995. They unleashed a reign of terror across Kashmir killing people in huge numbers. The brigade was supported by the government of the time and diminished slowly until the return of ‘normalcy’. However, its formation and functioning was never criticized in Delhi and the cases of such abuses were investigated in a less number of cases. Denial by different governments to try the cases of human rights abuses led to a renewed kind of struggle in the valley.

When Afzal Guru was hanged in 2013, it was not a punishment to Ghalib (Afzal’s son) alone but a collective punishment to all the Kashmiri children. As Mirza Waheed put it correctly in his famous piece for The Guardian that the “noose (could) extend beyond the gallows”. While people in Kashmir were mourning, leading to more and more deaths, the mood in Delhi was severely harsh.

The first victim of the pellet horror in 2010 was a teenager named Irshad Ahmad. How pellets were indiscriminately pumped into the body of 11-year-old Nasir will haunt us for the rest of our lives. Similarly, how Faizan Bashir, a 12-year-old boy was produced before a Srinagar court to be prosecuted as an adult still remains a major challenge to all those who practise human rights law. Is there anyone to justify it? What holds the families of all these victims together is the faith in criminal justice system. For example, Tufail Mattoo’s (a young boy killed by police in 2010) father has shown exemplary valour and his fight against the state apparatus is an inspiration to all of us.  While we all champion the cause of child rights, let’s remember those in Kashmir who have lost their vision and become unseen targets of the violence.

In the fall of 2015, I met Parveena Ahanger, popularly known in Kashmir as the ‘Iron Lady’. After the disappearance of her son during 90s, she rose as a sensation championing the cause of all those subjected to enforced disappearance. On a note of promise and hope, she held my hand and told me so selflessly, “Bring justice for us, my son. Make sure what happened to us does not happen to the next generation.” While we debate violence against women, let’s remind the state of Kunan-Poshpora and Asiya-Neelofar double rape and murder and the denial of justice thereof. The collective conscience that was on display in the case of Nirbhaya was not seen in the ones that of course shook the collective conscience of Kashmir. A moderate Indian response to a question like this would be: But rapes are common in India, why only raise hue and cry about Kashmir? Little do they realize that by denial of justice to the victims, rapes are legitimized and the language that is being spoken to them is that of power and a military might, which cannot be fought. The message is to terrorise and make rape political in Kashmir.

Politicization of human rights is the saddest thing that has ever happened to Kashmir. To start a peace process in Kashmir, observance of human rights and justice cannot wait. In a world marred by wars and dangerous diplomacies, opportunistic policies of nation-states are never there to resolve longstanding disputes. Their businesses are running as long as the disputes remain unresolved. We cannot expect anything from the outside world. People can have sympathy for us but ultimately you have to battle the state apparatus. The message therefore goes straight to the people of mainland India that they are the main party who can start a renewed peace process in Kashmir. Politics can wait, resolve of the greater issues can wait, and even Azadi can wait; but human rights, their observance and redressal cannot wait.

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http://googleweblight.com/i?u=http://kashmirreader.com/2017/06/17/kashmir-human-rights-global-attention/&hl=en-IN

http://googleweblight.com/i?u=http://dailykashmirimages.com/Details/142317/kashmir-human-rights-and-the-global-attention&hl=en-IN

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Rising Kashmir link:
http://www.risingkashmir.in/news/kashmir-and-global-attention