The Cold War is gone and long-forgotten. The infamous period of 90’s in Kashmir is gone too and the consequences are well before us. Let’s contextualize the two events in history that shaped and dismantled some of the modern world powers and democracies.
The Cold War produced ‘one of the most repressive periods in American history’ (Stone 2004:312). Crimes Against the State: From Treason to Terrorism by Michael Head is a much needed book. The book has a separate chapter entitled The United States: Free Speech in ‘War’ and ‘Peace’ that explores the violent struggle by the United States during the Cold War for its global dominance against communists. It was a period of red-baiting, black-listing and McCarthyism (Stone 2004). In times of political stress such as the Cold War, what is prominently observed is the adverse role of highest institutions of the state such as judiciary, media, police and even semi-independent and independent institutions such as the bar associations or the unions of different professions. Pertinently, ‘the government’s indictment was a virulent form of prior censorship of speech and press’. Decisions in favour of the government had been a result of judges succumbing to ‘pressures, fears and passions’. Even the experienced judges had bowed to the ‘prevailing hysteria’. A sad picture of judiciary is therefore present during what is known to us as the Cold War. There is no appraisal of the ‘liberal’ media. The legal profession is termed as not having proved principled as it is noted that the American Bar Association called for the expulsion of all Communist Party members and many lawyers. In nutshell, the institutions, particularly political systems, have chosen selective complexes having been surrounded by selective entrapments and history is witness to it. Thus, killings and their denouncements too became political.
Nothing is missing when it comes to the torments we are facing. One can consider the subject of Kashmir after the shameful election rigging of 1987. Democratic principles were put into danger by the state itself and Kashmir became a story of distress. Killings, massacres, disappearances, unorganized and organized loot and plundering became the everyday news and there was no custodian of the civil liberties. This, of course, continues. I do not, however, need to elaborate things because the consequences are well before us.
Some days ago, an advocate, Advocate Imtiyaz Ahmad, was shot dead in Pinjoora village of Shopian district. People in Kashmir observed a long siesta when it came to condemning his death. No denouncements followed up. The deceased had been a former public prosecutor. The rhetorical line picked up by people that Public Prosecutor fully represents government and its dictatorial engagements is wrong. Of course he represents state, but his role begins once investigations are completed by the police. He is no figure of contempt. In the art of lawyering, he is just one of the actors. What was disheartening to see was the criminal silence of all the political parties in Kashmir. The High Court Bar Association did not also frame a full-fledged programme to remind the political parties of their misdeeds in Kashmir. How would you explain your criminal silence to his wife and his little child? His little child must have a question for all of us: Why was my father killed? In one of his recent Facebook posts, Imtiyaz Ahmad had vehemently condemned the killings and state of affairs in Kashmir. Little did he know that he would himself fall into the deadly trap. And interestingly, what follows up in cases like this is the ‘unidentified gunman theory’.
The story does not stop here. On September 14, 2015, three youth were found dead in mysterious conditions in Pattan (Altaf Baba, Greater Kashmir). Police was left clueless as to the cause of death of these young men who had left homes to join militancy. There was a delay in giving strike call by the separatist camp due to some doubts as to the ‘ownership’ of these boys. Families had lost their count, all was well and they became posthumous subjects of the ‘unidentified gunman theory’
The question is: For how long will we continue to see the bloodbath and the selective outrages? And what are we going to do about it? Let’s not be so complacent that things run out of hand and there’s no one left to protest for us.
(Published in Greater Kashmir newspaper: