The history tells that throughout the stretches of history, India has been plundered by the imperial forces. But still it remained home to every ethnic race known to mankind. Even the better social accords were attained in those adverse times, but sadly this nation drifted from such healthy course once it succeeded to force out the nefarious British Empire in 1947 from its land.
We know the truths of later time, how a nation turned into ‘three’ and the unresolved ‘Kashmir’ sandwitched for bad taste between India and Pakistan. Gripped through prejudices, and short on framing a suitable stand on Kashmir, India has been missing its chances to come in proper terms with the aspiration of Kashmiris’.
Naturally, this leads to ‘collective alienation’ among those who were never given the proper benefits of citizenship that India’s constitution essentially mandates for its citizens. Over the decades, leadership (including separatists) in Srinagar and New Delhi has shown indifferences to the basic notion of democracy and instead has followed their own chosen myopic path.
Consequently, Kashmir’s real issues were submerged in those ego clashes. Though turbulences never stopped surfacing in Kashmir, but in recent years, valley was moving towards an unusual normalcy. The disenchantment from external actors and growing self belief in a better future, based on sensible activism and leaning for the “beauty of compromise” were leading that positive change.
But the situation will not remain the same with the hanging of Afzal Guru-his trial would be remembered for misallocating judicial verdict for the falsely courted ‘collective will’. It was never true and it can’t be true. People never demanded such verdict and manner of inhuman prosecution. ‘Crime and Punishment' could be or not a classical case, but certainly the linking of 'collective will with hanging' by Supreme Court itself creates horrific sense.
Afzal was sent to the gallows after ten years in solitary confinement. Even by the record of ‘retributive justice’, one should not be given death sentence after a decade long harsh treatment. Even when the matter was sub-judice, such consideration was not given any heed and now when Kashmir is under siege, Supreme Court has extended the stay on hanging of four accomplices of Veerapan.
These four unfortunate persons will see the institutionally recommended death after having straight twenty years in the dark cells of Karnataka jail. The question arises, what makes India’s legal system so cynic and blood thirsty? Will it check the growing crime or make the situation worse? The Indian state is on the verge, where ‘thaw’ forms or ‘melts’ depending upon what a certain class thinks.
This confirms, today Indian state has its periodical choices and selective consideration over the crucial issues like ‘justice’. Again need is to remind, this is not a systemic collapse but it’s a position moulded by the virulent rise of violent identity politics. This is not a new phenomenon but a return of ‘sordid way of action’ from past. This makes the situation tense by dividing the existence as between ‘us’ and ‘them’!
Obviously 2013 is not 1984, and certainly Afzal Guru was not as firm as Maqbool Bhat was for a ‘separate Kashmir’. But still he was hanged and without even allowing a last time meeting with his family. Was he given the prosecution for his crime (as known for) or the Indian state suddenly found a taste for brutal overplay on the sensitive matter attached with mass sentiment?
Through the account of Afzal Guru’s letter, he wanted a normal life after he quit the path of militancy in mid nineties. That didn’t work out. This can’t be answered by any expert who has dealt with his case related to the attack on India’s Parliament in 2001. Because the points he made in his later, I am afraid would never get cross-checked. And if, they were cross-checked, why not the findings are in public?
The failure of legal processes and horrific compulsions of politics are in cocktail producing the most dangerous elements, upon which the radical voices would get louder. And those who are in Kashmir and suffering the ire of curfewed nights and forced curtailing of free voices would be prone to fall in another wave of alienation. This will do no good to India’s further maneuvering in Kashmir and in any case, to Kashmiris’.
The political class, who pursues the weird ideas, will keep staying in the corridors of power. The blind blow of ‘consumerist politics’ In India will give no chance to the voices from Kashmir or North East to challenge its heartless celebration of success, which is meant for few who dine and wine unrelentingly and in absolute bonhomie. India’s claimed commercial feet are so antagonistic that it easily appears like a consolidating disaster.
Pakistan couldn’t be shaped as it was dreamt by Jinnah because of chronic political deviation from the basic issues. Today, India is standing at a different but strikingly difficult cusp where its blind reliance on ‘cronyism’ is making its existence dubious, and hence less respectable. This worries me. This should worry all who really believe in the ‘Idea of India’ but feel cheated when the official authority surpasses even the minimum moral ground.
A nation, once hosted the dissents like Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh, should be more careful in misusing the authority of ‘violence’. The true rapprochement with the dissenting citizens cannot be established through the acts of coercion, or by denying the position of any genuine stakeholders.
As Afzal Guru was an Indian citizen and he had already spent ten years in jail for the charge he was framed, the government and court should have spent more time in looking on the concerned tasks that could have assess those charges against him more precisely. Rather, he was awarded solitary confinement and finally snoozes on a particular time and date, suited for exhibitions of UPA governments’ tough stand on terror.
Another side of story is that juveniles and matured criminals are raping/murdering girls on street and some of them are the ‘honourable’ members of the Parliament. In such state of affairs, status quo would be a choice of option for the power holders.
Atul K Thakur
Can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Published in The Kashmir Monitor On February19, and syndicated in Rising Kashmir on February20,2013)