Centuries ago, public armies replaced private ones as the dominant tool of warfare. Today also the world has regressed to it’s old system and mercenaries are back. If we look at international conflicts, many countries hire contractors, some of whom are armed, to support it’s war effort in a foreign land. Sometimes however the mercenaries are also used to crush any rebellion against the state, like what we see presently in Kashmir. They have a clear mandate. They don’t have to consider the cause of rebellion, it’s history, it’s context etc or any humanitarian approach to deal with it. Their only concern is that they are being paid and they have to do the job. While doing so, many times they even overlook their own codes of ethics and SOPs.
Approximately seventy people have been killed during protests, since the death of Hizb commander Burhan Wani in Kashmir at the hands of so called law enforcement agencies. Among these brutal killings, some came to limelight, like the killing of the Tangpora Srinagar youth allegedly at the hands of a Police Officer and that of a Lecturer (in south Kashmir) by Army. Now the question which arises here is that why should the parents of the Tangpora youth accuse a particular police officer falsely? What was the sin of that highly qualified lecturer who was killed in custody?
Let’s accept, for the sake of argument, that all those who have been killed so far were protesters or even stone pelters, but does that warrant their killings? Has that not made the violence get cyclic? How unfortunate that hundreds of people have lost their eyesight fully or partially while protesting. And thousands have been injured. Why is it that the government of Jammu and Kashmir and particularly J&K Police is not able to understand and recognise that in democracy, people have a right to protest peacefully? Now let’s further accept that those injured or killed in these protests were engaged in violent protests, but has government ever allowed peaceful protests, gatherings or even indoor seminars in Kashmir, particularly after 2008 uprising?
Just to understand the police version and their attitude about the current happenings in Kashmir I discussed the alleged atrocities of police with one of my friend who works in J&K Police as officer. He argued that in every country across the world whosoever acts against the state is dealt brutally and in the same fashion. It was heartbreaking for me to hear such an argument. Just because something happens across the world does not justify that. If for example rapes happen all over the world, does that mean that rapes are normal? Such an argument is the characteristic of tyranny. No government has the right to curb the fundamental rights of people. And any government doing so cannot be called as democratic. If Kashmir is the so called integral part of India then Kashmiries should enjoy the same kind of democracy which is being enjoyed for example by the people of Delhi. Another question which arises here, is that, is there any scope of dissent in democracy? Also let’s accept, for the sake of argument, that whosoever acts against the interest of the state are dealt similarly across the world, but then what about freedom struggles. Jammu and Kashmir has a history and a context and thus the present uprising should be understood accordingly. The “Instrument of Accession” was conditional. Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir who signed the “Instrument of Accession” was not an elected head of the state and thus had no moral right to sign that document. Further there had already been a popular movement going on against Maharaja Rule. The Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir (Shiekh Abdullah) in 1953 was unjustly arrested and thus the “Instrument of Accession” was never respected. Lets further accept that the people of Jammu and Kashmir are acting against the state and should be deal brutally (ironically), but then, is not the state also responsible for the welfare of its own people? The approach of New Delhi towards Kashmir since 1947 is quite evident. Is India delivering any welfare to the people of Kashmir by making it the highest militarised zone in the world? Reality needs to be understood objectively, and the reality is that when people of Jammu and Kashmir have a responsibility and a right to elect their own government, they have a right to disagree with the same and protest too.
History is witness to the fact that in 2008 there was a mass transaction in Kashmir from armed struggle to peaceful protests, but then the peaceful movement was crushed with brute force. The ideals of democracy, liberty and equality can be traced back to French Revolution. Many English and French philosophers of that time advocated that man has certain fundamental rights which no government can take away. Right to rebellion against injustice is one such right. Any democratic government cannot curb the right of people to protest peacefully.
Government and It’s machinery is the creation of society, turning against the same is criminal. Police is paid out of the taxes of common people. In a way, society is the employer of Police personals. Their duty towards common masses is no favour from their side. Their job is not to take dictations from politicians only. They are not above people, rather they are for people. From society they come and towards society they have to return. Stop being like disguised mercenaries. Please.
Imran Khan M.Phil-Psychology, Previously worked as “Psychologist” in Action Aid International, Medicines Sans Frontiers, J&K Police Drug De-addiction Services and as Project Assistant Capacity Building in Department of Social Work Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi.