25 Years of Impunity under AFSPA in Kashmir

By Lalit Shukla,

On 5th July 1990, Indian State declared Kashmir valley and parts of Rajouri and Poonch district as “disturbed area” (while Jammu was declared as “disturbed area” in 2001) and imposed a draconian law named Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) to fight militancy and insurgency empowering armed forces to use lethal forces against any person who is acting in contravention of any law or order, destroy shelters or training camps from which armed attacks are likely to made, arrest any person without warrant on suspense who has committed or about to commit a cognizable crime, enter and search anywhere without warrant, stop, search and seize any vehicle on suspense on acting personnel’s opinion. The law gives guaranty that no prosecution, suit or other legal proceeding shall be instituted against any person in respect of anything done or purported to be done in exercise of the powers conferred by this Act.

afspa

In order to understand the reason of militancy and insurgency, one must look into the history of state oppression and people’s resistance. Continuously cheated and misrepresented by Indian state; disappeared, tortured, injured, and humiliated by Indian armed forces; Kashmiri people are tired of “world’s biggest democracy”. Indian nationalist media and film industry has no lesser role in deepening the problem by neglecting Kashmiri people’s voice and inciting national sentiments against them throughout the country. For nationalist media, Pakistani flag in protest rally is more troubling than tens of thousands people have been killed, hundreds of thousands of people have been tortured and humiliated in last 25 years. Even in natural disasters, nationalist media ask to the victims “How do they feel?” and “Where are the separatist leaders?”

A report released earlier this week by Amnesty International India titled “DENIED: Failures in accountability for human rights violations by security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir” states

“Indian security forces have been deployed in Jammu and Kashmir for decades, officially tasked with protecting civilians, upholding national security and combatting violence by armed groups. However, in the name of security operations, security force personnel have committed many grave human rights violations which have gone unpunished. The failure to address these abuses violates the rights of the victims and survivors to justice and remedy, which is enshrined in the Constitution of India and international human rights law.”

In August 2011, State Human Rights Commission reported 2730 bodies buried in unmarked graves in north Kashmir but no further action has been taken to punish the people responsible for genocide. The report explains the impunity under AFSPA and the official views.

“To date, not a single member of the security forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir over the past 25 years has been tried for alleged human rights violations in a civilian court. An absence of accountability has ensured that security force personnel continue to operate in a manner that facilitates serious human rights violations. A former senior military official publicly argued in October 2013: “Immunity under AFSPA allows our soldiers to make mistakes. Insurgency will come to an end, you need to train soldiers better, I agree, but don’t remove the AFSPA.”

Thousands of people have been picked from their homes by security personals and never came back. Thousands of women are waiting for their husband to come back, they are known as “half-widows”. Thousands of children are waiting to see their fathers, thousands mothers are waiting to have a look of their children. Continuous autocracy of armed forces and almost non-function justice system has made to loose people’s faith in Indian State. As Amnesty International India reports,

“All of the 58 families interviewed by Amnesty International India said they had little or no faith that those responsible for human rights violations will be brought to justice, given the lack of accountability for security forces in Jammu and Kashmir over the past two decades. Due to the secrecy surrounding the sanction decision process, families are rarely, if ever, informed of sanction decisions issued by the authorities, and therefore are unable to challenge sanction denials.”

“The climate of impunity encourages human rights violations to continue. Faith in the government and judiciary is almost non-existent in Jammu and Kashmir.” AmnestyAFSPA

Attitude of Indian state towards J&K has made situation no better. Military occupation is never a solution of such issue. Such impunity can never bring peace on the land. Put filthy nationalism aside, listen the people and believe in them, and stop cheating them.

Arundhati Roy aptly said on this issue, “The Indian military occupation of Kashmir makes monsters of us all. It allows Hindu chauvinist to target and victimize Muslims in India by holding them hostage to the freedom struggle being waged by Muslims in Kashmir. It’s all being stirred into a poisonous brew and administered intravenously, straight into our bloodstream.”

Most of the political parties of India better say New Delhi follow the same ideology of oppression and torture for Kashmiri people. Hindu nationalist middle class India doesn’t have a glimpse of what does AFSPA mean to day to day life of people living under it. You look a very responsible citizen of so called world’s largest democracy when you put profile picture with voting mark on your finger nail. But this mark of democracy is very bloody in Kashmir.

We must understand this hypocrisy of governments. We must understand what people of Kashmir are facing in their everyday life. We must know the feelings when your father is going to earn bread for family and you are not sure whether he will come back tonight or not. We must know the feelings of humiliation when before reaching to your school you have to go through many check-posts. We must understand how it feels when people think you as terrorist/extremist just because you are a Kashmiri Muslim. We must understand the feeling when a Kashmiri has to lose his life just to satisfy national consciousness of your bloodsucking nation.

Every form of nationalism is vulgar if it can’t see its people’s suffering. Put your filthy nationalism aside. Let the people of Kashmir decide. Don’t forget the history. Don’t forget what was promised to them. Don’t forget how your government cheated them. Don’t be let it just an election agenda. If our government is doing wrong and we are not resisting, our silence gives permission to them to carry on the oppression.

The writer a passionate reader and considers himself a fellow traveller of all those who doesn’t believe ‘life is a race’. He blogs at https://asongfornextday.wordpress.com/ and can be contacted at lalitshukla007@gmail.com