On December, 10, every year, the world celebrates Human Rights Day. This date coincides with the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1948.
For many years, in Kashmir, the day has been marked by protests and fallacious attempts to project the Indian state as an oppressor of human rights. This year things have been vastly different. The Human Rights Day coincided with conduct of the fifth phase of the District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir. As the polling for the day culminated, the State Election Commissioner, Shri KK Sharma stated that over 51 per cent of people voted peacefully and enthusiastically across 37 seats that went for polls across the state.
DDC is a new concept introduced on October, 17, by the Government of India by amending the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 and J&K Panchayati Raj Rules, 1996. Its objective is to strengthen grassroots democracy and the Panchayati Raj system. The DDC election is being held in eight phases and will culminate on December, 19; results will be declared on December, 22. It is to the credit of the people, the administration and the security forces that the election is being conducted in a peaceful manner.
Another welcome event on the occasion was observance of “National Human Rights Day” by the Legal Services Authorities (LSA) of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh. This was done under the visionary leadership of Justice A.M. Magrey. Several programmes were held to commemorate the adoption of UDHR.
The peaceful environment prevalent in the state has put paid to all allegations of Human Rights violations that certain vested interest in the state, with support of inimical foreign forces, attempt to spread year after year. Such fallacious attempts have not elicited any results so far because they are based on a subjective view and posture. The protests have always been, “full of sound and fury but signifying nothing.”
Some voices could not be deterred from attempting to vitiate the environment. National Conference President Farooq Abdullah chose this occasion to claim that “unilateral” and “unconstitutional” scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status has coincided with a steep rise in the infringement of fundamental and human rights in the Union Territory. His statement has not elicited much consideration since it very obviously and blatantly has a political overtone.
In the present scenario, where a sincere attempt is being made by the Government of India to usher absolute freedom and democracy in the region by removal of draconian, inhibiting and unconstitutional legislations like Article 370 and Article 35A, voices like that of Farooq Abdullah are at the behest of some very big powers having a vested interest in weakening Kashmir and further the whole of India.
Jammu and Kashmir today is enjoying the fruits of democracy and experiencing all facets of freedom that being part of a great democratic country like India entails. Such political leaders who had to be detained due to security consideration post the abrogation of Article 370 and change in status of the region in August 2019 are now free and participating actively in the DDC elections in support of their candidates. All people are expressing themselves freely and electing their representatives from the grass roots upwards. Media is covering all issues without inhibition or pressure as it has been doing always; those who insinuate that the media is being muzzled are telling a white lie.
Another welcome change that has come by is the marked reduction of violence and disruption in the form of stone pelting, Hartals (Strikes), Bandhs (lockouts), processions etc. It is so since the people have realised the fallacy of such disruptive activities that caused avoidable loss of life and property; alongside, the wings of the foreign sponsored perpetrators of these evil activities have also been clipped and their financial conduits sealed. The sponsored nature of the agitations with the help of financial power is now quite apparent.
The people have challenged foreign sponsored terrorism with great courage and fortitude to reach to the present situation where it stands virtually eliminated. The few terrorists who are active are under severe pressure through incisive counter-terrorist operations being conducted with minimum collateral damage. In these operations ample opportunity for surrender is being given to such youth who have been coerced or misguided into following the self destructive path. In a welcome development, many are availing of this opportunity. The peace constituency thus created is giving to the people an opportunity to go about their work without fear or intimidation.
India has a distinguished record in the creation and observance of the UDHR having been a member of the first Commission on Human Rights, which was charged with the task of drafting an ‘International Bill of Rights.’ The Indian delegates demonstrated a remarkable degree of magnanimity and foresight in their contributions towards the formation of the UDHR. They were able to translate into words and action lessons learnt from decades of the freedom struggle. The Indian resolution formed one of the documents on the basis of which drafting of the UDHR could begin. The UDHR later contributed to the formation of the Constitution of India. In later years India always stood up for human rights and social justice globally.
To insinuate that a civilised and enlightened country like India would do anything that is detrimental to the liberty and rights of its own people is atrocious to say the least. The troubles faced in Jammu and Kashmir had a foreign signature and were aimed at striking the integrity of the nation. They failed because the country challenged them with the strength of its inherent humanity, righteousness and sense of justice. Human Rights Day, this year, has witnessed a new dawn in Kashmir, a region that has suffered immensely due to rapacious interventions by evil foreign powers.
(Jaibans Singh is a social worker, columnist and public speaker)