On December, 10, the world will celebrate Human Rights Day. This date coincides with the adoption and proclamation of the universal declaration of human rights by the United Nations General Assembly’s in 1948.
For many years, in Kashmir, the day has been marked by protests. On this day, the Hurriyat Conference, a minuscule separatist segment in the Kashmiri political landscape, invariably attempts to project the fallacy of the Indian state as an oppressor of human rights. Last year, it spread out its activities over one week from 3, December to 10, December, 2018. All of this was done at the behest of Pakistan, with finances too provided by the country.
Such fallacious attempts by the separatists have not elicited any results so far because they are based on a subjective view and posture on the sensitive issues of Human Rights (HR) violations in Kashmir. It is for this reasons that the protests have always been a classic case of being, “full of sound and fury but signifying nothing.”
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, there are many voices, led by Pakistan, that are raising the bogey of HR violations. These voices have vested interests, mostly financial in nature.
It is to the credit of the Government of India that it correctly appreciated the possibility of some outside powers leveraging the changed structure in the state to create dissension and disruption and took precautionary steps by imposing certain restrictions and by detaining a few among the leadership who were identified as trouble makers.
The world has understood the good intentions of the Government of India and has remained steadfast in support of the same. The overwhelming international perception is that change in the political structure of the region is an internal matter for India that should not elicit any outside interference. On the issue of detentions and restrictions, the world is content with the assurance that these have been necessitated to maintain peace in the region and, being temporary in nature, will be removed as soon as the situation stabilises.
The government has stood by its word and most restrictions have been removed. Many of those detained have been released while some remain in custody; they will also be released as soon as situation is found to be conducive. The state has witnessed a peaceful transition where many had predicted and also threatened widespread violence and mayhem should any attempt be made to change its constitutional status. The world has been watching very closely and is not unaware of the developments. That the international leadership has remained quiet is a vindication of the steps taken by the government.
The issue of HR violations by terrorists has plagued Kashmir ever since the advent of foreign sponsored terrorism in the state. Highly respected persons like the devout Mirwaiz Mohammad Farook, separatist leader Abdul Gani Lone and several others were not spared by the terrorists. They were brutally murdered despite being unconditionally committed to the cause of self determination. Surprisingly, the separatists and other such leaders who are today eloquent about the region being suppressed have never criticised these cold blooded and senseless murders. Such forces have been seeing a HR violation when legitimate counter-terrorist operations are being conducted by security forces, but they tend to ignore the abduction and killing of innocent Kashmiri’s as cases deserving strong condemnation. They have been very prompt in ordering shutdowns to protest against the killing of terrorists in encounters but have remained mute spectators when innocents are killed or injured by terrorists.
However, the gruesome manner in which terrorists have been murdering and endangering lives of civilians and using cover of crowds to attack security forces is the actual benchmark on which the HR violations in Kashmir need to be considered. The Indian nation is sensitive about this threat to citizens of the country and has taken all necessary steps to ensure their safety and security. The fact that the number of operative terrorists in the region has reduced drastically due to sustained operations by Indian security forces needs to be seen as a big success achieved by the state in protection of the Human Rights of the people.
It cannot be denied that the Kashmiri people have faced certain violation of the rights in the period of turmoil, even being incessantly checked on the streets is a violation of human dignity. The people have suffered immensely in the sad situation thus evolved. The fact of all of this being an outcome of the advent of terrorism which led to the establishment of a security dragnet to challenge the same cannot be overlooked. Both aspects have to be considered in tandem.
India has, despite monumental challenges being faced due to foreign sponsored terrorism, always complied with and respected internationally recognised human rights. Such an approach is in concert with the age old ideology of peaceful coexistence and respect for human values that form the fundamental principles of the country. The world is quite aware as to who the actual perpetrator of HR violations is and paid stooges in the information domain cannot change this reality.
On Human Rights Day, the Indian nation needs to stand as one and take a solemn oath to do whatever is possible to wrest the beautiful land of Jammu and Kashmir and its people from the foreign sponsored shadow of the gun and to ensure that the people enjoy the fruits of democracy and freedom as is their right under the Constitution of the country. A consolidated effort in this direction that involves the people, the government and the civil society is bound to accrue positive results.
(Jaibans Singh is a defence expert, columnist and author)