The Prime Minister’s visit to Srinagar has gone down well for a number of people. His words of encouragement to the youth will serve as a catalyst for many of them to take their destiny in their own hands and work hard to reap the opportunities being provided by mainstream India. The State government is reveling in the glory of the pat given for their judicious utilisation of development funds and the financial bonanza released thereof. The separatists are whining as usual but they are, in any case, inconsequential. Unfortunately, his comments on the issue of human rights violations have left the security forces, who are paying a great cost to maintain peace in the trouble, demoralised. The statement has also left a lot unsaid on the issue and what has been said is not in tune with the ground realities.
While reiterating his government’s resolve to protect human rights even when dealing with terrorism, the Prime Minister said that security forces in J&K have been strictly instructed to respect the rights of the civilians and deficiencies in the implementation of these instructions will be removed. However, by not referring to the actual perpetrators of human rights violations he has failed to establish the complete scope of problem.
Violation of human rights is not the exclusive domain of the security forces as the current thought process seems to imply. In fact, violations by some rogue elements of the forces are an aberration to their fundamental character, whereas, in the case of some other segments they are a part and parcel of a well established policy. The first and foremost segment is the terrorists, insurgents and militants, both indigenous and foreign, who inflict unspeakable atrocities on innocent people including wanton murder, torture, extortion, forced marriages etc. The second is the divisive segment of the political leadership which, in collusion with some foreign powers, is engaged in keeping the region politically and socially turbulent. This segment instigates people, indoctrinates the youth to follow the path of violence, orchestrates Hartals/Bandhs and organises stone pelting sessions. When terrorists kill entire families or loot them of their honour and belongings they are committing the most heinous crime against humanity, when a poor man is denied the right to earn his living due to calls for shut downs his human right is being violated, when a young impressionable young man is forced to follow a path that goes against the social mainstream his human right is being violated.
By singling out the security forces the Prime Minister has not only adversely impacted their morale but has also given a window of opportunity to some vested interests to step up their vitiated propaganda. Outlandish insinuations equating soldiers of the country to mercenaries are doing the rounds and uncorroborated rumours are being spread to fortify the destructive demand for revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and withdrawal of troops. In this jaundiced melee, the Prime Minister’s statement that a handful of people who do not want any political process for empowering people to succeed spread terror and security agencies are forced to act in the wake of such incidents has been lost.
There is a need to define the scope of human rights violations in its entirety and, having done so, the government should act against all perpetrators of this crime with an equal and exemplary iron fist. Castigation of a single entity just because it does not have the authority to reply back does not serve any purpose. There is no harm in revoking the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, but at the same time it should be replaced with legislations that provide for a death sentence to those found guilty of indulging in mindless violence and murder in the name of a mass people’s movement. What is happening in Kashmir is nothing more than outright terrorism and in India every terrorist should be equated with Ajmal Kasab, he should be tried in a fast track court and if found guilty sentenced to death. Similarly, stringent laws should cater for immediate arrest and prosecution under law for those who are spreading sedition and secessionism.