Tuesday, March 17, 2009

'Protecting Human Rights = Protecting Killers ?'

[Also published on south Indian journal, Counter Currents]

In Kashmir, leaders likely support this equilibrium.Nearly one lakh Kashmiris have been victims of 'imposed disappearances',torture and killings

While previous governments now have admitted that many persons are missing, it was claimed that most of them had crossed the border into Pakistan to become militants.Under International Humanitarian Law,it is a crime because the previous innumerable cases have not been solved or even filed and the tradition of continual disappearances in Kashmir continues.'Unmarked graves' in Kashmir are deemed as 'unidentified foreign militants' by the Government of India-- who in reality were picked up by Indian Armed Forces,killed in custody and then falsely identified as foreign militants.In many cases, when relatives have succeeded in their demand to have graves exhumed, their claims have been found to be correct.People are not bitten by wild monkeys when they come out on streets.People don't protest for fun but it is actually the 'failure of deliverance' which drives them out of their homes.

According to Association of the Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP),Srinagar,"Our report alleges that more than 8,000 persons have gone missing in Jammu & Kashmir since 1989.Since 2006, the graves of at least 940 people are reported to have been discovered in 18 villages in Uri district alone.The existence of multiple graves which, because of their proximity to Pakistan controlled-areas, are in areas not accessible without the specific permission of the security forces. The Indian authorities put the figure at less than 4.000, claiming that most of these went to Pakistan to join armed opposition groups.A state police report confirmed some deaths in custody of 331 persons, and also 111 enforced disappearances following detention since 1989".

Tariq Ali, an eminent British intellectual wrote an article on London Review of Books where he stated, "An Amnesty International letter to the Indian prime minister in 2008 listed his country’s human rights abuses in Kashmir and called for an independent inquiry, claiming that ‘grave sites are believed to contain the remains of victims of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other abuses which occurred in the context of armed conflict persisting in the state since 1989. The graves of at least 940 persons have reportedly been found in 18 villages in Uri district alone.’ A local NGO, the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir (IPTK), states that extrajudicial killings and torture are a commonplace in the valley and that Western institutions don’t even try to do anything about this for fear of damaging relations with New Delhi. The figures provided by the IPTK are startling. It claims that the Indian military occupation of Kashmir ‘between 1989-2009 has resulted in 70,000+ deaths’. The report disputes claims that these killings are aberrations. On the contrary, they are part of the occupation process, considered as ‘acts of service’, and leading to promotion and financial reward (bounty is paid after claims made by officers are verified)."

In December 2009 International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian Administered Kashmir (IPTK) in collaboration with APDP produced another report called, "Buried Evidence" (www.kashmirprocess.org) in which IPTK has put the number of unmarked and massgraves at 2700 (having 2943 bodies) in Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora Districts.
Unlawful killings,draconian-like laws,arbitrary arrests and high levels of torture are direct violations to international humanitarian laws and are viewed as international crimes-To which State of India is a party.The extraordinary license of 'shoot to kill' is renewed with installation of every new government.The failure to deliver justice where the agencies have found that criminal acts have occurred,is an obvious indictment of all draconian powers including 'Armed Forces (Jammu & Kashmir) Special Powers Act' and 'Disturbed Area Act.'.We should salute the efforts of all Human Rights defenders who have silenced all uncivilized critics and have helped the society by exposing these barbaric facts to a higher degree.

According to popular sentiment,people are urging the Government to:

A)Immediately install a 'Truth Commission' in accordance with international humanitarian standards to inquire into serious violations by Security Forces for investigations regarding all disappearances and killings.

B)Revoke all laws enacted such as DAA,PSA and AFSPA which authorize excessive use of force beyond the limits of Human Rights Protection bodies.

C)Strengthen State Human Rights Commission.The state and national governments should take appropriate 'action' based only on the commission's recommendations.

D)Immediately respond to requests for necessary measures to ensure the protection of human rights defenders and civil society activists.

E)Strengthen and enforce laws and policies that protect detainees from brutal torture and other mistreatment

Installation of the Truth Commission would clarify incidents of killings,torture and disappearances in order to build a robust record of abuses by institutionalizing responsibility.It will identify individuals at senior levels who were involved in planning and executing such abuses.Governments here suffer from a 'conflict of interest' that has led to omitting of key perpetrators and embezzling evidence during investigations.In order to confuse,these cruel fakes participate in intimidation of witnesses and complaints and other questionable practices.There have been unfair evidential burdens which families face in proving 'disappearances' and extrajudicial executions because the State Government exclusively controls the 'evidence archives' necessary to prove violations-which it rarely turn over.Officials & Bureaucrats in Kashmir are champions in shifting the burden of proof to refute the allegation of violations.Harassment has immorally imitated witnesses which has caused complainants to withdrew cases after repeated abuse.

In order to remedy violations,Government should provide compensation to victims and their beneficiaries based on spectrum of rights violations they have suffered such as:

A)Free admissions in Schools,Universities,Colleges & Special Provisions in Job recruitment.

B)Health Assistance for physical and mental harm incurred by victims and their families.

C)Expunge criminal records of false cases filed against victims and their family members.

D)Develop memorials that commemorate and acknowledge innocent victims of the counterinsurgency abuses.

E)Determining the 'final fate' of disappeared and killed.

There should be a 'genuine course of action' which should meet obligations to investigate violations by taking appropriate measures ensuring that those suspected of criminal responsibility are prosecuted and duly punished. People have been struggling for truth and justice since late 1980's. A long lasting peace perhaps would be the biggest tribute to families who have been victimized through violence. People should build intense pressure for action to raise the cost of human rights abuse.

Quote Reference:Amnesty International(www.amnesty.org)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dal Lake:The Dying Heritage

[Also published on View Point, Rising Kashmir on 30 March, 2011]

[Also published on Kashmir Dispatch]

The IK group

Study of environment helps in sustaining development within a nation and it harmonizes peace with nature . We have to 'return to nature'. It is our responsibility to establish a genial relationship with nature. Kashmiris however have unfortunately suffered from corrupt officials, religious zealots and extortionists. This has left deep scars on our lives, economy and ofcourse-'ecology '. Vale of Kashmir is bestowed with beautiful meadows, streams, rich green forests making it the most unparalleled land on earth. Having said that,the healthy aura of our natural resources has been exploited just for luxury-'without realizing its consequences'.

To gauge the nature of these issues,it is essential to know the magnitude of misery inflicted on environment. There have been no strict and effective measures for it till now . Our disaster management has itself proved as a disaster. The other unfortunate fact is the lack of 'environmental education' among the masses. We seriously lack any ethics or civic sense. Erosion in Kashmiri morality has resulted as an erosion in our 'traditional values'-gifted to us by our great saints . It has also introduced a new life style in our traditional culture which opposed our traditonal, home grown values.

Over the years, The Dal Lake has been encroached upon and been polluted. Due to our uncaring attitude, lake is shrinking in size because the 'weed growth' has interrupted its size. Its purity has been affected through pollutants from its catchments. In recent years, hanji orchardists have developed and used chemical fertilizers which literally get washed off with the lake. The health of the lake has reached to an epidemic level. Tourism has played no less a role in contributing to the pollution and contamination of the atmosphere and it has also created an imbalance in the natural vista and phenomenon. The noisy and talkative tourists are busy munching their food carried in polythene packets and throwing these away heedlessly into our waters and its environs.

According to World Wide Fund for Nature, Switzerland,"The entire Kashmir valley forms the catchment area of the lake and it carries a large amount of untreated organic and inorganic waste from townships and houseboat moorings". The State business tycoons and industrialists have had recently quarreled on a media channel stating that the degradation of Dal lake has not taken place by any houseboat moorings. This statement of theirs reflects gross ignorance about the geographic phenomena in their motherland. Thus putting forth any counter argument against these inauspicious facts reflects nothing but crude ignorance through which some people try to justify their business endeavors.

The lake is a source of livelihood to thousands of people residing around. They should identify its unhealthy boundaries and several proposals should be formulated for its protection and preservation. It is obvious that whichever group and political agency takes hold of the state, the unavoidable noose of powerful business tycoons is destined to hang around their neck, of course with their own selfish choice and welcome gesture. It is a high time for the authorities to revise over and make a thorough reappraisal of the laws,rules and regulations in order to regulate the morals and effective methods. A cultural revolution is needed with the aim of saving this unique heritage.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Corruption in Kashmir

[Also published on Op-ed, Rising Kashmir - June 19, 2011]

Kashmir sits at the top brace in the league of corruption in India. The lust for 'greed and power' in Kashmir, has granted huge amount of money in hands of some people, while most of the people have become increasingly poor. There is corruption at every level, every sphere and every degree in our social order. Obtaining riches has taken all priorities of life. Traditional ethics have been mocked - if we are not shocked by it, why don't we atleast emphasize that obtaining money or a service through illicit means is sinful?

Adventures of corruption have suffocated both public and private sectors. Corruption in one form or the other, has been part of our social strata, and has variegated incidence in different times and at different places. This has lead to despair and resignation on the part of those people who are concerned about it, which mainly include social activists and intellectual commentators. Yet, it has received remarkably little attention from administration and state actors. Our corruption rate is so high that it is difficult to understand which science or which benefit analysis would preclude it from its inclination.

Kashmir has been choked to death by cumbersome and dishonest bureaucracies, thereby slowing down any economical, social and technological advances. Elections for pro-Indians and massive agitations for separatists have given nativity to immoral practices -- 'speedy money' through 'fat levy bribes.' The amount of red tape, mockery of judicial system and political hooliganism at our place is highly alarming. Starting from a ward councilor to a MLA, allegations of corruption have been heard of. Public money has resulted as a free gift. Corruption has brilliantly blended in our lives, in a way that we have totally lost sense of it. Unless and until the top hierarchical order don't show any dedication in chopping the 'weeds of corruption,' from the root levels, no one can prevent it from growing, either today or in the near future.

There are many facets of corruption. Political. Economical. Moral. Social. Legal.
Some have even tainted it to be as fearful as terrorism. Infact, it facilitates terrorism. Religion, western philosophy and psychology calls it a crime - a major offence.

Corrupts have learned boldness and have won an 'influence of expansion.' In our society, it has facilitated outlaws, revenge seekers, incompetents and pseudo pacifists. Due to menacing corruption, home grown wars, varied goals and competing cultures have been institutionalized. Social inclusiveness has taken a halt. It has alleviated our political conflict, and acquired a major role to play because people have taken it to imposing heights. The masses have been petrified and terrified because this 'degree' of action has hacked their social domain, thereby giving them emotional tortures.

Bad governance is also inherent to corruption. If leaders desist from being accessories to it, or condemn it strongly, our society will be less corrupt and this will enhance peace, development and stability in our territorial domains.

The people who work on daily wages in factories or the mazdoors, rehri wala, small owners of convenient stores, darzis and wazas are not corrupt. Unfortunately it is the 'educated class' of our society, the bureaucracy, the politicians, the service sector associates, who are suffering from this trait of corruption - favoritism - nepotism - degeneracy, in other words. There is a need to implement genuine education against corruption, and that can help in bringing certain sophistication, an elevated culture and optimism in ones personality. It can cleanse out skepticism from our mentality, and can eventually make us aware and perceptive individuals.

A bribe in Kashmir is endorsed as a gift, an incentive for service for a considered promise; but threats evolving from these bribes are far more dangerous to our society - both in terms of long term and short term forecasting. It seriously halts our platform for any kind of emancipation. As poorer people slide deep into economic trouble, the social devastation it causes, is merely evaded or excused. It has given us putrefaction and aggravation.

Our economics has been badly affected by these debase practices. Just like tyranny, corruption is a great disease to any society. There is a need to focus on the tension between 'self-seeking behavior' and 'public values.' High levels corruption are associated with our economic sector also. It has reduced the efficiency of our industrial policies, levels of output in investment and there is a growth of violations in financial regulations. There have been no reforms which could reduce incentives for bribery and decrease the risk of corruption. The total elimination of corruption from our society is improbable but steps can be taken to limit its reach and reduce the harm it causes.

Given the perceived high levels of corruption in Kashmir and the way it has been institutionalized, the pattern has resulted in an unauthorized leakage in social and administrative levels. It is a pity that neither of our political leaders nor our administrators ever talk of corruption, its levels, and its minimization as a remedial strategy, of either of the various plans laid down by activists and visionaries of civil society. In the matrix of anti-corruption strategies in world order, the level of commitment of political leaders and the adequacy of anti-corruption measures, Kashmir perhaps falls in the’hopeless’ strategy cell, indicating extremely weak political commitment and inadequate anti-corruption measures.

Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Doable Concept of 'Azaadi'

The IK Group

The concept of independent Kashmir measures the aspiration among the masses in abidance as the present political arrangement is not recognized by international structures i.e UNCIP etc.The gradual erosion of 'Azaadi sentiment' has been through unfair diplomatic means .Over the years, leaders have failed in institutionalizing the claims of the people.The legislative bodies developed on both sides are marketed as a substitute for self determination.Leaders have embedded the right of self determination' into respective legislative assemblies,thereby eroding the aspirations of the masses.Without signing the 'written affidavit' of allegiance to both countries,no political institution is allowed to take part in the election.The present spatial attributes of resolution are clear-A relationship should continue to be based on centralized power structure from New Delhi and Islamabad.

The current arrangement directly or indirectly predetermines the accession to Pakistan and India respectively . Several international independent analysts have stated that elections have never been held freely.Election commissions have sponsored manipulated and spoofed elections, especially in 1987 elections. At the same time, there have been no international voices to condemn these practices. How do we expect a resolution possible or Kashmir to develop, when the conditions created are hostile for safety by both India and Pakistan? The communal twist flavored and mood of hostility created by leaders on both sides will soon turn Kashmir into a wild fanatic state by creating another Taliban with Ak47 as the major export.

Endorsement of legal powers in accord with international conventions which safeguard rights-liberties and redistribute attributes of sovereignty is needed through genuine evolution from actors of both countries.Post 1996,the 'Azaadi sentiment' has acquired a major role in ensconcing the dispute for the process of accommodation.But the biggest hindrance faced by the people is that the leaders have succeeded in evolving a 'trait of flexibility' for the fear of getting irrelevant.The reason for that has been the 'lust for power and wealth'.This has unfortunately created an environment of 'mistrust' and 'social fragmentation'.

The concept of 'Azaadi' should address Indian stands,Pakistani Stands as well as Kashmiri stands through a tripartisan solution by balancing the political,legal and social persuasions of the people.'Internal sovereignty' is more important than concepts of autonomy and self rule.This is the main reason why many attempts regarding implementation of prevailing ideas have failed. An accomplishable resolution can be implemented through enabling an environment of demilitarization , developing new prototype political structures within the region and through shared economic integration(drafted in one economic union) between three parties.Joint institutions created would co-ordinate newly formed relationships.The state of India and Pakistan have failed to genuinely address the issue so far because they have been provided a 'liberty of multiple interpretations'.

The only substitute for dialogue is violence.Every day when these leaders delay talks, at least 20-30 people add up to the list of casualties. The best method in decreasing level of violence is through peaceful negotiations. It is a long term concept for establishing peace.However, there have been no hints of an international intervention-their role has been resisted to mere spectators.Violence has fretted the essence of 'Azaadi' by hijacking our social domain. Leaders are slaves of the prevailing sentiment and have crossed all ideological extremes to facilitate an invalid democratic establishment.This is a harsh reality.Massive human right violations have alleviated the scope for armed and non armed secessionist movements as a result of failure initiated by both countries.

The methodology that would facilitate a resolution would be:

A)Identifying the roots of conflict.

B)Revering the sacrifices rendered.

C)Democratic evaluation by initiating the right of self determination.

D)Redefining political and military institutions in the new state of affairs.

E)Making independent homeland as the most important element in the resolution process.

F)Outmost sincerity and dedication in pursuing the resolution.

G)Involving leaders in an 'inclusive process' from all strands of political thought.