Guest post by SAMEER BHAT
Hectic parleys are on at the moment to jettison the dreaded AFSPA in the valley. By conservative estimates the army must have beaten about one in every five Kashmiris at one point or the other since this piece of horrible legislation was slapped on us. An unjust law, is no law at all, Martin Luther, the symbol of protestant reformation, verbalized the sentiment of St Augustine in the 15th century. Rings true to this day.
For more than twenty years people have been punched, thrown in the back of military trucks, knocked down by gun-butts, given kicks, pushed around as they got off a bus or simply slapped around for no apparent reason. Just for being themselves, perhaps. No you could not question the moral turpitude of a military-walla from Madras if he clubbed your aging father.
All that may change now. At least that is what we have been picking up from palace sources. The grapevine is abuzz that ever since Omar’s Range Rover (signal flags with farmer’s humble plough shaking rapidly on the luxury bonnet) could not overtake a military lorry — greatly upsetting the grandson — the young CM (he is forever young and must be called thus till his children come of age), has decided to put his foot down. On a more serious note AFSPA has become Kashmir’s Horcrux: How will they finally destroy it?
There is a little detail though that needs ironing but friends inform that there is no electricity in Srinagar. To scrap the law — that the UN calls colonial-era, breaching contemporary international human rights standards — another legislation/notification (God knows what jargon they use for it) needs to be annulled. It is a gift by an ex governor with big glasses and little compassion, following his subjective opinion. Plebians call it the Disturbed Areas Act.
Technically we were all disturbed for the last twenty one years. Disturb is actually based on Latin tumultus or tumult and applies better to physical agitation. In that sense Kashmir has been agitating for several decades. Omar’s grand-dad was also affected by the same tumult until he decided to forgo his defiance that saw him being sent to bars by ‘friends’. Now we are no longer disturbed, the first family thinks. Must be clap or cry.
As 2011 draws to a close and deadlines to get the law removed get stretched, one wonders if Omar’s Delhi friends shall help him relegate the law to where it belongs — the dustbin of history. Ofcourse armymen with shok-shereen (whistles), shooing people off the roads, in fast moving convoys, will object. The entire defence establishment will fight it down. Soz, even as his moustache gets smaller and smaller, will oppose.
But a law that shields every non-commissioned fellow — read a mere trooper — to shoot and kill small children – as young as 9 — based on mere suspicion to “maintain the public order” needs to go.
There is plenty of law at the end of a nightstick.
(Sameer Bhat is a journalist.)
From Kafila archives:
- Gowhar Geelani: AFSPA – Armed Forces’ Say Prevails Anyway