By Dr.Abdul Majid Siraj
Wake up to facts;
Be in this world;
Spread the truth;
O Beloved, take me
Liberate my soul,
Fill me with your love
And release me
It is imperative that people of Jammu & Kashmir align themselves in one direction and take stock of where they were in the living past, where they are now and how far is the endpoint? The recent history has been very eventful with suffering raised to crisis proportions and despairing adversity unabated. In a simple equation of cause and effect theory we can fathom out what faces us now as the outcome, can we then also determine by inquiry what was wrong and what went wrong in passing times as causal factors? We have firsthand knowledge of the transition because we lived through it. Is it providence? That needs an act of penitence or do we see accelerated suffering as a result of navigational errors in leadership in its journey. As individuals and collectively as a nation there have been mistakes made. People were lured by nemesis; some turned outright adversaries and started killing their own people. A fatigue has set in and a part of the population has lost bearings on realities of the revolution they are going through. This morning, Soura and Nowhata people were incarcerated with curfew restrictions while Residency Road shops were open and the traffic was normal. This is a simple illustration of the larger picture of divisive manipulation operating to divide and rule. Other examples are offering perks and spreading disinformation to divide their ranks. As the purgatory of living through a revolution must go on, a direction for that reason alone is imperative. The cause of Kashmir dispute is the monolith facade of unsettled sovereignty for which people are struggling; the effect of strident repercussions has assumed mammoth proportions.
My intercept at this stage is to beg for deliverance. Quoting Rumi again, we are reminded of his devotion to God and what people of Kashmir opine in their allegiance to divinity in prayers.
From the two worlds,
If I set my heart on
Anything but you,
Let fire burn me from inside
All people in Jammu & Kashmir have a committed devotion to Right to Self-determination (RSD) and this right has the backing of the whole international community and provisions in law. There are two outstanding foundational bases that underscore RSD germane to them.
- The premise that Kashmir is an integral part of India is the crunch where the crucial schism of facts intercede. Indian position with that background does not recognize RSD. India is the largest democracy in the world. Slogans for freedom and right to self-determination are not accepted in an already established archetypal democracy. In real political norms, cession in these political constituencies is neither a viable preposition nor a legal mandate in international law.
However, it was not established that Kashmir is an integral part of either dominion at any deliberations held for that purpose or with any agreement signed with people. It is evident as daylight that if J&K was an integral part of India then there would be no accords, no constitutional inclusions, no UN interventions, no bilateral debates with outside countries and no violent reaction to insurrection or uprising by its organic populations. In these circumstances RSD does not equate cession. It remains to be seen when and where sovereignty rights over Jammu & Kashmir are established and by whom? Until then by implication, people here will continue to have a valid claim to RSD.
- The second most important basis for validity of RSD demand is human rights violations.
India has made changes to reinforce its own model of a democracy diverging from the classical western liberal, free market template. Standing on these democratic foundations, India appears to be changing horses midstream in laws of privacy, libertarian values and foreign policy issues. Some say there is semblance of a sneaky authoritarianism in governance. It is apparent that Indian establishment portrays how it seems to love people at the interface with them in villages and cities, they then travel back to corridors of power, the blocks North and South, their working practices become harsh and sanctity of human values may take a back seat in decision making.
Likewise populations of Kashmir are ‘beloved citizens of India’ but it is still accepted practice to cordon households off into confinement, search their homes, and use deadly force to punish them in ghastly ways leading to death. The lesser forms include incapacitating, incarcerating, or injuring youth and gorging their eyes to blind them. Consequently these extreme forms of human rights violations validate RSD. That is the standing law. Indian and international human rights organizations have abundant evidence stored in their repositories to validate the claims.
Indian Attempts at Resolution
Machiavellian factors creep in and bureaucratic weapons are used to prop policies with party or personal advantages. In thematic application of this prototype scheme to Kashmir we have seen interlocutors and working groups deployed to offer peace at people level and back in high offices more force applied as retribution, devices contemplated that stimulate a vicious circle of tears and blood. Facing the world in this model of governance the envoys representing the nation noticeably change the language of focus altogether. As India champions foreign policy humanitarian concerns, Kashmir gets dissolved in broader ambit of terrorism. The world loses sight of Kashmir’s factual background and spotlight will shift on the menace of terrorism in the world.
In the aftermath of UN deliberations of 1948 and onwards, no debates were held on the sovereignty issue. It is argued therefore that people of Kashmir are entitled to demand as a right for their choice of future political association to be settled once for all. In making the point further in a lucid manner, we have to delve into the present covenants of relations between India and the State. In democracies, all freedoms are guaranteed by statute. This is the ideal all across members of democratic fraternity entrenched in this kind of governance. On a bilateral level with Pakistan on Kashmir, no agreement has evolved except not to agree and belligerence. It is mandatory not only that ‘democracies do not fight each other’, but also that ‘democracies do not become occupiers or have imperialist colonizing doctrine in their foreign policy’. It is also a statute that they do not oppress any part of their own nation. These covenants accompany the pledges in liberal democracy with strong egalitarian ethos. Freedoms include as foremost liberty of expression that includes right to self-determination.
In comparative politics, people in Scotland wanted a nation of their own. They got the choice to have their own identity and put forth arguments to support their demand. The turn of phrase in genesis and raison d’être of freedom for Kashmir in a random but not preferential order appears in legal and political records all over the world. Citizens here are challenged over the space they stand on. Where is their nation? They are positioned in a Dantesque limbo, with no rights or responsibilities as citizens ruled over by peremptory governance. The politicians contriving democratic power only serve their own ends because they will not change prevailing mindset of subjugation or a relief for the people in compromised situation.
Security of life and living in a home is important. In England, for a minor offence, you can make citizen’s arrest if there is a breach of law and call police forthwith. Freedom seekers in Kashmir entreat in their slogans that bit by bit their home territory is commandeered by foreign countries. Their space to live is shrinking. Like a song-gone silent, the tragedy that further deprivation by an open door policy of integration will inundate the region. There is cause for freedom in law if your home is threatened.
Legally flawed treaties forced upon people with fragile implementation in Kashmir are a culmination of a house of errors with imperfect governance, rolling violence and flagrant breach of the pledges, including erosion of A-370. The linchpin of plebiscite in this relationship never came about and remains like a mirage lurking in the horizon. Political movements for freedom are validated in International law as groups distinguishable like those living in Kashmir, suffering substantial and invidious rights violations. As required in law, they must have exhausted all meaningful and peaceful alternatives to attain right to freedom or self-determination. People make a democracy to work. In Kashmir, democracy turns on its head when coercion is used to look like normal democratic process. In a free state, distributive justice and rights of a common person are safeguarded and no one is disempowered. Democratic process does not work in today’s panic-stricken Kashmir.
Freedom seekers want unification of parts of J&K dismembered from their polity in 1947 and subsequently ceded territories to China in the North. They will find support in Uti –possidetis -juris principle of International Law that ‘J&K within its inherited borders is recognized as free administrative unit when it was decolonized’ and armed incursions are effectively illegal decreed in Article -1 (1) of UN Charter to which all members are vowed to follow. Reversing invasions from Pakistan, India and China will restore historical title and an end to calls for freedom. Moreover, invasions unqualified in legal terms are aggression in law.
Freedom has legitimacy as a direct means to compensate people who suffer human rights abuse and loss of dignity. It does not merely underscore inner moral worth of a true democracy but the new political ethos promulgated by Indian government. Economic rights in Kashmir will only be possible with people participation and not ruled by sui generis regimes. Laws of freedom ensure effective continued governance. Kashmir as a nation fits in the model of common civil code and organic unity. There is an inherent threat to minority status for a Muslim majority Sate that carries the intrinsic nature of Kashmiriat where Pundits eat meat and Muslims light candles at baraat. In the Sarla Mugdal case (635;1995), the highest court invalidated second marriage saying no community can oppose the introduction of a uniform civil code for all citizens. The court had to withdraw its comment on Muslim Law in another case ‘Ahmadabad Women Action Group V UOI (1997). The recent debate on triple-talaq has gained favor in judiciary because of its implied infringement of human rights law. An interruption in Kashmiriat norms forced upon them will find support for freedom in law. Quebec model of self-government based on minority status in Canada will exemplify the principle and adopted as law in ‘remedial rights theory’ is a striking case law. Kashmir’s claim for freedom has similar grounds in argument.
Every nation has a conscience that has a bearing on conscientious secession. Montenegrins seceded from Serbia on the basis that Slobodan Miloswitch perpetrated atrocities against Bosnians. In this way, 19th Century abolitionists rebelled against slavery for humanitarian reasons and refused to join army of the nation in USA. There is a long history of misery suffered by people in Kashmir and it impinges incisively on their conscience. They can claim the right of conscientious future.
Peace is hailed as panacea for effective political influence in good governance and ‘Give Peace a Chance’ doctrine keeps unfurling political flags as peace eludes the subcontinent. This peace is the real peace, peace that gives people all libertarian freedoms. People in Kashmir are broadly ignored and their plight remaining disregarded and that kept their slogan for Freedom alive. India and Pakistan encircled with hostility-ridden hot spots find an uphill undertaking to deliver prosperity and a joyful living to their nations. Mahatma Gandhi said ‘An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind’ if it is only revenge that grips their motives. Great people like Martin Luther King Jr. reiterated in words like “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word’. I only hope India and Pakistan bring as close a solution for Kashmir as needed to give people living here moments of relief from pain and offer them peace. In a manifest appraisal of the drama what transpires is an atmosphere of cold war rhetoric popping up and still pervading political relations between India and Pakistan. Timed with these deliberations are an increased number of LOC violations, cross border mortar fire that kills innocent people on both sides.
India shares the common known hazards of majoritarianism. Apart from the well-known tyranny of majority where the smaller groups are in peril of xenophobia, there is the vulnerability to built-in misplaced nationalist exploits of governance. Kashmir suffers most of all. Liberalist ideology and free market capitalist economy work in a compliant contented society. Both ideologies have worked to detriment in the State of J&K because people are reluctant participants to nationhood. In this wakeup call, people of Kashmir are alerted to the hazards of disunity of purpose and the need for an informed coalition of effort to secure a future.