Insaniyat

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Humanity is such a vast idea that Kashmir feels quite an outsider in the Insaniyat that is preached and in practice, Bilal Handoo details

Irfan's mother and two sisters in the frame. (Photo: Bilal Bahadur/KL)

Mother and two sisters of slain Irfan of Fateh Kadal mourning over his death. (Photo: Bilal Bahadur/KL)

On close heels of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s ‘tall talk’ of Insaaniyat, Jamhooriyat and Kashmiriyat in Srinagar on April 18, 2003, one major Chauhan of 41 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) along with J&K police’s SOG raided residence of 25-year-old daily-wager Mohammad Ashraf Malik of Kupwara’s Malik Mohalla. He was directed to present himself before them at Town Hall following day. Malik did turn out at Town Hall without knowing that four other men had also been summoned. Later, the four men returned home but not Malik.

For Kupwara Maliks, Vajpayee’s ‘three-principle pitch’ is yet to qualify as Insaniyat.

Thirteen years later, as NDA is once again ruling Delhi with Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, Vajpayee’s Insaniyat glib is either being played from ramparts of Red Fort or in emergency meetings in Srinagar. By the time both Modi and his Home Minister Rajnath Singh invoked Insaniyat, Kashmir had suffered from proverbial thousand cuts. Within three days after Burhan Wani’s killing, Mehbooba government stacked up thirty odd bodies in valley. By 50th day of defiance in valley, 70 persons were lowered in graves, hundreds blinded and above 6000 wounded.

“While Army General is talking sense,” says an attendant observer of Kashmir events, “politicians indulge in delusional rants used to be an inherently Pakistani polity scene which has been replicated in Kashmir by Delhi’s efforts.”

Already unprecedented use of force on unarmed dissenters has “disgraced” Delhi. Pellets were fired inside kitchens, drawing rooms and upon mourning congregations. In some areas, forces stormed in residences and fired upon civilians. Kashmir has a huge group that will be remembered as ‘blinded by BJP-PDP government’. Many bullet/pellet hit youth were frequently seen being whacked out of ambulances and nearly lynched to death.

Even the “restraint” was proverbial.

As a sport, the paramilitary men were caught on cameras: smashing windowpanes, breaking into residences. Even operation theatres were gassed and inmates roughed up. But perhaps the defining moment of the Insaniyat was seen in Qazigund where a mother was shot dead in presence of her wounded toddler. “Barbaric and inhuman methods are being used to curb the ongoing peaceful movement,” said lawyer Zahid Ali, PRO Jama’at-e-Islami. “Indian forces are bent upon terrorizing people by raiding different areas during the night hours.”

In a night raid at Khonmoh, a 30-yearold lecturer Shabir Mongoo was beaten by army and taken along with many others. His body was handed over to a private vehicle for taking him to hospital as police refused to take its possession. The slain is survived by a son and wife. Mongoo’s killing led to the cartoon that went viral. It showed the blinded students offering funeral prayers to the teacher as the Education Minister was asking them to attend the school!

These rising abuses made United Nations Human Rights Council express desire to visit and take stock of Kashmir situation. But Delhi barred it from fiddling with its “internal matter”. Instead it rushed more force to ‘enforce calm’. Some of these ‘rush hour’ troopers are apparently under an impression that they have been sent to valley to help conduct polls!

Kashmiris-martyred

This is the situation that remained unchanged for a very long time.

In his seminal book, Kashmir: Happy Valley, Valley of Death, William W Baker writes about nineties. He narrates his encounter with twenty-year-old Muhammad Rafiq Mir of Khomoh Baramulla detained by forces on January 1, 1991.

“We were taken to a place which looked like a hospital because some people were in green uniforms and masks and others in military uniforms,” Baker quotes Mir in his report. “I was put on a table, blood was taken out from my arm. A wire was put from my groin and something was view on a screen. During this process, I felt heat in my body. After that, all I know is that I was feeling pain. One doctor told me that my left kidney had been removed.”

The next day, Baker writes, the young man along with others who had undergone surgery were thrown out by army.

“While in the Valley of Kashmir I learned of several other citizens who had likewise had healthy organs removed, although most of the others were found dead with kidneys, livers and other organs missing,” Baker writes. “I have the sworn testimony of Younis Khan of the Ganderbal District where I was staying, which testifies that his brother was taken off a bus along with twelve others by Border Security Forces. One month later his body was found and taken to the Institute of Medical Science whereupon the doctors determined that his brother, twenty-nine year old Bashir Khan, died of physical torture and one kidney was missing from the body.”

As incredible as this may seen, when Baker was back in United States, he could join the dots between Kashmir’s missing organs and India’s flourishing trade. “There have been a number of special documentary programs on American television, especially on the Discovery channel, December 11, 1993,” he writes, “which exposed the huge black market in India for human organs!”

Then, in Kashmir prisons, unthinkable was happening. One former rebel who rose to become militant commander during nineties recalls the “barbaric” torture he faced in BSF custody. “I still remember it,” said Mushtaq, an ex-rebel, now walking on crutches, “it was early March 1992, when I was lodged in some unknown place reeked of alcohol, urine and blood. Forces rolled a log with nails over my body. I screamed, cried, begged them to stop, but they wouldn’t stop.” The rolling log peeled off his skin, tore his muscles and bared his bones naked. “The torture caused gangrene to my limbs, which were later surgically cut.”

The Bugam rally on August 27, 2016.

The Bugam rally on August 27, 2016.

Such a treatment aided by AFSPA “dehumanised” the society to an extent where they tend to believe in ‘new normal’. When a gunman prowled with a blood-oozing skull of a renegade in busy Batamaloo streets years ago, not many made an exception of it. Perhaps Kashmiris had seen enough of bloodletting massively triggered under the impunity of the “black law”. There are instances where dead bodies were sent home in bits and pieces. Some were charred. Others were disfigured. And thousands were never shown the light of the day.

A ‘grave document’ prepared by the International Peoples’ Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir and APDP has identified more than 900 individuals, including 150 officers of major rank whom it blames for a range of human rights abuses in Kashmir between 1990 and 2014. The report documents the extrajudicial killings of 1,080 people and enforced disappearances of 172 people in detail as well as further cases of torture and sexual violence.

But now when Modi is terming Insaniyat as one of the “pillars of development of Kashmir”, he brushed aside Vajpayee’s idea of Kashmir resolution. His finance minister, Arun Jaitley, however tried explaining Insaniyat in Dec 2014: “Insaniyat doesn’t say that the Army kills an innocent…”

Perhaps that’s why no Insaniyat can console the Maliks of Kupwara who were handed over only one kilogram of their blasted son’s flesh, a month after Vajpayee pitch-forked his triple talisman in Kashmir capital.

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