Parameters of Innocence

By Khalid Fayaz

Khalid Fayaz
Khalid Fayaz

By In 1997, in our village in Islamabad, a Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) commander was martyred by BSF. A year later, the same commander’s cousin was martyred by HM for hugging his childhood friend-turned-Ikhwani near Achabal Adda. The incident remained shrouded until the slain man’s sister saw her HM commander cousin in the dream.

She said that he revealed to her that her brother was killed by his successors. After some days, a HM commander came, apologized and said that the accused would be brought to justice. The mourning family said nothing. The gravestone of both the cousins reads: “Shaheed”.

As the women were talking in the tent about the two killings, one of them said, “Balai Tsunhus, Hu (HM Commander) oas droamtui ammi kheatre.” (Forget get, he had left home for meeting the same end.)

This instigated a verbal but alluding fight between the families of slain HM commander and that of woman’s. The questions asked by the HM commander’s family were quite basic, “How in the world was our son/brother not innocent?” “Why did you say, ‘BalaiTsunhus’ to our son?” The woman felt ashamed and apologized the day after.

But since then, I am still facing this dilemma. She might have understood her mistake, but I couldn’t ideate this imbroglio.

Couple of weeks ago, three policemen were killed by HM outfit in Srinagar, followed by the killing of two alleged Jaish-e-Muhammad militants later that evening.

Most of the people’s moral values and political statuses contradicted over the killings. They started terming the cop killings as “cold-blooded murder” since the slain weren’t carrying weapons. Their argument was rebels are only killing fellow Kashmiris. With the result, two Jaish rebels were stripped off of the general sympathy. Questions are same. Who are innocent? And why has the assumption, “Balai Tsunhus” remained unquestioned?

People also argued that rebels were killing Kashmiris in the war for freedom. Where is their morality when Indian army man dies? Is that okay? Death to anyone, when we talk on ethical level, is not a moment to rejoice. Why does everyone want the end of war and only few want the destruction of their enemies? Perhaps majority knows the consequences of war or perhaps people don’t want death by war. Who wants then? Obviously, our structures and apparatuses—be it religious, political, topographical, cultural, economic, et al.

Everyone who does any job does it either by choice or by compulsion. Former ones live to maintain their standard while the latter ones live for the survival. The consumption pattern is unequally different. But there are others who rebel against the structures. Their economy is entirely different. Conflict economies, especially the rebellions, are funded with extortion money or taking hold of the country’s exports but in Kashmir nothing like that happened. They live on subsistence level of resources and they die so as well.

Three slain policemen would have worn their uniforms, armour of the antique, as they would do every working day. Since we know that people make not only rational choices but rational calculations as well, they have had made the choice of killing or dying the day they got the copy of the order of the job in their hands. It is the nature of their job that they would be either fortunate to kill or unfortunate to die at any encounter. I will not go here with the history of police and its transformation since 1990s. At every level, they had a choice to quit.

Proving arguments wrong doesn’t make us able to prove who is innocent or who isn’t? But, it conveys that being selective in our approach to justice is problematic.

Rebels who die every day for the cause are generally put into the category of “Balai Tsunhus”. However, their funerals attract larger crowds and their martyrdom is revered forever.

In that week, eleven people got killed in Kashmir, out of whom seven were alleged rebels, three policemen and one army trooper. Rebels aren’t generally seen with much money. Their children or next to kin haven’t built castles out of their earnings either. The situation, however, is different for the government-uniformed men.

The author has completed his Masters in economics.


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