Respect Institutions

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It has become a fashion in J&K to ensure that the state has every institution that is conceived anywhere. The last great reference was the introduction of the Right to Information law. J&K was the first state that managed passage of the law and, then, it was one of the best legislation on this front. What happened to the law, its implementation and the format, is now an issue that history will decide.

Take the case of the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC). While it was set up as part of the decision taken at the national level of having human rights commissions, in J&K it was vital because of the scale of violations. While its constitution has fetched Kashmir one more shoulder on which it rests and cries, the larger reality is that it has become just an institution to help people mourn and not get justice.

In its latest report tabled in the state legislative assembly detailing its activities in 2011-12, the SHRC offered a lot of statistics. It has instituted 462 cases and disposed 354 cases related to disappearance, rape, land disputes, harassment, murder and ex-gratia relief. Most of the cases (298) were instituted in Kashmir, unlike Jammu that registered only 160 complaints. But what is striking is that the report has asserted that its recommendations are not being taken very seriously. It has referred to a number of cases in which there has been no encouraging response from the government.

The Commission, as all other commissions, has recommendatory status and lacks teeth to bite. That is just part of the problem. If that is the case, why should people go to SHRC and why should the institution exist?

The lackadaisical attitude of the state towards the SHRC is clearly explained by the fact that it is headless for a long time now. There has not been any effort to help this institution have a strong base.

A society is generally known by the institutions it creates. That is the fundamental difference that fetches certain nations a better ranking as compared to others. India, for instance, has very strong institutions as compared to Pakistan which is run by army and, sometimes, even by mobs. US and UK are considered to have the strongest institutions among all countries. Weakening of institutions essentially leads to the rotting of the concept of accountability and democracy. That is what is exactly being permitted in J&K as a special case.

It is not on human rights alone. J&K’s battle against corruption, especially the political corruption, is worst. It has many institutions to fight the menace but at the end of the day, all these mechanisms have their strings being pulled by the same lot what should have been on the other side of the system. There are many mighty people sitting at the policy making level despite having serious cases of omissions and commissions against them.

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