Right to Life

On the 10th of every December, world takes a break to ponder over the state of human rights in conflict torn places across the globe. The focus is to highlight human rights violations in places like Kashmir where conflict has made people’s lives miserable. In Kashmir the day is marked with protests against the impunity that men-in-uniform have enjoyed against the civilians in last 25 years of conflict. Every year, men, women and children holding placards come to Srinagar from different parts of valley to remember their loved ones who have become collateral in fight against India’s authority in Kashmir. This year too, a number of protests took place at different locations in Kashmir, trying to get some attention from international media to human rights violation done here mostly by state. But the heavy presence of police around the venues where these protests took place reinforces the fact that even peaceful gatherings are under state scanner. What happened in Kashmir in last 25 years cannot be erased from public memory unless perpetrators of such human rights violations are punished. But instead of punishing the guilty, who are unfortunately patronized by the state, the idea of reconciliation with the victims has no meaning at all. In any society that desires to forget its past and move on, examples of exemplary punishment to guilty is the first step towards that new path.

No state, no-matter how power it is, can force entire population to forget and forgive the guilty. But instead of acknowledging its mistakes state once again took refuge in numbers which are often confusing and hold no meaning for victims. With thousand of youth still missing for as many as two decades and their loved ones seeking their whereabouts putting everything at risk, the idea of reconciliation seems absurd.

Ironically, GOC Northern Command, Lt General Sanjiv Chachra, came out with numbers to feed the press with counter claims that army has punished 124 personnels in last 20 years who were found guilty of human rights violations in trouble torn Kashmir.

The statement has angered human rights activists who have worked tirelessly in challenging situations to unearth the truth. Chachra proudly said that Government of India has received 1524 allegations of human rights violations against army in last 20 years and out of which a mere 42 were found true. Rest were all fake!

Given the fact that forces in Kashmir are shielded by special laws like AFSPA, complaining against them is considered a futile exercise. If there would have been a near clean slate, as claimed by Sanjiv Chachra, then places like Kunan and Poshpora, Dardpora, Shopian, Gool, Bijbehara would have been just beautiful places with no bitter memories attached to their names. More than the crime it is the denial of crime that hurts a victim most. After all right to life is not exclusive to any particular ideology only.

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