Justice is the moving spirit behind the modern democratic institutions. The notion of justice subsumes the fundamentals of fairness, equality, freedom and so on. The longest written constitution of world reflects this fundamental of justice in all its manifestations and interpretations. The fundamental principles of right to equality, liberty, equality before, and equal protection of law, freedom of expression essentially reflect the principle of justice.
In the last more than sixty years, the people of Jammu and Kashmir never tasted the experience of justice de jure that should have been extended to it. The emotional weight, statements like “our people” made in the parliament many a times in the past have, in the absence of anything substantial on the ground, rarely consoled the bruised souls of the valley.
The summer unrest which consumed the lives of over 110 Kashmiri youth and put to siege millions of lives for number of days is reverberating in the collective psyche of the people and certainly it will take much more time for it to fade away. With the winter nearing its end, a generally shared pessimism of another phase of unrest is looming large, and as per media reports the state has girded its loins to forestall any such move. However, questions are being asked by the saner voices about the methodology employed by the law enforcement agencies, to prevent the repeat of summer 2011.
It seems the government and its most reliable organ, the police, is unable to learn from its past mistakes, given the heavy handed measures, the latter has initiated. The sweeping arrests made in the past few months across the valley are indicative of what social scientist call ‘fixed mindset’ of the state law enforcement agencies developed over the years. Beyond the mode of creating fear among people in general, no other possibilities based on compassion, human dignity have been explored.
While the justice is still elusive for the victims of the last summer, the government has failed to draw a reconciliatory road map, not only to compensate for the losses, but also to enthuse confidence among the people, lost in the wake of massive violence.
The government should reason well before harping on the path of repression. As seen in the past, such measures have the potential to breed violence that in turn can bring people onto the streets. Instead, an approach based on the ideals of justice, fairness, tolerance to dissent and freedom of expression should be adopted in any move to maintain peace and calm in the valley.