The Object of Rights

Arif Ayaz Parrey

It is not enough to have a bill of rights. If there is a group or an identity which foots it, there must also always be others which pay it. Control is achieved when those footing the bill of rights convince others that they will get the crumbs if they assist in getting the bill paid. Since politics is not like mathematics, this is not an equal arrangement. Those footing the bill and those paying it do not get equal returns for equal labour. Since politics is so much like mathematics, this is not an equitable arrangement. The limits for those paying the bill are set between getting the crumbs and zero. Mercifully, the choices are clear for both the parties. Those footing the bill of rights have the choice to not choose. Those paying for it can either get some rights if they agree not to demand all others or get nothing if they demand everything. In its own lifeless way, it is a perfect arrangement.

The dogs of Kashmir have understood the brass tacks of this perfect arrangement perfectly. It took them awhile. In the beginning, their proud noses came in the way and they were so startled by the odours of alien soldiers that they could not help but yelp. They saw the terrified natives running helter-skelter at the sight of soldiers. They expressed solidarity, albeit in their own dry, academic way. The soldiers created news in return. (News, as we know, is not when dog bites man, it is when man bites dog.) The dogs barked and barked, pointing to the oppression. It was a confirmation of the injustice that was their lives. However, the news was suppressed, transformed, given a positive spin. That was enough for the dogs. They discontinued the practice of barking on strangers. They understood that it only made them appear like fools and they were dogs, not fools. But they continued to nurture hatred and anger against the soldiers. Then they saw some natives cowering and stooping in front of the soldiers and kissing their feet. They were shocked. They were disheartened. They understood that there is no justice in the world, just bones to chew and crumbs to stoop over. They decided to suck up to the soldiers too, and do a better job of it than other natives.

This pleased the soldiers and they started to feed the dogs their crumbs. The dogs waged their tails and stayed closed. But soon the frolicking and licking was not enough. It is in the nature of dogs to bark. The soldiers were getting bored; it was in their interest that they bark. It was therefore dogmatic that the dogs bark on those men and women whom crumbs can’t satisfy and who want everything.

Since 2008, matters have become as crystal-clear as the arrangement on the bill of rights. Those who refuse to pay the bill are killed on the streets, beaten in detention centres and tortured in special cells. As their stones have souls so their bodies are treated like stones. Conscience litters the roads. The dogs do not find it edible. By deductive analysis –at which they are quite good – the dogs conclude that since it is not edible, conscience must be a nuisance. They declare that it should never be allowed into the streets. People should keep such garbage at home. It breeds bugs like hope and resistance. It is very dangerous. But when those who are bitten by the bugs of hope and resistance pay no heed to their incessant barking, the killer instincts in the dogs are activated. They wait for such people, ambush them, bark at them, bite them and terrorise them in seclusion and at nightfall. The soldiers are reminded of themselves.

When the locals retaliate against the dogs or attempt to go on a drive against them they are forcibly stopped by the soldiers. The argument which accompanies the soldiers’ bullets at such times is irrefutable: “Kisi bae zubaan janwar ko koi kaise maar sakta hai.” How can anyone kill a voiceless animal? We discover that the original sin of those who have to pay the bill of rights is not being an animal; it is being an animal with a voice.

(Opinion expressed by the author are his own and don’t reflect the policy of Kashmir Life )

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