By Mehboob Makhdoomi
Suppression of dissent is when the powerful attempts to censor, persecute or oppress the other party instead of engagement and constructive responsiveness in order to accommodate the other party’s perspectives. When dissent is perceived as a threat, morally weak powers take action to prevent continuing dissent or penalize dissidents.
John F Kennedy once said, “Without debate, without criticism no administration and no country can succeed and no republic can survive.”
More than economic offerings, Kashmiris need a political package, which would disentangle the political gridlock, they are caught up in. We all know that the people of Kashmir have vital disagreements with New-Delhi on certain fundamental issues, corollary of which is their dissent.
Such a dissent has been expressed violently as well as non-violently, in the human history. While it’s understandable for the government to choke violent opposition; it’s deleterious for a democracy to impede unarmed civilians from protests or rallies. The brazenness with which the State government cracked down on those who had even sought permission from the concerned authorities to hold a parallel rally at the TRC, smacks of extreme insecurity and weakness of the Government.
Holding a public rally is not unconstitutional by any means. The argument that assembly of people can be a threat to peace is flimsy to say the least; since by that logic no government can ever allow any protest.
With all courtesy, I would like to inform Mr. Modi that hundreds of activists have been jailed; their leaders kept in solitary confinement and social media cracked down upon and even an elected MLA Er Rashid lodged in a Police station on Wednesday this week, to give him an impression that all is hunky dory in Kashmir. If the same MLA is allowed in the State assembly, why is he a threat in PM’s rally?
If the dissent is going to be swept under the carpet, how can it ever be addressed? There must be a difference between an Event management company & the Government. While the former is concerned only about a specific hassle-free event, by any means; the latter ought to be far-sighted and in complete know of the consequences of suppression of dissent.
There is an upthrow in the number of local militants and the encounters we see, which is indicative of the fact that the youth has lost hope in democratic channels. Instead of addressing the problem, it is further being exacerbated by quietening their peaceful ways of expressing themselves, which I find extremely dangerous and is a parochial approach.
Well before Modi announced another economic package, Mufti Sayeed termed his visit as ‘the turning point in the J-K’s history’. And, I’m sure he knows that flood relief packages do not make history; bold political initiatives do.
Quoting Hindustan Times, Mufti Sayeed has said that he met Modi a couple of times and realized that he genuinely wants to win the hearts and minds of people of the state. Well, if that is true, let him announce a genuine roadmap to address Kashmir’s political question, with the Kashmiri leadership and Pakistan on board.
Taking sensitive & controversial issues head on is the quality of a Statesman, while ignoring them is an easiest way to be in one’s comfort zone. I would like to end with a quote from Voltaire’s book – The Age of Louis XIV: “It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.”