Imposing a Sense of Helplessness


Writing about the late Afzal Guru’s hanging in Tihar jail on February, 9th  2013, Miss Arundhati Roy has rightly remarked “What sets Guru’s killing apart is that, unlike those tens of thousands who died in prison cells, his life and death were played out in the blinding light of day in which all the institutions of Indian democracy played their part in putting him to death.”( The Guardian, Sunday 10 February 2013). There are some other things as well about this execution, for example, not providing a lawyer to Mr Guru, Supreme Court basing its verdict on circumstantial evidence and the need to satisfy the collective conscience of Indian society, and to cap it all, not giving Mr Guru an opportunity to see his family before being sent to gallows. These things have been discussed widely over the media in recent days, and it is now accepted by almost one and all that India has flouted all the norms of ‘civilized’ hanging in case of Afzal Guru. What is important to note is that India could have successfully implemented the verdict of its Supreme Court without flouting all these norms. Mufti Sayeed, Patron of the Peoples Democratic Party, would have not then called India a ‘banana republic’, neither would have India’s Chief Minister in Kashmir made all the noises. The question is why did India do all this? Those within the system e.g. media, opposition, Kashmir government call it mistakes or procedural errors or something the government had to do because of internal political compulsions—-Congress outflanking BJP when it comes to fight anti-national elements.

I have given it a thought and have come to believe that:

All the apparent lapses are India’s deliberate acts. India wants to send a loud and clear signal to Kashmiri people that when it comes to the issue of freedom in Kashmir, India can be ruthless and can flout any norms with an ‘I don’t care’ attitude. This is aimed at breaking the will of Kashmiri people and making them think that India can do any and everything whereas they(Kashmiri people) can do nothing. This message is sent in a context which has three components:

First, for the past 65 years of occupation, Indian state has miserably failed to crush the freedom sentiment in Kashmir. They have exhausted all options—from sabotage and subversion through proxy regimes in Kashmir to brute military force—-nothing has worked; without 6 hundred thousand army personnel now stationed there and a very huge intelligence machinery India cannot hold on to Kashmir with a truly democratic set-up in place.

Second, India is a favourite in the present global system led by United States and Western Europe, so it can have a free hand in dealing with issues concerning its ‘sovereignty and integrity’.

Third, Pakistan has maintained a criminal silence on Guru’s execution. Not only the government, all the so-called political leaders have kept mum. Even the media has blacked it out.

In that context India has launched an aggressive war of nerves against the people of Kashmir aiming at completely breaking their will and forcing them into submission. This will not be allowed, and if the past five days are any indication, this is not going to happen, no way. Indian leaders together with their proxies in the Occupied Kashmir seem to be realizing they had misread the situation. They killed Guru because they knew at this point in time uprising is not part of the scripted freedom politics in Kashmir executed by Hurriyat and the like. However, they failed to appreciate the genuineness of peoples’ freedom sentiment, and the fact that Guru’s murder will definitely shake the people to the core. It is not absolutely certain what turn the events will take in the coming days, but this is our collective responsibility, a historic one, to make sure that India pays for the crime it has committed. When we say that, it is often taken to mean that there should be a violent retaliation, but it is not just that, what it essentially means is, people of Kashmir must not take it lying down, India will then hang everyone of us. It has everything in place— police, courts, jails and gallows.

Dr Syed M Inayatullah Andrabi
London, United Kingdom

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