Handwara: A Lesson in Tyranny


On April 12, 2016, a 16-year-old girl was either molested or threatened with molestation in the Kashmir town of Handwara by a so-far unidentified Indian soldier when she was using washroom.  Her screams from within could be heard in the surrounding community, and it is believed that an Indian soldier was seen emerging from the washroom about the same time. When the people of the locality learned about the incident, they flooded the streets, protesting against the incident. In response, the army fired at them from a bunker in the vicinity and three people were shot, who later succumbed to their injuries.
It is immediately incumbent upon the authorities to permit a fair and impartial investigation by an outside source.  If the Army is concerned about promoting good relations with Kashmiri communities, then only truth will serve that purpose.  It is in the best interests of everyone concerned that open and freely given testimony be permitted in any case where there are disputed facts or allegations.
Furthermore, however culpable the Army may be, whether in molesting the girl, or in making the identity of a minor known, draconian laws like the AFSPA and others have given total impunity to the Indian army and they are not accountable to anybody. These laws need to be repealed. Such laws make sense only when there is an open state of war existing between two countries. 
By instituting such laws, India can only be seen as a foreign occupier and actually promotes a state of war with Kashmiris, which it has done for 69 years.  It is undeniably occupation when the rules of civil society are imposed from outside, freedom of expression is suppressed, and international laws, guidelines and resolutions are preempted.  It is occupation and state terrorism when justice is meted out spontaneously, on the spot, through the barrel of a gun. 
Quite the contrary, the government of India claims sovereignty over Kashmir as being an integral part of its territory while simultaneously alleging that it is the world’s largest democracy.  Democracy implies the rule of law, not the rule of military might, which has towering bunkers scattered all over a community, from which the military is permitted at will to take pot shots at anyone in sight. Democracy implies legal process to sort out justice in disputes, not the use of terror to exploit an unarmed population.  
Why should the United Nations, United States and world powers remain silent when the Indian army is involved in crimes against humanity? Don’t they know that their silence unwittingly has given a sense of total impunity to the Indian army?
Isn’t the demand of the people of Kashmir legitimate and recognized by the United Nations and international community?
Why should the world powers prefer trade and commerce to moral values and ethical principles?
Isn’t it a bad precedence to prefer trade to morality?
What is to be made of the tall slogans of President Obama when he said, “We should probably try to facilitate a better understanding between Pakistan and India and try to resolve the Kashmir crisis” (October 30, 2008)?  He still has 250 days to at least convey to both India and Pakistan the importance of the need to resolve the issue of Kashmir, which according to President Obama, is “in the interest of the two countries, region and the United States.”
Civil society can only be civil when those in power give more than lip service to the moral tenets which uphold it.


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