Kashmir apparently is slated to get a version of the Guantanomo Bay (GITMO). The infamous prison was established in 2002 and was apparently or ostensibly meant to house extraordinarily dangerous people, interrogate in an optimal setting and to prosecute enemy combatants for war crimes. Now, to repeat, there will what would amount to an ersatz version of prison in Kashmir too. This news was circulated by the Telegraph a few days ago. Apparently, the ostensible premise of the prison is to house foreign militants and shut them out from other prisoners (low key prisoners or even petty criminals) so that they wont be radicalized by the hard core one. Other prosaic reasons might pertain to cost savings.
If the Government proceeds ahead with this plan, then it might suggest and indicate that the Government is really out of touch with the conditions that obtain in Kashmir. Admittedly, hard core militants are committed ideologically and emotionally to their causes and can influence others in different settings and contexts- especially prisons. For example, it is an open secret that Hamas was forged in the crucible of prison and this outfit has become a force to contend with. Even Kashmir of the 80s can be cited as an example. Here too prison served as a formative experience for many militants. However, if the states ostensible rationale for establishing an ersatz GITMO in Kashmir is really true, then the obvious inference that one can draw is that the state is missing the wood for the trees. That is, it is missing the big picture.
The larger picture is the sentiment that has and continues to obtain in Kashmir- the overwhelmingly broad and deep sentiment of separatism and alienation. This has both ideational and material components. Ideationally, there has never been a buy in of the Idea of India by Kashmiris neither has this idea been presented to Kashmiris. The politics of the state especially vis a vis the Centre has been determined by fear, insecurity and paranoia which has entailed the primacy of the security over the political and the ideational. Or, in other words, there has occurred a militarization of security and securitization of the military in Kashmir. The consequences are for all to see.
Overlaying the sentiment of separatism or/and clashing with it is the policy of paranoia and fear. This clash has created a grid lock in the state where the status quo- fragile and brittle- leaves no one better off. More alienation and bitterness ensues. This is a vicious cycle which can only be broken by a sustained and structured dialogue between all the stakeholders to the conflict in and Kashmir- Kashmiris, Pakistan and India. Sincerity and will to overcome odds has to be the bedrock of this dialogue. It is perhaps only when the conflict in and over Kashmir will be resolved to the minimal threshold satisfaction limits of all stakeholders that alienation and the influence of this alienation on the young and even the old will go away. Creating GITMOs in Kashmir would merely add one more layer of truculence and pugnacious antagonism and thereby rigid frozenness to the conflict- an outcome which will redound negatively to all. To conclude, Foucault, the great French philosopher , has asserted that the aim and rationale of modern penal systems is not to reform but to punish. Foucalt also viewed prisons and prison systems as technologies of power. Both- punishment and power- are related if the definition and operationalization of power is too crass or vulgar. A more expansive definition of power lends itself to the prudent use of power which in the context of Kashmir and the conflict thereof would mean not a power based approach to conflict resolution but a more humane and human one. The first step toward this paradigm would be disavowal of a GITMO clone in Kashmir.
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