Published On: Mon, Feb 22nd, 2016

India needs soul searching

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

The sequence of events after Afzal Guru event at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), in particular Taliban-type mob justice at Patiala House court complex is more than an alarm. Unless India rushes fast to a collective soul searching, the dark side of its intemperance would continue to shock the world. Afzal Guru event organized at JNU and later at other places is a rightful activity to examine the manner of capital punishment awarded in Delhi to a Kashmiri Muslim.

No bar on a dissent

There is no bar on a dissent and the latest dissent has come from a Dalit Justice C.S. Karnan of the Madras high court.  On Monday 15 February 2016, he had to march out of his chamber situated on the second floor of the court building and reach the gate in quick time to tell the media at the gates that India “is a racist nation” and he was “ashamed to be born here”. He also declared he would “cancel my birth right” and migrate to “a country where there is no racism”.

There are genuine questions about the life of minorities in India and more serious questions about the administration of justice, when it came to Kashmiri Muslims, like Maqbool Bhat, Afzal Guru and Indian Muslim Yaqub Memon. The recent yell has come from a sitting Dalit judge.


India is turning into a ‘racist nation’ and the administration of justice yields to mob pressures and political compulsions. The sedition charges levelled against Kanhaiya Kumar President JNU Students Union (prominent student leader in India), Professor Syed Rahman Gilani a Kashmir Muslim in Delhi, hunt for Umar Khalid a Ph.D. Student (Kashmiri Muslim) at JNU and hunt for many others has shocked all conscientious Indians and other people around the world. The two Kashmiri Muslims Syed Rahman Gilani and Umar Khalid remain fit stereotypes for Indian mob violence and communal rage. They have no escape, when people like Kanhaiya Kumar with a huge following at JNU and countrywide strong political support has been falsely framed for shouting Azadi from Casteism, Brahmanism, Feudalism and Manova. The implication is that Kumar was demanding freedom for the state of Kashmir from the nation of India.

JNU is regarded Hyde Park of India. It encourages freedom of expression and respects dissent. It is reported and evidence is fast emerging that Afzal Guru event organised at JNU was deliberately sabotaged. Kashmiri Muslim student knowing the character of local habitat and the consequences of giving any excuse to Indian authorities, would not have planned anything beyond remembering the merciless death of a fellow Kashmiri Muslim and expressing their displeasure, like many others in India, Kashmir and around the world on the dubious circumstances surrounding Gurus hanging.

Kanhaiya Kumar chanted freedom from poverty, from bloodshed and from inequality – not from India itself. None of his lines can really be interpreted as anti-Indian slogans when viewed in full. However, the authorities have overloaded a different audio on the original video to fabricate evidence against Kanhaiya Kumar in particular and others in general. If authorities in Delhi can go after an Indian Hindu student leader with such an elaborate fabricated evidence, Kashmiri Muslim students studying in Delhi or in any other institution in India would remain like Lilliputians in Gulliver’s hands.

Agent provocateurs

It should serve as an eye opener that Indian authorities and their Kashmiri associates in the Valley would be free to frame any Muslim student or their family members. Kashmiri Muslims in the Valley have yet to learn about the use of agents provocateurs by the police and secret agencies to sabotage meetings, processions, demonstrations and frame the innocent people.

Kashmiri Muslim students studying outside their State in India should remain extra vigilant not to be fooled or trapped during any such event by agent provocateurs inducted in their ranks by the authorities and agencies. It serves these agencies, RSS and BJP to show up Kashmiri Muslims doing things against Indian State or being averse to the people of India. Discussion on the future of Kashmir by Kashmiri students in any institution of India is not sedition. India has committed itself at the UN to refer its provisional accession of Kashmir to a free vote of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, under the supervision of United Nations.

Conscientious Indians

It is a disturbing situation that Indian authorities are not only targeting the Kashmiri Muslim youth in various institutions or businesses in India but the Kashmiri Muslim youth remains a target population in the Valley as well. A generation has been killed in the last twenty five years, an army of youth is disabled, they are unemployed, indexed for security clearance and the majority is nervous and stressed. Conscientious Indians like former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Rajindar Sachar and the “Father of the Civil Liberties movement” in India Justice Vithal Mahadeo Tarkunde of Bombay High Court have advocated in their reports the cause of Human Rights and Right of Self Determination in Kashmir.

Syed Rahman Gilani has been through the difficult situation as a target of Indian authorities and has faced the thrust of fabricated evidence in the past. A thorough gentleman and a scholar may have to repeat it again. He represents rich family traditions of endurance and standing against any kind of injustice. His strong spirit is capable to overwhelm any opposition. This does not mean that we should consign him to the charge of sedition and turn away.

Umar Khalid is being discredited as a ‘communist’. There are posters in Munirka calling for Umar’s death. This has worried his family about vigilante attempts to lynch him. His family has received death threats, in particular sisters have been threatened of assault and acid attacks. People have to be careful and avoid falling in the trap which aims to discredit Umar Khalid as a communist or atheist.

Dark times we’re in

Ex-President of JNU students union Sucheta De has rightly said that freedom from poverty, from bloodshed and from inequality – not from India itself, is a joint struggle for the soul of India and against Hindutva. NDTV India’s Ravish Kumar took the boldest step that Indian journalism has seen in decades. He ran his show with a black screen to signify the “dark times we’re in” and “so that we may listen” instead of getting swayed away by telecasts that finger-point, mock and silence any differing view. Ravish served up the biggest reality check that we have seen in recent times and his telecast will show the callous, insensitive levels Indian society has stooped to – a society that is hell bent on proving itself right on any cost, no matter what the reality may be. He exposed – the hypocrisy of popular media (“TV ko TB ho gaya hai”), the ever-occurring phenomenon of ‘mob justice’, cyber bullying and inciting others to join violence, even outside a court of law. And really, what is this insatiable thirst of labelling someone as a traitor, patriot, national or anti-national?

Rejuvenate the same spirit

Kashmiri Muslims in the Valley have been unsuccessfully fighting the menace of AFSPA and now Government of India has given them a fresh cause to come out on the streets against Food Security and Standards Act (NFSA). It seems Delhi works round the clock to create new situations in the Valley to keep the common Kashmiri on his toes. Our leaders of all shades have a challenge ahead. They need to agree like PDP-BJP on a common minimum agenda to see how the road to Azadi, road to daily process and quality of life, road to honour and dignity and a better tomorrow for our generations is secured. It is time that Kashmiris living in the two administrations at Muzaffarabad, Gilgit and Diaspora, with the help of their friends and world community (UN) rejuvenate the same spirit of Allama Muhammad Iqbal for Kashmir in 1909 and Kashmir Committee of 1931.

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