Published On: Mon, Mar 4th, 2013

Unfortunate, unfair and unacceptable

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Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani

The introduction of Police Bill, 2013 for public debate brings back the disturbing memory when on 24 September 1931 His Highness the Maharaja promulgated Notification No. 19-L of 1988, providing for the “conferment of special powers upon certain…officers for suppression of disorder and restoration and maintenance of law and order”, in the State. This Notification was issued to direct the course of martial law in Kashmir. The most striking feature of the Notification was the “Power to arrest turbulent persons”.

Even at that time the repression could not survive for long. This Notification was withdrawn by a Proclamation of His Highness the Maharaja Bahadur on 5 October 1931, after being in force only for a few days but not before thousands of people were incarcerated without trial.

We have a different Kashmir in 2013. The political and bureaucratic wisdom of India in particular and their support units in Kashmir, need to grow with times and gracefully accept that Kashmiri is no more of the manner once described by Walter Lawrence and Cecil Tyndale-Biscoe around 1889. Man and woman in Kashmir are part of a local, national and global movement, which recognises the equality and dignity of man and woman alike.

Introduction of Police Bill, 2013 as an instrument of control is unfortunate, unfair and unacceptable. The response to it by Hurriyat, civil society and Kashmir Bar is natural but scantly remarkable. The matter should have been addressed moving beyond personal turfs and on a broad based constituency of concern. There does not appear to be any effort to structure a collective opposition by a wider section of the various opinions in the society. Each opinion has decided to call it a day for itself.

Indian Government would be making a fundamental error if it endorses this Bill and causes a discriminating control mechanism against a people which are subject of an agreement (accession) under which Government of India is required to ‘defend territory’, protect ‘life’, ‘property’ and ‘honour’ of these people. At this point in time the State is divided into three administrations and the Government of India seems to have failed to live up to the first stipulation of the agreement, that is, has failed to ‘defend the territory’.

Government of India has to remain conscious of the fact that none of these measures put in place by its local units in Kashmir carry any meaning, because the State has acceded to it on certain conditions and the arrangement is provisional. The accession would only be final when it is ratified and a formal merger of the State into the Union of India takes place. The Autonomy Report prepared by the NC Government also holds that there is no merger.

Under the terms of the accession the Union of India has taken upon the duty to ensure the territorial unity of the State. The State at this point is run under three administrations and the people remain divided. All the three people and the Kashmiri Diaspora remain State Subjects and duly entitled to oppose ant repression or violation of human rights in any part on either side of cease fire line (LOC).

Any consolidation of control, coercive mechanism or any repressive measure taken through Police Bill, 2013 would be a serious violation of the duties taken upon by the union of India through the instrument of accession. It would be a lawful interest of a Kashmiri (State Subject) living under Pakistani administration in AJK and Gilgit and Baltistan to oppose the introduction of Police Bill, 2013 in J & K (part of Jammu and Kashmir territory defined in article 4 of J & K Constitution).

The Government of Pakistan under Act 1974 performing its duties in accordance with UNCIP Resolutions strictly, “to provide for the better Government and administration of Azad Jammu and Kashmir until such time as the status of Jammu and Kashmir is determined…in accordance with the freely expressed will of the people of the State through the democratic method of free and fair plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations as envisaged in the UNCIP Resolutions adopted from time to time”, has a corresponding duty to oppose any repression of a State Subject in any part of Kashmir.

Almost every fibre of Hurriyat and other “pro freedom” politics in Jammu and Kashmir has its reference point in Pakistan. At times it is blamed for having a reference point in Delhi as well. In fact the political and militant leadership has failed to prove that it has its own narrative or the inherent instinct to advocate a Kashmiri narrative as against the Indian and Pakistani narratives.

In theory Hurriyat and other non Hurriyat parties assert that Kashmir is not a bilateral issue but in practice continue to sin on this point. In fact they are instruments in advancing a bilateral narrative on Kashmir. The first example that our leaders are not conducting themselves truthfully and honourably is proven from the fact that they have went along with the Pakistani narrative through all these years.

The off and on button in this regard has been controlled by Pakistan. Pakistan did not wish to raise Kashmir at the UN from 5 November 1965 to 15 September 1996 for about 31 years. It did not bother three generations in Kashmir to consider the neglect. We still blame the UN and the 195 member nations of the UN for our own sins. Kashmiris waited to be handed over a political and a military narrative in 1990. It has caused the death of a generation and the death of self-determination.

It is a tragedy that the people of Kashmir (Valley in particular) were lured to play the 1990 script to challenge India politically and militarily. It has been highlighted by many writers and analysts in Pakistan and independents from outside that the proxy was micro-managed to bleed India and it did not entail a war to ‘liberate’ the people of Kashmir.

Our leaders failed to question the Government of Pakistan when the latter during the June 19-23, 1997 India-Pakistan talks at Islamabad, identified eight outstanding issue of concern for both sides and Kashmir slipped from its core position, to a mere ‘include’ as one of the eight items. Pakistan did not hesitate to disturb the locus standi of the people of Kashmir and UN in the joint statement. Kashmiris took no notice of it.

After the conclusion of June 19-23 India-Pakistan talks at Islamabad, Salman Haider of India on 25 June explained in Delhi that “India wanted talks with Islamabad to focus on Pakistan’s military occupation of part of the region, the cause of two wars between neighbours”. Indian Foreign Secretary further interpreted that New Delhi expected talks over Kashmir to focus on Pakistan’s support for the Kashmiri freedom struggle not on the legitimacy of India’s illegal occupation of Kashmir. He added, “When we talk about Jammu and Kashmir dispute, there is a juridical element in that. We make the point that parts of Jammu and Kashmir are under Pakistani occupation by military force and that is something that we would certainly discuss”.

The argument on Kashmir was later sealed as a bilateral issue in 2006 by President Musharraf in his 4 point formula. In point 2 he said, “curb all militant aspects of the struggle for freedom. This will give comfort to the Kashmiris, who are fed up with the fighting and killing on both sides”.

We may not be living in the Kashmir of the days of Lawrence, Tyndale-Biscoe and Maharaja to be coerced to behave under Police Bill, 2013. But we can’t deny the fact that Kashmiri leadership continues to act a proxy and does not conduct itself truthfully and honourably in the interests of the people of Kashmir. It continues to remain part of a deceit.

Author is London based Secretary General of JKCHR – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.  He could be reached on email dr-nazirgilani@jkchr.com


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