Who are we?

We need to define ourselves in light of our contemporary history

San’na Firdous
Srinagar, Publish Date: Dec 12 2017 10:10PM | Updated Date: Dec 12 2017 10:10PM
Who are we?File Photo

I have a deluge of emotions, thoughts, and insights inundating inside my head. I feel Kashmir is the only place on earth where human dignity and freedom of thought has no value. I have seen through my experience and studies that Kashmir is a place where a person can be expunged from society and shall be deprived of all rights and all functions in civil, economic and political.

Kashmir is a place of tortures not justice. There are cases of disappearances but no clue of whereabouts. There is violence against Kashmiris and law is silent. There is a trust-deficit among Kashmiris, Kashmiris wouldn't trust the system that governs them. There will be no replacement of the venal system, but, honest efforts can change the whole system where human dignity is respected. 

Prolonged torture has become a transformative experience in the context of trust to trust-deficit that perpetuated from last three decades. It creates a suspicion image of a Kashmiris who thereby are incapable substantially to trust other natives. It seems torture in this part of the land is legitimized by New Delhi. Rights are confined to the papers/books only the application part of those law/rights is missing when it comes to Kashmir. Alan Dershowitz suggests that torture in the 'ticking clock' situation is not directed at the prisoner's rights as an accused person (the information obtained will not be used in the trial against him, and the torture itself would not formally count as punishment), the underlying premise is even more disturbing, implying as it does that one should be allowed to torture people, not as part of a deserved punishment, but simply because they know something. Why not go further still and legalise the torture of prisoners of war who may have information, which could save the lives of hundreds of our soldiers? It is absolutely crucial that one does not elevate this desperate choice into a universal principle: given the unavoidable and brutal urgency of the moment, one should simply do it. Only in this way, in the very prohibition against elevating what we have done into a universal principle, do we retain a sense of guilt, an awareness of the inadmissibility of what we have done. Admitting torture as a topic of debate changes the entire field, while outright advocacy remains merely idiosyncratic. The idea that, once we let the genie out of the bottle, torture can be kept within 'reasonable' bounds, is the worst liberal illusion, if only because the 'ticking clock' example is deceptive: in the vast majority of cases torture is done for quite different reasons (to punish an enemy or to break him down psychologically, to terrorise a population etc). Any consistent ethical stance has to reject such pragmatic-utilitarian reasoning.

Emptying the entire cartridge of pellet upon a youth and putting thousands behind the bars is the worst kind of democracy in the world, where people are not allowed to exercise their ‘right to life.’ The violence is legitimized without placing the criminals on trial. ‘The law of this oscillation [between the violence that posits law and the violence that preserves it] rests on the fact that all law-preserving violence, in its duration, indirectly weakens the lawmaking violence represented by it, through the suppression of hostile counter violence This lasts until either new forces or those earlier suppressed triumph over the violence that had posited law until now and thus found a new law destined to a new decay. In the interruption of this cycle, which is maintained by mythical forms of law, in the deposition of law and all the forces on which it depends (as they depend on it) and, therefore, finally in the deposition of State power, a new historical epoch is founded.’ ("Zur Kritik der Gewalt," p. 202)

In Kashmir, it is always a notion that after killing(s) inquiry committee is set up to divert the attention of masses so that anger is subsided and the normal situation is back. There are also at the same time, unfortunately, the leadership crises in Kashmir. Kashmir has not produced in the contemporary era any leader except Syed Ali Shah Geelani who is on his stance of self-determination, but has shortcomings too. He dreams to merge with Kashmir with Pakistan and plunge it in to the hell of crises. 

The leader like Sheikh ul Alam is a need of an hour. Who can bring various communities together in Kashmir? Divisions and factions in a small separatist organization tells us how disorganized the organization is, and how poorly they are helping Kashmir problem to be solved as per the aspirations of the people of J&K. The three icons of separatist, Mirwaiz, Yasin Malik and Geelani talk impractical at various occasions. They cannot ask people to come forward and pick up stones and arms and get killed. They should come to the table and negotiate through talk. 

When you discuss Kashmir in America, you find people laughing at the statements of separatists. They need to find common areas of agreement on a common ideology. If the ideology is to seek self-determination, the steps should be devised in such a way so that this dream of self-determination is achieved in an atmosphere of trust. For that, we all Kashmir should know who we are? And where we have to go? 

They are not taking in confidence the public which is suffering due to their irrelevant calls of Hartal. In which economic zone hartals are called to make a community to suffer and surrender before the oppressor. Aren't they part of the big game?


(Sanna Firdous is Union College student in New York.)