Yay!!! I just found out that Swami Agnivesh led a team of human rights activists to Kashmir and has stated in no uncertain terms:
We are concerned over the obtaining situation in the valley for the past nearly three months. We are lodging our protest against the oppressive measures against the innocent people.
My heart has been breaking for the Kashmiris for so many days as I waited for someone to get into being humane. The media reports the plight, but takes no stand. The government is busy pointing fingers. The PM is urging the use of non-lethal weapons. The cops are going right ahead with their brutal agenda. I didn’t know how much I needed to hear this line. Someone telling the government to stop screwing around saving face and get on with fixing what we all know is wrong.
I have never felt more impotent. Everyone knows its utterly wrong, but all kinds of stupid ploys are being made. I can only imagine the anguish of being Kashmiri. So much for being India’s paradise. The only thing I imagine might be worse is being a Kashmiri policeman because you need the job.
Swami Agnivesh’s recommendation is an incredible service he has done to this country by telling the government directly. The biggest thing was that for once the Kashmiris had someone genuinely listening to them and willing to bat for them with the government. Omar Abdullah, are you reading this? You may want to consider donating your salary according to his recommendation. Not only did he do your job, he saved your skin.
It is crucial that the government not trivialize this by opposing them. For example, J&K being disputed is evident to everyone. Denying it for so many years in itself was stupid. Kashmir is horrifyingly militarized. Even if demilitarization is not entirely possible, surely we can do with far fewer soldiers there. Omar was happy to release the youth before Eid anyway. Political prisoners, I don’t know about, but I guess unless they are criminal, illegal or dangerous to India, perhaps its time to accept that Kashmiris have their own objectives in politics, like all other politicians. Of course, if any are militant and have engaged in terrorism, its a different matter.
Revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act is something that will make fighting terrorists more difficult, but unfortunately, our police have demonstrated amply that they cannot be trusted with such autonomy. Killing or arrests of unarmed civilians shouldn’t be done anyway unless they are breaking the law in some way. Punishing those responsible for killing people for protesting shouldn’t even have been needed to be demanded. Its sad that it takes demanding. I have great hopes that this will actually lead such reforms for the entire country.
I would have begun with asking every responsible person in the government publicly apologizing to their ‘claimed’ citizens for their criminal negligence before I even began listening to what they wanted to say.
The Army has set up a helpline for assistance with human rights violations which indicates a possibility that they may be serious about changing:
Army has established human rights cells and launched a helpline at battalion and unit levels in Doda district district where people can call regarding human rights violations,” a defence spokesman said today. A unit of Rashtriya Rifles (RR) in Gundna belt of Doda has established a SAATHI helpline, where people can call regarding violations of human rights, RTI related issues, guidance regarding education and scholarship schemes, pensionary and old age related government schemes, medical benefits to people, career counselling for youth and guidance for recruitment in armed forces, para-military and police. At the battalion level, a “Khuda Ke Bande Human Rights cell” was setup at Armora camp in Doda, he said. The Army also organised a camp on human rights related issues at Gunda village, which received a tremendous response both from people and civil administration, the spokesman said, adding the army was committed to zero tolerance to any rights violations.
India is finally shining. Will the politicians catch up?