The story of ‘unacknowledged’ human tragedy
“Killings have become kosher in Kashmir. A bullet pumped into the body of a Kashmiri youth becomes a legal act when viewed through the lens of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 or other such laws.”
Has not the time arrived to view the situation in the Indian-held Kashmir from a different perspective? The insurgency, since the call for Azadi (independence), was first made in the valley after the rigged elections of 1987, has drowned almost two generations into the agony of separation and destitute. The pain emanating from the atrocities meted out both by the Indian government and the militant crossing over into the valley is more a saga of humanitarian crisis than political, as we had been trained to view.
Death is a far more manageable grief then disappearance. Uncertainty kills, and it kills more painfully when one is a woman whose shelf life depends on her age and fertility. For every disappearing man in Kashmir, if he is married and has children, it means one half-widow and as many or more half-orphanages. The half-widow nomenclature has been coined for those women whose husbands had disappeared all of a sudden. These men were not necessarily militants. Most of them were on their job or walking back to their homes from work or enjoying an evening with their families at home when the security forces took them out and left. Where? Nobody could know.
Forced by cultural and legal bindings, these women would often resign to their fate. Unimportant, and caught between the marriage and inheritance laws of the Islamic Jurisprudence, many have seen their hair grow gray and faces wrinkled with hope still ignited to see their husbands walk through the gates of their battered homes.
The question is, what is more important: territories or human lives?
Whose problem is Kashmir? Is it the integral part of India or is it the jugular line of Pakistan? Does the handler of the Mujahedeen know the miseries of the ordinary folks living in the valley whose lives hav been paralysed by the nexus of soldiers and informers? The poverty and underdevelopment that shrouds Kashmir seems to be nobody’s business. All the conferences, seminars, discussion or estrangements between Pakistan and India over Kashmir are about the sixty kilometer Line of Control that both the nations want to own or remove in each other’s favour. In these political shows, no one talks about half-widows. About the parents who have lost young sons for no other reason than being somewhere at the wrong time with the wrong people. About the disturbing fact: that in the case of earthquakes and floods, Kashmiris still die – in spite of all the army and helicopters – because of hunger and harsh weather. One shrinks even to spell it out. How would the sufferers have been bearing it, needs a heart dispassionate of politics to understand?
“The half-widow nomenclature has been coined for those women whose husbands had disappeared all of a sudden. These men were not necessarily militants. Most of them were on their job or walking back to their homes from work or enjoying an evening with their families at home when the security forces took them out and left. Where? Nobody could know.”
Militancy might have been mowed down, but alienation remains and seethes, rearing its head whenever there is an occasion for it. The unfolding of incidents in Jawaharlal Nehru University Delhi and the National Institute of Technology in Srinagar are a few examples of alienation. Instead of handling the situation politically, it was coerced into silence, by the Indian government.
The inhabitants of Kashmir, however, are learning to find solutions to domestic issues irrespective of government’s intervention.
Kashmir’s biggest seminary Darul Uloom Rahimiya has of late worked on passing an edict to legalise the acceptance of medical insurance.
In 2013, a group of six Islamic Scholars from various schools of thought issued a decree that allowed women whose husbands had gone missing for more than four years to remarry.
This decision needs further deliberations, though. As quoted by the Indian Express in March 2014, many Muslim Scholars in India want this decision revised. Mujahid Shabir Falahi, the representative of the Jamat-e-Islami, said that if a woman was of marriage age and her husband had not left her much of wealth to sustain a living, she should remarry immediately. Another religious scholar, Showkat Ahmad Keng of the Anjuman Himayat-ul-Islam wanted this period brought down to one year.
Another issue that has still not been resolved and has hindered women to avail the remarriage verdict is the transfer of inheritance from the grandparents to their grandchildren. The Sharia, (Islamic Jurisprudence) denies any such right to the children if the father is missing. Many women have been thrown out of their homes while a lot have restrained from remarrying to keep the children at least in the shadows of their paternal families.
Of late the Kashmiri youth, even the leadership of Hurriyat, and many international players that Pakistan looks at for regional peace find infiltration into Kashmir a burden that should shed off.
Killings have become kosher in Kashmir. A bullet pumped into the body of a Kashmiri youth becomes a legal act when viewed through the lens of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 or other such laws. More stringent legislations are in the offing to keep the valley well into the bound of the Indian government, such as the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016. This bill is aimed at remapping Kashmir as a non-disputed part of India.
This agony and the ruthless solution to end the conundrum of Kashmir will have no end unless a new paradigm is developed to look at the situation. The Kashmiris are after all human beings having lived among guns and ruthless legal laws for too long now. Like any other people, they want to be educated. The new generation does not need cross-border infiltration to achieve freedom. Neither do they lack the fire required to get themselves free from the fetters of Indian atrocities. What they need most is the world, attentive to the sufferings inflicted on them. And the political leadership of both India and Pakistan need to find what the former President of Pakistan General Musharraf once called the Out-of-the-box solution.