Repealing AFSPA Only won’t Make Much Difference in Kashmir

Jul 27th, 2016 | Category: Articles

By Ishaal Zehra

While it’s been four years that the United Nations has asked India to repeal the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, the Indian Army has continued with its horrendous practice of killing innocent, un-armed Kashmiris taking the death toll to 64 in a recent strife that hit the valley of Kashmir after the unjustified killing of Burhan Wani by the Indian forces. The Indian forces have continued to impose curfew and restrictions in the occupied Kashmir on the 18th consecutive day to prevent people from staging demonstrations against the killing spree, unleashed by them using those special power act AFSPA.

How does it feels to be under constant curfew and restrictions? Huzaifa Pandit a Kashmiri blogger/writer so well described the feelings being a curfewed human when he wrote, “often friends living outside the state start conversations these days with the question: How are you? I wish to reply to the question but I can’t seem to find correct adjectives to describe how I am. In times of curfewed life, every word appears to attain a hue of its own and leaves me utterly confused. Somewhere down the line, I am reminded of the man in Lawrence’s poem “Snake”:

And voices in me said,    
If you were a man
You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off.”

Whenever a boy dies in Indian occupied Kashmir fighting for his identity and life or for the life of his family and dear ones or may be for defending the honour of his sister or wife, my mind inevitably perceives his image keeping his age in mind. In most cases they are little boys with shiny eyes and smiling face, barely exceeding the age of twenty five. Burhan was only fifteen, the newspaper said, when he decided to fight. And the question is what compelled him to go fight against Indian illegal occupation of his land? And actually what compelled the Indian forces to kill him? Apparently he took the gun in his hand after killing of his brother at the hands of Indian forces and the Indian forces killed him just for not letting them continue with their evil design of illegal occupation of his Kashmir. A blogger and a yale Ph.D scholar on Kashmir says, “as a scholar, my research in Kashmir has taught me to discredit sensationalism around Kashmiri political figures. Thus, from my conversations in Kashmir, I was aware that Burhan has come to dominate the popular imagination because of his moral challenge to the Indian state.” Sad enough, his moral challenge lead to his killing.

Burhan Wani’s death lead the grieved Kashmiris to streets protesting against the unlawful occupation of their land and killings of who-so-ever at the hands of Indian forces with special powers awarded to them by the state of India. Since that day, many Kashmiris have been killed during confrontations between protesters and security forces. Thousands have been injured, many by pellet guns wielded by the police and security forces as a crude form of crowd control. Kashmir’s hospitals are overwhelmed, and more than 100 people, mostly young, are threatened with blindness by pellets lodged in their eyes.

Grieving Burhan is so wrong because the Indian state tells Kashmiri people that he is not grieve-able, and if Kashmiris do grieve him, they will be shot or maimed or killed; even be used as a worthless dead-body on which the war of land-claim will be played with the complete backing of Indian political class and their media.

Inshah Malik says, “When the state makes such a decision about the dispensability of people for strengthening its political claims, it assigns grieve-ability to such bodies. Thus, the media and political class in defence of the state create the distinction of who is to be grieved (soldiers) and who we mustn’t grieve for (in this case Burhan).” “This evokes important questions such as should civilian grieving prompt the state to kill, maim, rape and sensor Kashmiri people?”

Kashmir is subject to India’s Armed Forces Special Powers Act, or AFSPA, which grants the military wide powers to arrest, shoot to kill, occupy or destroy property. The result is a culture of brutal disdain for the local population. Therefore, the question of Indian claim over the land becomes the question of law. Consequently, in the case of thousands of human rights violation cases, it’s the state that ultimately decides whether the law applies or not.”

The New York Times, in its editorial says, “… These and other questions argue for an independent investigation into the use of force by Indian security forces in the occupied Kashmir, and for the reform of practices — including censorship, communications blackouts, and those allowed by AFSPA. A failure to take these steps will only push more young Kashmiris into militancy, and make a political solution impossible that alone can bring an end to the desperation that has, once again, gripped the region.” I would further add to the statement, this should be done immediately while seriously making way for the permanent solution. World should focus on Kashmir and UN be told to arrange for the already decided free and fair plebiscite in the valley which will ultimately lead to ending the crisis. All the best Kashmir!

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