By Brinda Khera:
As some of you might know, 30th August is observed as International Day of Disappeared Persons. During my research for this particular topic I came across a shocking number of people who were quite ignorant of the plight of Kashmir and its residents, so, I would start with a brief history. Following the outbreak of an armed conflict in the valley in 1989, a large number of army personnel were deployed in an effort to suppress the independence movement. Since then, the army under the AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act), has been violating human rights and enforced disappearances is a part of a larger scheme of repression followed by the state.
Out of the many blissfully ignorant people I spoke to, even more shocking were the replies; a lot of them apathetic due to the religion of the majority of the people suffering in the state. A major reason (false or not) given by the army while taking these disappeared people into custody is that they are conspiring against the Indian state and are rebels supported by Pakistan. A lot of them are proved innocent after being shot, even 13 year old boys who were wrongly accused. So, if in such a scenario where your own government is perpetuating these crimes against you, the only thing making it worse is that the people you can look up to for help think you deserve it. What I am trying to say is, in 67 years of independence as a secular country, the plight of our beloved ‘Kashmir ki ghaati’ is brushed aside because of politics played by our great leaders. 23 years of its struggle against the state and no one questions the absence of it in the manifesto of the political parties.
Don’t get me wrong, I hate it as much as anyone else that Discovery maps show parts of Kashmir in Pakistan or China. But I do hate the fact that our fellow innocent countrymen are suffering for the wrongs done by another and are stuck between a political tiff from where there seems to be no escape. The APDP (Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons) in Kashmir has been trying to fight and plead to the international community to exert pressure on the Indian state to uphold the internationally recognized standards and principles of Human Rights.
The Zubin Mehta concert organized by the German government was a slap in the face to these pleas for help and reminders of responsibility to the international community. The ‘peace’ making concert made little sense, in a place bereft of even the most basic rights, even when the 4 boys had not been shot during the concert (outside the premises) without any sort of trial or when Zubin Mehta had blamed the Kashmiri’s for their sufferings. The wariness of the chief minister Omar Abdullah only seems to be the cherry on the cake. The certain provisions and reliefs that the executive and the judiciary are to provide these people with just remain so on paper and here too, the state doesn’t fail to fail. The valley that used to be compared to the heavens has become the pit of hell for the residents.