Author: Saadut
•9:54 PM

My friend long back narrated this story of a young man who sold Kashmiri shawls in Calcutta, where he one day fell ill. Days of medication and rest had only helped him recover partially. One day they found him missing from his room during the day and by evening when he came back, his condition had improved tremendously. Inquiring about this change, they found that he had spent the day along a stinking water stretch of the city, which bore almost an unbearable stench. Since back home this young man lived close to a stinking water body in Srinagar, most of which has been encroached and the remaining being killed by emptying drains and filth, the stench of that stinking Calcutta corner suddenly had made him feel home. I don’t know the reality behind this story, but this narration surely reflects the predicament of Kashmir today, with people assuming such indifference to heinous criminality that such occurrences are assumed to be the norm now.  Hence if it does not stink, it does not seem normal for some. 

The recent molestation case against a ruling politician and the covert ways and means adopted by the state apparatus in saving him is just a continuity of the set rule of ‘indispensable Kashmiris’ and ‘anything in the name of Indian Nationalism’. As in numerous other cases, not only was the criminality of this politician brazen, the follow-up by the India supported state apparatus in Kashmir was also demonic. An accused VVIP who is covered by layers of police security and whose every move is otherwise monitored by an overwhelming security grid suddenly remains ‘untraceable’ for arrest. And this ghostly ‘untraceable’ act only ends when it has been ensured that a bail has been procured. A security apparatus that is understood to have knowledge of every whisper, every text, every personal event in Kashmir, that has every door and every window across Kashmir under its scanners, suddenly can’t trace a ‘secured politician’. With this ‘untraceable until bail’ they were not testing the IQ level of Kashmiris but only continuing to identify with a reputation ; a reputation build by incidents like officers accused of ‘rape in custody’ and ‘custodial death’ not only promoted  but also awarded gallantry awards, by police known to have killed youngsters in cold blood in Kashmir (remember 2010), by using PSA against hundreds of juveniles and lodging them in adult jails, by making ‘militants out of young men’. This security grid, far from being identified for the people, has been recognized against the commoners in Kashmir, an iron fist that the oppressive state survives on. Hence the molestation accused politician after emerging from ‘hiding’, taking an easy flight to Srinagar, being welcomed at the state circuit house over breakfast and lunch at leisure and then driving down to the police station to ‘record a statement’, where he was reportedly not only accorded political protocol but also offered ‘kehwa’, did not surprise many. Instead of treating the politician as an accused, he was being treated as a political VVIP, and in such a scenario the fate of this case was already evident. Tejpal in India and this ‘kehwa politician’ in Kashmir, same crime yet different treatment must be part of the special status of ‘atoot angg’. 

Indian media known to indulge in ‘exoneration’ or ‘silence’ on crimes committed by state arms against Kashmiris again chipped in by not only disclosing the name of victim but also hinting at her family relations to a separatist. Would that mean crimes against kin of separatists are justified, and since majority of people in Kashmir have been calling for a resolution of Kashmir hence labeled separatists by India, such crimes are sought to be justified against this majority?

The politically powerful in Kashmir dare such heinous crimes not only because they have been afforded impunity by the Indian state here, but also because people tend to have hardened into an indifferent breed. Such criminals survive because the society allows them to breed on our insensitivity and unconcern, because these powerful criminals are accepted in our social folds with open arms. Many years ago a senior state officer (now retired) narrated to me the shameful escapades of a powerful politician he had witnessed in Gulmarg and the moral disdain he had for that politician. Some years later I saw this officer boasting of his links with the same politician and using them for some prize postings. His morality talk had sold for graft greed peanuts. Also have witnessed a police officer, who was accused of many custodial killings and unimaginable oppression, being accorded more than a welcome in many social gatherings. Were the hosts frightened of his repressive power or indifferent towards the blood on his hands?

This is not the first case where the powerful accused had been accorded such treatment and escape route. The infamous sex scandal (of 2006) where the mighty and powerful were involved and then let free, provides a glimpse of how justice is manipulated in the most heinous of crimes when it comes to Kashmir. And in all such cases the accused have sought refuge in ‘Indian nationalism’, reinforcing how New Delhi’s representatives in Kashmir enjoy impunity for rape, molestation and murders as long as these crimes are committed against ‘rebellious Kashmiris’. Such accused politicians displaying ‘we have been accused because we are Indian nationalists in Kashmir’ are similar to the Indian army claims in KunanPoshpora, Pathribal and Machil and countless other crimes. While the latter kills for bounty and medals under an anti insurgency (aimed at commoners) impunity, the former molests rapes and steals under the cover of ‘political nationalism’. What greater irony than the same accused ruling class being thrust upon us time and again, to rule, commit, exonerate, and again rule, commit, exonerate in a loop. The sex scandal accused of 2006 are the rulers of today, the killers of yesteryears and the ‘gallantry officers’ of today ; both complementing each other in this stinking oppressive system. In the last election a woman voter when asked why she voted for a sex accused minister, replied “but he did not molest my daughter. Why should I not vote for him!” Such people are the ‘ganez nass’ of our society, the ‘till it does not burn me, the fire does not exist’ types. Why do some people need tragedies to touch their own kin to make them feel the pain? When pain and anger is not felt collectively, destruction by divisions and fragments is bound to happen. What if the molested had been that woman’s daughter and then the society had expressed the same indifference? What if the victim had been the kin of those policemen who let the molester politician hide or the sex scandal accused get away? What if the society then assumed the same indifference and the system played the same tyrant? What is indifferent to you today can be indifferent on you tomorrow. 

‘Yatha Raja Thatha Praja (as the ruler so the ruled) for Kashmiris has become ‘Yatha Praja Thatha Raja’ (as the ruled so the ruler). 

For how long will the stink around us, governing us, fooling us, ruling us, be treated as normal?

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