Where are you now? Who lies beneath your spell tonight
before you agonize him in farewell tonight?
I beg for haven: Prisons let open your gates-
A refugee from Belief seeks a cell tonight.
– Agha Shahid Ali
Finally, the state Cabinet which met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah agreed to promulgation of the ordinance titled “The Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (Amendment) Ordinance 2011”. So the government of the state by this way did away with some of the ‘harsher’ clauses of the Act. It brilliantly approved the deduction in the imprisonment period of “criminals” to three months in ‘normal criminal cases’ which will be in the range of six to ten months depending upon the degree and intensity of the “crime”.
Nonetheless a dismal dawn has dawned upon the long enchained Kashmiri nation once again when the newspapers published on October 29, “JK-PSA amended” and the like. On the very first sight every desolated Kashmiri was quite up with a happiness enough ingressive to wage via veins of chest to get flatted and but at the same time pretty frenzy to give desperately another cry adding it to the innumerable ones of the past. After a lot of constant pressures from various human rights’ watch dogs, activists and peace organizations; the NC-Congress reign in Jammu and Kashmir led by a young rosy face-Omar Abdullah; surely could not help but to, finally, amend the Ordinance.
As a matter of fact it is worth significant to mention that in Jammu and Kashmir, under the nomenclature of security reasons, Public Safety Act (PSA) and Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), besides many other acts and powers that the people there term “Draconian Laws” are virtually in rule. From the past three years a dramatically good number of Kashmiris have been made breathe in jails, arrested for protesting against the rule of the PSA and AFSPA. It seems as if the sentences Kashmiris use in sloganeering while protesting are pretty druggy that within no time invites wrath of the armed forces. So, in Kashmir, you are eligible to speak but under rules defined. Then in no way you are able to say anything that unhappy the rule that’s in rule there. If you did you violated the rule and the one who violates the law or rule is a “criminal” as per the view of the ruler.
However, what if the people are harassed and tortured for rising against the atrocities, raped and molested forcibly to keep mum, looked upon as terrorists to be defamed in the rest of the world, beaten and thrashed for nothing and that too often and frequently then isn’t it the natural tendencies of humans that will lead them register their protest on the streets and roads. And when they protest they simply get jailed under PSA. Thereby it conveys a message that the situation of the people in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly the valley, is such as if you don’t even deserve anything like living humanly. It is quite hard also, for the people; forget Custodial killings, disappearances; mass graves and the like for all this is the routine news heads that the dailies read there every morning. So, its natural the people, when treated inhumanly, will protest against the ruling government no matter what is face of the ruler is like.
But the rulers of Jammu and Kashmir seemed unaware, till date, of the fact that there are also humans present in this world in different dresses but of course very sensitive to feel the agony and pain of the sufferers. They live for humanity not for a mere ‘chair’ that lasts only six years. Feeling the pain, at somewhat the same degree the Kashmiris are feeling because of the military occupation, many human rights activist groups, NGO’s and organizations like Amnesty International proved successful in pressurizing present government declare an amendment to the PSA. This word ‘amendment’ looks very nice. When it reaches the ears of a common Kashmiri that an Act like the PSA has been amended and AFSPA is in the pipeline her/his joy knows no bounds. The reason for this is that Kashmiris are suffering since decades together and whole of the world is quite aware of the atrocities and injustice that lash upon the people ruthlessly the day in and the day out. It gives them a feel of secure environ. But when they actually look on it the way it is. They cry and what else can they do?
Many media groups have covered the news that people call this amendment a strained one realized as a grotesque and nothing more. A sense of mockery lies with the name of the PSA, as it talks about the safety of Public. But one wonders as how this act is providing the safety to the people of Kashmir. Rather in other terms it provides safety to the Indian troops to crush the nationalistic voices that have much vociferously started coming out from the Kashmir. Many thanks to Facebook and YouTube. So this amendment which the Omar’s cabinet have done is nothing but a try for turning its bitterness to more sweetness. What remains intact is the more strong nature in itself.
So, if the present CM was really sympathetic towards people he should not have jested the justice like this. Now AFSPA is also in the pipeline of so called revocation. Hope the rulers be a bit just.
M F Janawari is a Research Scholar, Linguistics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.