What happened in Ramban is virtually a norm in the Kashmir valley, where Indian forces aim their barrels at unarmed civilians to unleash death and gory. These uniformed forces have been, for decades, acting as the virtual gods of death and destruction here. Protests had started after the Indian Border Forces (BSF) had barged into a religious seminary at Gool (near Ramban), desecrated the Holy Quran and manhandled a devotee there. Yet, instead of containing the protests against the desecration, the local administration, in league with BSF troops are known to have fired at the protesters with an aim to kill. The subsequent lies of IG BSF about ‘instigation from protesters were nailed when the preliminary inquiry revealed that the lone BSF constable to be injured, had received a fire from BSF personnel themselves, only while he was returning to the camp.
The brazen display of disregard for human life in Kashmir by the Indian forces and the open attempts by Indian officers, government and media, to shield the killers in all such cases come as the policy of New Delhi towards Kashmir. And such policy of ‘eliminating civilians’ with ‘impunity for the Forces’ has been insured against by draconian laws like AFSPA, which India would not want to remove from here for obvious reasons. While the state government has announced an inquiry into this incident, the locals know that this is another attempt to buy time and bury this case, like thousands of other crimes by organs of the Indian state in Kashmir, which never saw the light of any justice. Such inquiries are only announced to be filed into forgotten corners of the investigating agency offices, and all inquiries are then relegated to a deliberate forgetfulness. Of the thousands of such inquiries announced over the decades, not a single case has been closed with justice, not a single killer has even been touched with a long pair of tongs. And it is this mentality of ‘impunity for all crimes against civilians’ that has been cultivated into the Indian forces stationed in Kashmir. Each Indian trooper is more powerful here than the Chief Minister himself, who can do no more than issue old photocopied statements of ‘incident is condemned, inquiry has been ordered’. In its real capacity, the political government can only flex its muscles against the hapless civilians by barricading them, putting them under unending curfews, arresting them without charges under PSA and oppressing them no end. This political rulership cannot even dare to touch a single killer soldier in Kashmir, lest New Delhi pulls the carpet from beneath their chairs.
Why do only the Muslims in Kashmir have to suffer at the hands of India, both through religious persecution (by denying them the right to pray and by desecrating their holy places) and by erasing their lives? Is this the culmination of a Hindu Indian republic in the Indian governance, the armed forces and in the moving right winged opinion on ground? Ironically, many of the same Kashmiri Pandit families, who had been provided free food and accommodation during their migration years by these very Ramban Muslims, were the ones to justify these killings. Whatever happened to humanity and empathy?
It is this scenario of anarchy, political and human rights hopelessness, a government that is subservient to the Army, purported and controlled by New Delhi is seen as the primary enemy of the common people here. What expectations do we have from a state that cannot even protect the right of religious freedom or civil life here? When the state acts as a mute spectator to this gory and mayhem, followed by its efforts to deny justice to the aggrieved citizens, the notion of an aristocratic fascist state gains strength. Would the Indian troops have even dared to shoot at unarmed civilians, had they known that law and justice will catch with them? The impunity provided to them does not only lie in the draconian laws forced upon Kashmir, it also lies in the willingness of the political state to play an alibi in this crime by deliberately subverting justice and by strengthening this impunity through enforcing the denial of human rights.