THE PARADISE UNDER SIEGE BY YAQEEN - UL - HAQ AHMAD SIKANDERToday there are so many diverse issues and problems for the people of Kashmir. Somepeople may point that unemployment is an important problem, some may say corruptionand some may pass a verdict that militancy is hampering the development of Kashmir. Oursociety is full of various troubles, which to refer, drug addiction, black marketing, red-tapism, back-door entries in different departments, bribery, cultural pollution, and the listgoes on and on.But as a resident of the valley of Kashmir, I think that the Human Rights violations going onhere due to the ongoing conflict is the most significant issue for the people of Kashmir andeverybody should be concerned about it not only in Kashmir but in the world as a whole.But I think that the minds of very few people are diverted towards this issue. This issue hasraised so many relevant issues, shaking the very foundation of our society. The occupationalarmy is the fundamental obstacle which is responsible for the sabotage of progress andenlightenment of the Kashmiri people. Since the last eighteen years, the land described asthe paradise of earth is virtually under siege with more than half a million armed personnel,the highest number of Army during peace time anywhere in the world - turning this Paradiseinto a concentration camp. The desire to fulfil other significant issues cools down becausethese forces have become the biggest threat to the security of the common people, whoselives they are supposed to secure. Lakhs are troops are present here to crush the eighteenyear old genuine struggle of the innocent people who are the sufferers of every type ofharassment by the troops.In the presence of occupational troops in any part of the world, the political, social, and theeconomic life of the people is victimised. In the spread of drug-addiction and alcoholism, thetroops have a big hand. The boy at the age of attending the school becomes a victim ofdrugs. Parents spend their sweat-soaked earnings to make the childs future bright but heremains in addicted state of mind, wasting his precious time and proving as a bane not onlyto his parents but to the whole society. Many incidents have been reported where girls havebeen abducted and ruthlessly abused by the security forces. These abducted girls, ifreleased alive, have a social stigma attached to them for whole life and espousing them is anagonizing task. Many times these girls commit suicide to put an end to their wretchedness.The troops use the way of terror in the form of custodial executions, extreme torture,forced labour, gang rapes, fake encounters and enforced disappearances in order tosuppress the wishes and feelings of innocent Kashmiri people. Draconian laws like the
Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Public Safety Act (PSA) not only increasesthe oppression but also gives more powers to armed forces to Catch and Kill. The issue ofHuman Rights violations carries a great significance for all of us and this issue is theunderpinning of various other issues that hold masses under their influence.Due to modern technology, the whole world has become a global village. Any happening ofany corner of the world becomes a highlight on every TV channel. Recently the whole worldbecame aware of the fake-encounter cases of the innocent people of Kashmir which werekilled just for a mere reward. There are more than ten thousand disappearance cases inKashmir alone. According to the report released by UN on November 8, 1992,disappearance is a serious crime against humanity and it is severe than the custodialexecution. In case of custodial execution, the family members try to console themselves butin case of disappearance the search never ends. The victims family remain in a perpetualtrauma. Their life becomes a burden due to mental agony. They lose the charm of theirlives. Young people of the family disheartened with the circumstances prevailing in thefamily lose interest in their studies and careers. The potential to become a significant organof the society is crushed. The feelings of revenge get stronger and result is beyond thedescription.The consequences of these unpleasant circumstances are hampering the real zeal andenthusiasm of youth in this valley. In any case whether custodial killing, fake encounter orenforced disappearance, the sole bread earner is lost in the majority of cases. The childrenor young siblings of the victim have to leave educational career either for financial crisis orfor lack of concentration. In many cases the wives of the victims take the financialresponsibility. They are often sexually exploited by their employers. They become victim ofmany outside pressures because of their illiteracy.In most cases of disappearance, the victims family members are exploited by the para-military forces by make them move from pillar to post. They deceive them by saying that thevictim is in their custody but it is simply a hallucination. These family members arefinancially looted there and if the family member proves as woman, she gets a social stigma.So many rumours are attached to her character, and sometimes it proves fatal for aninnocent woman. They are socially out-casted and taunted as immoral by their nears anddears. It has been experienced that the victims of HR violations by army are deprived ofevery support by the society. Their daughters are not taken in marriage, if they are wives,they are deprived of their share and thrown out by the in laws or if they are rape victimsthen life is a living hell for them and as a result of all this suicide rates are increasing atalarming rates in Kashmir.There has been a tremendous increase in the mental disease in Kashmir. The number ofpatients visiting the Government Psychiatric Hospital in Srinagar was 775 in 1985 but now ithas increased up to 60,000 in the year 2006. The increase in the mental trauma is the
impact of unpleasant circumstances, mental agony and stress, says a Psychiatrist DrMushtaq Margoob.The children of a victim are often made to work as child labourers to support the needs oftheir family or are left in the orphanages. They suffer from split-personality and frequentlyexpress their desire to revenge the death of their fathers or close relatives. To relievethemselves of this stress, these children and youths often opt for drugs giving rise to manyother types of crimes. The daily mortification in the form of crack-down of important placeslike Lal Chowk and frequent search in buses by armed forces contributes significantly to thefeeling of depression. This savagery of Para-military forces has developed Post TraumaticStress Disorder (PTSD) in many people. About 15-20% of the Kashmiri people are sufferingfrom this disease, a research scholar reported this data recently.It has been rightly said that only sound individuals can contribute to the advancement ofany nation but in Kashmir the bulk of the people are mentally sick though they seemphysically fit. "Women in Kashmir are among the worst victims of sexual violence and it hasleft their minds badly bruised", says a study done in mid 2005 by Medicine Sans Frontiers(MSF). According to this study, since 1989 sexual violence has been routinely perpetrated onKashmiri women, with 11.6% of respondents saying that they were the victims of sexualabuse. This is a very high figure than that reported in conflict regions of Sri-Lanka, Sierra-Leone and Chechnya. These victims often opt for suicide to end their wretchedness. TheArmy is occupying the orchards and other agricultural lands around more than 10,000 acres,thus smashing the economy of Kashmir. The major trade centre of Srinagar i.e. Lal Chowk ismany times cordoned daily, thus increasing the miseries of common man and ruining thebusiness of shop-keepers.The Army in order clean their image launched the program for the empowerment of womenunder the disguise of operation Sadhbhavana. They on their part have actually degradedthe status of Kashmiri women known for their modesty to mistresses and society butterflieswho are mere tools in the hand of pleasure seekers and sex marketers hidden behind thecolourful screen of Art and Culture. These types of activities have given rise to a culturewhich is alien to us. So we have paid a huge price on every front whether it is social, politicalor economic.The culture of Renegades is among the fruits of troops present here and now the troops areturning this to Intellectual Renegadism. The recent example being the Allama Iqbals coupletwhich has been translated by CRPF and erected near the gate of Bakhshi Stadium. UsingQuranic verses, couplets of Habba Khatoon, Sheikh-ul-Aalam, etc, they are using our historyagainst us, projecting our thinkers and our intellectuals against us.
In the presence of huge occupational forces, a nation, its people, its self-claimed leaders andrulers may claim about its progress. But their claim is nothing but a mirage. When the HRviolations will disappear from Kashmir then only its people can contribute towards progress.The people can then only employ their mind-power and energy to make the valley ofKashmir a real Paradise. My humble requests to my people are that please and please thinkabout this issue for a while and then only you will realize its importance. Our Paradise is onfire and it is our responsibility to save it. Our society, especially our youth who are ourfuture instead of working for the solution of this problem are alienating themselves awayfrom it. Some may excuse that we are not politicians or intellectuals but everyone among ushas to be active and no one can pass this buck to others. Arent one lakh lives enough toinspire us to get up and do something for saving our Paradise? Are we going to make thisdream come true? The question Laments.(The Author can be reached at www.yaqeenulhaq.info or can be mailed at email@example.com)