By Team SAISA
September 28, 2013
Team SAISA carried out an extensive survey and interacted with a large number of stake holders in rural and urban Kashmir to gauge the realities on ground. We are carrying results of our research in a three part series – the first part covered our basic impressionshere, this post covers the Pre Afzal Guru hanging period while the concluding part will deal with the current dynamics born after the Gen VK Singh controversy and the way forward.
Status of J & K pre-Guru Hanging
Governance/ Human Rights
Kashmir post-2010 and pre-February 9, 2013 was well on its way to transform itself from a conflict into a post-conflict scenario. 2011 had been the most peaceful year in decades, and 2012 followed in a similar or even better vein. Most demonstrations and localized agitations had centered on issues of governance and basics, while most cries for Azadi had been absent from the streets for the first time since 2008. This was largely the result of the security forces having been more cautious so as to rehabilitate the extremely negative image it had gained during the previous three years, and also because of the army trying to play a more people friendly role, especially in remote rural areas.
Significantly, after a young man was shot by the army at a village of Rafiabad in Baramulla District in 2012, the army immediately apologized to the family, acknowledged that it had been a case of mistaken identity, and swiftly paid reparations to the family. Orders were also issued to the local command structure to use utmost caution while patrolling in the future. This prevented the situation from escalating on the local level, and did not raise eyebrows in Srinagar.
However, outstanding grievances like the prosecution of army officers involved in the Machil incident were still being discussed, and swift movement against the culprits would have gone a long way towards enhancing the credibility of the institution. Similarly, some progress should have been made in the investigations of some of the police killings of youth during 2010. Yet, for the most part, less brutal policing and also hearts and minds programs by the army had assured that people were focusing on other issues. Importantly, though, the perception remained that India applied different standards of democracy and jurisprudence for J & K as compared to other states.
While there had been large scale demonstrations throughout the country against corruption and lack of governance throughout 2011 and 2012, a similar right to legitimate dissent does not exist in J & K. Protests against these issues were and are often treated as though they are political/ secessionist in nature and are on many occasions either put down or not allowed at all. The continuous imposition of Section 144 in some urban areas was once again viewed as the stifling of any democratic outpouring of local resentment regardless of the topic. It was hoped that this would change after 2010 for people not to internalize issues, and for these grievances not to be transformed into something else as often happens in Kashmir. Moreover, there was an overwhelming feeling that the mainstream parties either don’t have the will or the skill to focus on good governance. Twenty years of conflict have allowed the ruling dispensation(s) to bank on emotive issues while development and curbing corruption have taken a backseat. The current dispensation has been viewed as very corrupt and ineffective. This sentiment is shared by people in urban and rural areas and also by each region. Issues that required and continue to require urgent attention include: