Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Missing Finger

The State is a cruel figure. There is no doubt about that. And who would know it better than us, the Kashmiri Pandits, who have suffered brutally at the hands of state apathy and negligence. There obviously have been extra judicial killings in Kashmir both by terrorists and sometimes by Armed Forces too. There can be no denying the fact that many innocent people have lost their lives because of the gun that came to the valley and brought with itself what we all called the Gun-Culture.

So many young men disappeared overnight not to be seen ever again. Even their bodies were not found. Their parents with the help of separatist sympathisers and separatists themselves formed a body called ADDP or Association of Parents pf Disappeared People. The distressed parents immediately believed that their sons had been killed by the armed forces. That they could have crossed over to the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, somehow never occurred to them. These naïve Kashmiris must have been so distraught by the sudden disappearance of their loved ones that the moment someone lent them a helping hand they would have no reason not to believe him/her.

I too had believed for a long time that thousands have disappeared in Kashmir till I looked up the website of the ADDP. There are some 75 people (some without photographs) whose names are displayed in the list of the people who have disappeared. But that is the issue. Even if one person is disappeared and not been found, it is serious. The perception in the minds of the parents is that their son has been killed by the security forces. Most of the Indian Media too has lapped up this version without truly going into the details of the persons who have seemingly disappeared. We have therefore been fed by our liberal media that the Indian armed forces are killers at large who pick Kashmiri Muslims at random and then kill them and throw away their bodies. And it is not the usual limousine liberal’s point of view but the average Indian Journo’s story too.

On 27th of March 2009, the armed forces arrested 4 armed terrorists in Kashmir. All of them were indigenous Kashmiris who had disappeared some day keeping their parents in dark about their romantic pursuits across the border. As the Indian Army became more vigilant on the border the Pakistan Government issued them passports and put them on a PIA flight to Kathmandu. They then travelled via train to Jammu and finally were arrested with their new passports.

This news received wide circulation but not as much as the news of their disappearance would have. How hell would have broken loose had someone known that 4 Kashmiri Muslims had gone missing? How Arundhati Roy’s of this world would have written columns in Outlooks asking for government to come clean on the thousands of disappearances? Thousands would have been a synonym for four.

Not that there is no need for an independent enquiry into the disappearances of the Kashmiris but what is equally needed is to make the unfortunate parents of these boys aware of this dimension of the problem. The government must immediately inform the parents of these four men and tell them the true story of their boys so that they are not used by separatists and self serving activists to further their own goals. It will set other parents to think about their missing fingers too.

If the government fails to do so, the day may not be far away when names of dreaded terrorists like Syed Sallaudhin and Mushtaq Latram are also on the list of Disappeared.