September 23, 2020

Peace under lockdown in Kashmir

Though the latest remark of the Home Ministry that no stone pelting incidents were witnessed since August 5 last year in Kashmir is irrefutable but equally irrefutable fact is that stone protests have stopped not due to downgrading of the erstwhile state to a union territory and scrapping of it’s special status through withdrawal of Article 370 and Article 35 A but due to complete lockdown for more than a year. If people are happy with the last year’s August 5 decisions as claimed by the central government time and again, then why no restoration of 4 G internet services even after one year of complete lockdown and why detentions and restrictions on mainstream leaders don’t head to any dead end even after more than one year. When Government on August 5 last year said that even the mainstream leaders who propagated electoral politics for almost 30 years despite challenges from the people of other ideologies are a threat to peace, the people reserved the right to ask the government to identify the proponents and promoters of peace and electoral politics in Jammu & Kashmir. If all the mainstream leaders are threat to peace in Kashmir, then why most of them have been released and many others are still under detention. Discrimination in releases and detentions of political leaders in Kashmir shown by the central government shows that dissenters are allowed to exercise the right to dissent only at the whims and wishes of the government.

Democracy won’t even survive if the dissent is disallowed in the highest law making body of the country and democracy would surely thrive if people are allowed to protest against the legislations within and outside the law making bodies. Taking away the right to dissent within or outside the law making bodies in an insult to democracy and public accountability. As long as fear of lockdown continues to loom large over the heads of hapless populations in Kashmir, the possibility of streets protests returning to Kashmir is ruled out by the people who have the distinction of covering deadliest street protest in 2008, 2010 and 2016. 

Suspension of over half a dozen parliament members from participation in the proceedings of the Rajaya Sabha, the upper house of parliament after their protests against the controversial agriculture bills is yet another glaring example of the central government’s curbs on dissenters. When government virtually takes away the right to protest from the lawmakers in the highest legislative forum of the biggest democracy of the world, even naives can understand the causes of unimaginable drop in the frequency of stone pelting incidents in Kashmir under the strict law lockdown for complete one year. Since dissent is the soul of democracy, the curbs on law makers for opposing the bills rightly or wrongly is a blow to democracy. Democracy won’t even survive if the dissent is disallowed in the highest law making body of the country and democracy would surely thrive if people are allowed to protest against the legislations within and outside the law making bodies. Taking away the right to dissent within or outside the law making bodies in an insult to democracy and public accountability. As long as fear of lockdown continues to loom large over the heads of hapless populations in Kashmir, the possibility of streets protests returning to Kashmir is ruled out by the people who have the distinction of covering deadliest street protest in 2008, 2010 and 2016.

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