Policy and anarchy
It is in the Indian culture to respect saints. It is also the democratic right of citizens to protest against the government and demand certain actions and policy change. But it is unfair to insist on certain actions even if it is not practical to implement them.
It was very strange that for first time in our post-independence history that four cabinet ministers went to the airport to welcome a yoga guru, Ramdev. The government also negotiated with him in a hotel and accepted most of his demands. But he continued his fast. The country has never seen such sort of satyagraha during the freedom movement. One should not be surprised if sadhus go on fast and insist on policies such as what people should wear, eat and how they should marry.
We are moving in a dangerous direction. Every right thinking person must think and rise against this kind of anarchy.
Mint recently published a Quick Edit (“Of political tourists”, 14 June) that was recommended by Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) chief minister Omar Abdullah on Twitter with the comment, “LOL. Short but says it all”. This was because the 157-word-long edit supported the J&K government using the section 144 of the code of criminal procedure to disallow activist Gautam Navlakha in the state. Abdullah has said Navlakha would be welcome in the winter; the state police said that Navlakha was sent back because they apprehended him causing trouble in the charged atmosphere.
The J&K government and Mint seem to both suggest that Navlakha and other activists like him are the cause of trouble in Kashmir’s summers. Calling them political tourists, the edit calls for them to be kept in Delhi and fed ice cream. It is shameful that a paper of your prestige endorses the charge of Navlakha being an agent of political unrest without any basis or evidence. Even the J&K government has not produced any evidence to this effect.
It seems Mint’s editors and reporters were avoiding “political tourism” in Kashmir last summer and were instead enjoying various ice cream flavours in Delhi. Had they paid some attention, they would have seen that in one of the world’s most militarized zones, security forces weren’t exactly doing conflict tourism. There were three killings of innocent youth in January and February 2010; a fake encounter on the Line of Control on 30 April that came to light a month later; the police fired a tear gas shell so recklessly that an innocent 17-year-old, Tufail Mattoo, was killed while returning from tuition. More killings followed, and the cycle of protests and killings became vicious when the police and Central Reserve Police Force did not let a family bury one such victim at the martyr’s graveyard in downtown Srinagar. The toll of the dead from last year’s killings has reached 120 and in no case has Gautam Navlakha been accused of having incited violence.
I hold no brief for Navlakha and have never met him, but it is not difficult to see why the J&K government, and, perhaps, the home ministry in Delhi, don’t want to let him be in Kashmir. Since the conflict began, Navlakha has been writing about Kashmir in various papers and magazines, including the Economic and Political Weekly where he is a consulting editor, but such writing is derided in the edit. Navlakha is also a part of a tribunal that has exposed, to give one example, the existence of thousands of anonymous graves in Kashmir.
While it is understandable that speaking truth to power doesn’t make his right to free speech dear to the state, one does not understand why Mint would support this. Mint writes that when there is a peaceful summer in Kashmir it fuels unrest among Islamabad and activists—the sort of linking of human rights activists with Pakistan that would do the Pakistani establishment proud.
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