Omar Abdullah owes it to his own future to regain the lost confidence of his nearest next-generation
It was Tufail Mattoo's martyrdom that defined the 2010 summer uprising in the Kashmir Valley and, two years later, it is the terrified look of Faizan Ahmed Sofi in police custody that defines the undiluted cruelty of the state and the regime.
Obviously, nothing has changed since the time when Tufail, carrying his school bag on way to his home, was felled by indiscriminate police firing that eventually went on to score a dubious 'century' of casualties.
It may be only a coincidence but it is gruesome enough that a flowering generation of Kashmiri youth happened to be at the receiving end of state terrorism under a regime headed by one from their nearest older generation. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's power and position ought to have instilled confidence and inspired hope amongst his following -generation. But, tragically, he happened to be presiding over a regime whose report card is blood-stained and whose public face betrays ruthlessness. Omar might have his share of excuses and explanation to justify his failure in this regard but the history is bound to record its harsh verdict on the basis of ground reality.
Even as the process of investigation and prosecution of cases involving largescale killing of young boys in 2010 is struggling to make headway, mainly because of official apathy, the list of victims of excesses and atrocities committed by the state apparatus has been lengthening day after day. It looks as if the younger generation is specifically targeted for indiscriminate use of state power. If and when the immoral extra-ordinary legal protection provided to the security apparatus is lifted and rule of law is allowed to prevail, as indeed it should be, floodgates of redressal are bound to be flung open. The long and lengthening list of victims has been haplessly hoping for that day to come as they encounter frustration in their quest for justice.
The culture of unaccountability and immunity cultivated by the state apparatus over the past three decades has become a breeding ground for gross injustices and grave violation of basic rights of citizens in general and the younger generations in particular.
The ease with which the state and its coercive mechanism including police commit gross atrocities and go on to defend their action is a blot on the face of decency, democracy and civilised behaviour. The victims are robbed of every option to seek justice. Tufail Mattoo's court case continues to drag on and on, like dozens of cases of other victims. Affected families have lost hope of securing justice. Meanwhile, the ruthless regime continues to steam roll 'erring' young boys with not even the least sense of humanitarian consideration. The least that the government could have done, if indeed it so intended, was to arrange fast track investigation and prosecution of long pending cases. That a 12-year young boy was seen as being such a great threat to the security of the state that he had to be thrown behind bars and booked under draconian laws along with hardened criminals smacks of totalitarianism. Thanks to the small mercy shown by a court that Faizan was shifted to juvenile home until he was released on bail.
For over three years this government has been promising to reform its outdated juvenile justice act but till now nothing has been done. Reason is not far to seek. Reformed act would require the police to justify their action against young boys and to convince law courts on putting them behind bars without trial. No civilised society can tolerate gross victimisation of its youth on such a large scale and for such a long time. Omar owes it to his own future to wake up to his own responsibility in this regard and restore public confidence in his ability to protect the legitimate rights and aspirations of his nearest next-generation. Otherwise, he stands to suffer the inevitable historical verdict.
[editorial-Kashmir Times-Aug 30, 2012]