Despite being in the ranking of ‘world’s largest’, democracy in India, unfortunately, has not brought uniformly distributed feeling of democratic independence, in all regions of present Indian territory. It is the same country where , it seems that state failed itself on the scale of democratic values, when it comes on ‘special states’ of ‘North East Region in India’ and of ‘Jammu and Kashmir’. These states are under continuous monitoring and filled with heavy deployment of armed forces and facing a kind of ‘military rule’ where no one can complaint against soldiers, despite the acts of ‘murders, rapes and other kind of such crimes’ committed by them. It seems that a democratic state surrenders itself even in vocabulary, where it sees ‘crimes’ as acts done by civil population, while it does not categories acts of ‘killings’, ‘rapes’ ‘torture’ etc under ‘crimes’, if it is being done by state functionaries like armed forces.
It seems that ‘killing’ is not a crime in these states; instead it depends on who did it. Though the same practice has been adopted at many parts around globe, but there is a difference that in other parts (non AFSPA imposed regions), killing is not a crime, as it depends on who killed, and ‘to whom, how and for what’. Unfortunately, world’s largest democratic state feels shame to ask these questions of ‘whom, how and what’ in AFSPA imposed states. Not asking such question is carelessness and loophole on one side and on other, state denies its citizens to ask such questions or to raise voice against such acts through providing special provisions under Armed Forces Special Powers Act Section 6 where no inquiry, or criminal proceedings can be done against any armed force personals without pre sanction of central government. It is like developing a culture of being illogical, being unaccountable , being unquestionable, being opaque for armed forces and being under continuous oppression and fear for common citizens. It is discrimination of common civilians by state. It is something that not only violates human rights, but even denies the right to ask question, legality and fair inquiry against any act done by armed force personals.
Now, recently when AFSPA was repealed from Tripura, there was much happiness and celebration among people. While now, Ministry of Home Affairs extended AFSPA in Nagaland for another term by declaring that the whole state is disturbed area. Also on Arunachal Pradesh, government denied to provide information about AFSPA when it was asked by a RTI activist. Moreover, recent launch of Amnesty International India report named Justice Denied on Jammu and Kashmir, reported many such stories of victims where people faced extra ordinary powers granted to soldiers. By all such acts and reports, it is a clear message that state is incapable to deal the situation in these areas through civil police, and through ordinary rules of law and order that is applicable over whole country. Instead, state adopted a rigorous strategy to deal with, provided extra ordinary powers to ‘armed forces’ called and deployed in these areas.
When it comes to show what it achieved, it can be seen that it achieved so much discontent and dissatisfaction of common people in these areas, it made their lives uneasy and in continuous suspicion, fear and threats. State is happy (?) that it is continuously working on the same strategy since last many years, more than a decade in J&K and more than two decades in North East states and still , it is not providing impeccable service to citizens.
In this way, state is developing a contradiction on its own existence, where democracy and its meaning for people, comes under scanner. It is normalizing violence through adopting it as a tool, instead of adopting a long term non violent solution. Making such temporary measures of violence for such a long period in a region has made the whole region a land of conflict and affected with a disorder where violence is everyday story. It is something that no democracy ever wish to achieve, and it provides evidence that how understanding the value of democracy , speaking about democracy and being a democracy are different and still require a sense to be achieved , at least for India.
(The writer is Petroleum Engineer, Freelance writer, Convener- Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign)
This article was originally published in the Imphal Free Press on Tuesday, 18 August 2015